A Solid Base for Fun and Fitness

Tioga County Boys & Girls Club Gym FloorSince 1945 the Tioga County Boys and Girls Club has been offering all sorts of ways to get fit, get educated and have a great time. Members range from six-year-olds to senior citizens. They come to the club in Owego to stay busy after school, get help with homework, take music lessons, work out and compete in all manner of sports, to name just a few of the available activities.

Many of the club's young members come from struggling households. "We often are surrogate parents for the youngsters," says Lew Sauerbrey, interim executive director. Scholarships from local donors help to ensure that the club never turns a child away for lack of funds.

Thousands of feet have left their mark in the club's big gym since that space was built in 1973. Members and community groups use the gym for everything from basketball and indoor soccer to fitness programs, dances, movie nights, sleepovers and birthday parties. Over the decades, of course, active feet create a lot of wear and tear.

The club had the original surface in the gym stripped and refinished several times, but the floor wasn't built to last forever. It took a particular beating in September 2007, when vandals broke into the building. Workmen repaired the floor as best they could, but under the surface, the structure was deteriorating.

"The contractors looked at us and said, 'You don't have enough wood any more,'" Sauerbrey recalls. "Then when winter came, the thing started coming apart."

Since the floor was no longer safe, that left the Boys and Girls Club with only its older, much smaller gym to accommodate some nine hundred members, plus the groups that rent the club's facilities. Many activities simply had to stop.

In 2009 the Community Foundation granted $10,000 to the Tioga County Boys and Girls Club toward the cost of a new floor for the gym. Workers completed installation in the fall. With the big gym back in business, the club could resume its old activities. It also launched some new ones, including preseason training for baseball and softball, dance classes and low-impact aerobics.

"We've got a new, solid surface that's going to last us for a lot of years," Sauerbrey said. "That will continue our ability to provide healthy recreation for the young and old of our community."

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