Recreation is a family affair

For one local family, recreation has always been part of their lives and has blossomed into careers.

Molly Lofton, senior program director at the Tiffin Community YMCA, has been a part of the Y since she was 5 years old.

“I grew up around water,” Molly said. “I was waterskiing even before I knew how to swim.”

At 12, Molly said, she was teaching swim lessons.

Molly began her career in recreation as an intern for the Fostoria YMCA while attending Bowling Green State University. Molly said she was the first female to major in recreation. She graduated in 1979 and received a full-time position in Fostoria, where she stayed for 10 years.

While in the position at Fostoria, she taught swim lessons and was a lifeguard. Molly said she stopped working for the Y, but never really left, continuing to teach swim and other programs.

Molly said she loves the constant contract with people, especially the teens and younger children.

“I love seeing the faces of the children and their parents when they swim the first time,” Molly said.

Molly said she loves changing lives.

“I knew a 75-year-old woman when I worked in Fostoria, she was afraid of the water and could not swim. We worked together and before I left, she had become a lap swimmer.”

“Aquatics is a lifetime sport,” Molly said. “It is a sport that you can do the rest of your life.”

Molly, originally from Elyria, got her determination from her father, John Sheldon.

“My dad always told me to ‘just go out and do something, even if it is wrong.’ It has made me not to be afraid to try. You just have to make a decision even if its wrong, you can fix it later,” Molly said.

Molly is not alone in her love of the Y or swimming; she has a son and daughter who took her experience and made it their own. Matt Lofton and Ann Lofton-Rice both grew up in the YMCA, just like Molly.

Matt and Ann were involved with swim lessons and the Y swim team.

Matt spent 11 years lifeguarding. He is a graduate of Heidelberg University and Kent State University. He is going to begin his career in sports information as sports information assistant at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock.

Matt said he got involved in sports information because he loves sports and he loves numbers, but his first love is the Y.

Matt said he enjoys being around seniors, as he is the lifeguard during senior swim.

“Ever since high school, I’ve always been around people older than my age group,” Matt said. “I love their mannerisms.”

Matt has benefited from the Y, losing more than 100 pounds.

“With the access to the building, I don’t have to worry about what other people think when exercising, at times there is next to no one here,” Matt said.

Matt said he also has been able to break out of his shell and take the life lessons he has learned and pick his battles, to know when to respond and when to laugh something off.

Ann is busy with overseeing three YMCA facilities in the Cincinnati area as the regional aquatic director. The locations she oversees are the Gable-Nippert YMCA, M.E. Lyons YMCA and Melrose YMCA. She said at one time, she was overseeing six different pools.

Like Matt, Ann grew up in the Y pool.

“I always participated in something, either involved in the pool, playing softball for the city or lifeguarding at the city pool,” Ann said.

Her job entails making sure the lifeguards have swim training that is up to date, and to make sure the services and programs are up to date.

While her mom Molly worked, Ann said, she was able to attend many trainings and instruction programs at a young age.

Ann also attended Bowling Green State University, majoring in recreation.

“It just felt as the most natural thing that I was good at,” Ann said.

Ann graduated in 2006 and got a full-time position as a head lifeguard at Wolf Creek YMCA in Toledo.

Ann said what she loves about the field of recreation is the area is always changing and there is never one solution to anything.

“The big and important piece is the community,” Ann said. “The community comes to things when they need it. The YMCA takes the responsibility in the community on educating on healthy living and social responsibility roles and standing up for the children.”

The Y is more than just planning programs, Ann said.

“There is so much you learn about budgeting and philanthropy, it is not just a recreational center. I’ve learned time management with having a never-ending work load,” Ann said. “I have to be to work at 5 a.m. and make sure people are where they are supposed to be, if the lifeguard doesn’t show up on time, I have to make sure the pool is opened. It is a 24/7 job.”

As busy as she is, Ann said, she still finds time for her family and friends.

Ann said she has also learned when to pick her battles.

“Sometimes, you can’t get upset about certain things,” she said.

Ann hopes to move up in the Y, as a CEO or to work for the YMCA of USA.

“My family has definitely benefited from being involved in the Y. They have a good sense of what is a role model and knowing what hard work is,” she said.