Kimmie Stanley retires after 14 years as president of WJYAA
By Kevin Dye
A community organization that has spent the last 40 years providing quality athletic programs for the youth in West Jefferson is preparing for a change in leadership as a key officer prepares to retire.
Kimmie Stanley has handled the role as president of the West Jefferson Youth Athletic Association (WJYAA) since 1998 and has become the guiding force behind the organization. Stanley has decided that the time has finally come for another person to take over the organization and she is slowly reducing her involvement with the group.
“I started coaching girls baseball in 1997,” Stanley said. “By the fall of 1998 I had started attending board meetings. One day Karen Miller, who was president, told me she wanted to step down and thought I would be perfect for the job. I stepped in and she helped me for a few months and then I was on my own.”
Stanley has shaped the growth and the amount of programs that the WJYAA are able to offer youth to participate in. She has seen plenty of children take part in WJYAA activities and then go on to play a major role in middle school and high school athletics.
“I’m starting to see children of the kids I coached,” Stanley said. “That’s when you know you’ve been here too long. My son was one year old when I started and now he’s a freshman in high school. I’m busy now with him and his sports and it’s time for someone else to take over.”
Stanley has built quite a legacy with the WJYAA and following in her footsteps will be quite a challenge. She points out that unlike other Madison County communities, the WJYAA handles all of the youth sports for the village and it is a big job to coordinate the sports and schedules.
“WJYAA does all the sports,” Stanley said. “In the fall we have volleyball, cheerleading, football and soccer. In the winter we have basketball and dodge ball and then in the spring we offer soccer again along with T-ball baseball and softball. We start with four year olds and move our way up to age fourteen. We offer sports for kids who don’t make the middle school teams.”
Stanley is quick to point out that while it is a big job there are many people who help to make WJYAA a success for the kids in the community.
“We have to depend on ten board members,” Stanley said. “It takes all of us to run this program. I used to do everything from ordering the uniforms to making up all the schedules. But we have a lot of hard working people now and our coaches are fantastic and do a great job working with the kids. We have really grown. Since I started we have added our peewee (four years old) games with soccer, flag football and basketball and we added girls softball.”
While Stanley’s involvement with the WJYAA is very personal, it became a family affair early on.
“My husband Herman joined the board a year after I took over,” Stanley said. “He coached football for 17 years, in fact he coached seven years before we even had one of our own kids on the team. I could not have done this without the help and assistance from my family. My family has helped out a lot. My parents helped me out tremendously and without the participation of all my family I could not have done this. My kids were called ‘hall rats’ because they were always here at Galbreath Hall helping out when they were growing up.”
One little known secret about Stanley is that she was not always a loyal follower of the familiar brown and gold colors of West Jefferson athletics.
“Herman helped to convert me,” Stanley said with a laugh. “I was a Red Raider and I graduated from London High School in 1982.”
One of Stanley’s guiding lights and partner in building the WJYAA into the program it has become was the late Jack “Rock” McDowell. McDowell was a former Jefferson Local teacher and football coach and later in life as the Parks and Recreation director for the village he helped to create the fine parks that the village has now.
“Jack McDowell was fabulous for our sports program and he was a great mentor for me,” Stanley said. “He was a blessing to us and he was all about the kids. He really helped us to have the facilities that we have now and he cared that the kids have a decent place to play sports. I really miss Jack.”
The one structure in West Jefferson that is closely associated with the WJYAA program is Galbreath Hall. It was the home for indoor sports for many years until Norwood Elementary built the fine gymnasium they have there now. There are still programs held at Galbreath Hall and it is also used to store some of the group’s equipment. It has been a lasting symbol of West Jefferson youth athletics.
“I love Galbreath Hall and I hope the village never gets rid of it,” Stanley said. “Today it helps us with practices for basketball and it is home to our peewee basketball league. Most of our other basketball programs have moved to Norwood except for peewee. We house our equipment here and we have a baseball batting cage and hitting machine inside here and we hold other activities here.”
While officially Kimmie has turned over the leadership, she is still involved and is slowly phasing out her participation. John Stanley is her husband Herman’s younger brother and he has been involved with WJYAA for many years as a board member and handling the duties of webmaster for the group’s very impressive website. Kimmie said she believes that John is equipped and ready to handle the duties as WJYAA president.
“John is taking over now,” Stanley said. “I have seen him grow up and he is ready to do this. He is excited and nervous, but he should do fine. Herman is continuing as vice president and we have great coaches and wonderful board members, so everything should run smoothly. I’ve told John that he is not me and once he gets comfortable he will run this organization how he sees fit. Everyone does things a little bit differently and John will do a great job.”
As for Kimmie, it will be hard to walk away from the organization that she has helped to make the great success it has become.
She looks forward to finally having the time to follow her son’s high school activities. Still, she has a lot of herself invested in WJYAA.
“I have loved it,” she said. “It’s been a lot of fun and a lot of hardship. I have started backing away now, so it’s sad. The leaving part bothers me because we’ve worked so hard to get this where it is today. We get along well with the village and the school district, but it is just time for new people to run it. I am proud of the fact that our kids compete hard against each other on the court, but they are friends when the game is over. That’s important to me. The community is a huge supporter and they help us to keep our fees the lowest in the county. We are a small community and people come out to volunteer their time and donate their money to make this the success it has become for our kids.”