Sometimes, life leads you down a path you never could have anticipated. To a certain extent, that is the story of Lyn Wickelgren and her experience as a JCC member.
A Mississippi native and Hilltop resident, Lyn discovered the JCC while searching for a social outlet for her two-year-old daughter – at the time, there were no other children in the neighborhood for her to play with. Although the J preschool only accepted children older than three, Lyn persuaded the director to allow a two-week trial period; within just a few days, the preschool director decided that, for a child as precocious as Lyn’s young daughter, an exception could be made.
As a result of her daughter’s involvement in the preschool, Lyn began to notice some of the amenities the J had to offer, one of which being the year-round, heated outdoor pool. Lyn became so enamored by the temptations of the pool lanes, she bought herself a membership. So began a decades-long relationship with the JCC.
Her daily swims at the J became integral to her lifestyle, so much so that she arranged the rest of her schedule around it. Even while teaching psychology at Metro University for ~30 years, (13 of which as the chair of the department), her time in the pool lane took scheduling precedent. But the pool deck wasn’t the only place she held dear.
“However odd it may sound,” Lyn admits with chagrin, “I made the most wonderful friendships in the locker room. That’s where I met some of my very, very closest friends.”
As serendipity would have it, Lyn’s choice of locker inadvertently put her in the right place at the right time – to meet a new group of lifelong friends. As she went about her daily swim routine at the J, Lyn developed familiarity with the women who had lockers nearby; over time, this familiarity evolved into a close-knit social circle of seven women, founded on a shared love of exercise. Lyn affectionately calls their group the “Locker Room Ladies.”
Despite having professional lives, families, complicated schedules, and many other factors, these seven women maintained a weekly lunch get-together for years, supporting each other and journeying together through the highs and lows of life. Although many years have passed, as have several members of the Locker Room Ladies, Lyn still cares deeply for those friends she met at the JCC, and they still gather for lunch as often as they are able.
A bubbly presence and clearly full of energy, Lyn feels strongly that the two critical reasons she’s remained a member of the J for so long is two-fold; the quality of the outdoor pool – “it’s so much better than other pools!” – and she loves coming to the J and seeing such a wide age range of individuals. Especially, she says, she adores seeing the young children playing and exploring as students of the ELS department. “The variety of ages is so nice to see, everyone is welcome here, no matter their stage of life.”
Lyn is right – the JCC is an integral aspect of socialization and activity involvement for many individuals, especially the seniors in our community. More than just aquatics activities, the JCC offers many services geared toward providing senior members with helpful resources, a sense of community, and activities that speak to their unique interests. The J is currently fundraising to support programs that provide for senior members and young families; if you feel moved to show your support for these members, we encourage you to head to our donation page.
When asked what she values most at the J, Lyn says decisively, “My swimming, exercising, and wonderful friends. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”