Carol Tanrath was hired as the executive director of the Liberty County/Armed Services YMCA two months ago, and she said she has plenty of ideas to grow programs for the community.
The YMCA environment is old hat for Tanrath.
“I grew up with the Y my whole life,” Tanrath said, noting that she was a child of military parents. “It was my parents’ way of getting us adjusted to every time we moved and help us to get to know people and get us out there.”
Tanrath said her mom was a YMCA volunteer, and she always tagged along during her volunteer hours.
Later, Tanrath joined the swim team when the family lived in Maine. Soon she found another sport she enjoyed at the Y and got involved in gymnastics.
“I started gymnastics when I lived in Hawaii, and then I ended up being the gymnastics director at the Islands branch YMCA.”
The Islands Family is a branch of the YMCA of Coastal Georgia and Tanrath has worked for the regional Y for the past 22 years, she said. Liberty’s is also a branch of Coastal Georgia.
“I’ve been a fitness program director, membership director. … I was an interim director at two different branches,” she said. “But my love has always been gymnastics. So for the last six years I was the gymnastics director and overseeing the national gymnastics championships.”
Tanrath also worked for USA Gymnastics as a national technical gymnastics advisor.
Setting gymnastics aside, Tanrath became the executive director at the local branch when former director Donna Waite moved to Augusta.
“I developed a relationship within the community and saw we have more of a need for senior citizen programs, as well as youth programs,” Tanrath explained. “While developing these relationships, it got me out of my gymnastics box to realize the needs that are out there still. … The position became available. … And knowing what we are capable of doing at this branch, I thought it was the perfect fit for me.”
She said the board and her current staff have the same vision. Among her priorities is growing the middle school and high school programs.
“They need more involvement, whether it be with sports or leadership planning, that we need to be stepping into and helping with,” she said.
She added she wants to expand programs for senior citizens and is working on enhancing programs for military families.
“We have a great relationship with the base. However, just in the time that I have been here, there have been some needs that the military has needed from us for different programs where they have lost funds. … And we’ve been able to step in and fulfill those needs so they don’t drop the programs but are able to continue them through us.”
Tanrath wants to expand the current swim program.
“I think we are going up to 12 years old. And there is no reason for that. … We would like to offer a high school swim team here,” she said. “There is a large opportunity with our swim program. … That is why last weekend was so exciting. It was the first time that the new staff got to lead that swim meet.”
Saturday, the local Y played host to the annual YMCA Swim Championships, which welcomed teams from every Coastal Georgia branch.
She also hopes to increase gymnastics programs.
“We have three key staff back there,” she said. “Our coordinator has a strong fitness and dance background. Our head team coach has a strong competitive background, and we have our recreational gymnastics coach who has been doing that for a while. I’ve been sending them to trainings, and I’ve been working with them. They’ve developed two new programs this summer. They offered a gymnastics camp and a princess ballet camp, and they’ve grown together and have started to develop their own vision for gymnastics. I will help them teach the compulsory routines.”
Tanrath’s long-term goal is to host a YMCA gymnastics national event.
She said current gymnastics enrollment is not where she wants it. But she noted that the branch’s new vision should help increase interest and enrollment.
Tanrath is married to Cary Tanrath, a military retiree. She has three daughters, Jacquie, Melinda and Rylie, who she said are also growing up through the YMCA, like she did.