Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center a snapshot of history

Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Here are excerpts from the speech executive director Chuck Burgess delivered to the audience.

When thinking about the place in Brandon's history that the Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center holds, three words come to mind: community, impact and legacy.

In 1963, the Brandon Swim and Tennis Club, which it was known at the time, set out to be a community destination and a safe place where people could gather to learn to swim and play tennis, socialize and enjoy each other's company. In those days there weren't too many places, if any, that brought people together like "Brandon Swim and Tennis."

It was a place ahead of its time with a 50-meter pool, diving boards and a 10-meter tower. And as more and more people found out about the unique programs created for the children in the area, new programs were added to address the demands of the community.

With the community always in mind, BSAC was one of the first child care programs that transported children to after-school care. It was also one of the first organizations to address youth drowning prevention before most of the country even saw it as a social issue. It was a place where children could walk to or ride their bikes and play all day with their friends until dusk and their moms called them home.

Many of them thought they were already home with the amount of time they spent here. From learning to sew to countless arts and crafts projects to sports-themed summer camps, year after year BSAC began to not just be a part of the community, but it was forming its own community: a community of higher-level athletes, of mighty mites tumbling on mats and dipping their toes in a pool for the first time.

A community of seniors spending time together to take care of their health first and then to socialize for hours after. It was a community of children having a safe place after school whose parents trusted their kids were getting an experience they couldn't get anywhere else. It was a community of care and love for the children and families in Brandon and later other areas as well.

Activities upon activities, days after days, life-impacting memories were planted like seeds waiting to sprout later in life. How do we know that this iconic organization has impacted this proud community? Because of the stories. Because of the people. Not just a few hundred people or even a few thousand people. Tens of thousands of people over five decades. Three generations of impact each now able to share one thing that made a difference in their life — BSAC. …

Listening to these stories told to me throughout the community over the past five years that I've had the privilege to lead this organization is like getting a snapshot of Brandon's history and its people. ...

I don't look at BSAC as just a local nonprofit, but rather a very special place in the heart of Brandon. After all, how many places can you climb the same tree that your grandfather did, or dive off of the exact same diving board that your uncle did or learn to swim in the same pool that your mother did or win a tennis trophy to put on the shelf right next to the one your dad won here years ago? It truly is a place of connection and impact.

This is why the community has invested so much in us and allowed us to serve them for so long, because it trusts us to continue to do the things we do so future generations can share their stories with their own children, grandchildren and great grandchildren at BSAC. You could say that BSAC is in Brandon's DNA.

We want to thank you all for coming today and to all of those that have supported us the past five decades. It is an honor to serve our community through our programs and mission. We appreciate the trust that you have put in us over the years and are committed to continuing the tradition of excellence that people have come to expect from us.

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