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The Williams YMCA of Avery County is a High Country Sports and Fitness Activities Jewel

The new Blackburn Athletic Facility.

By Tim Gardner

Something for everyone.

Perhaps no other term better personifies the many programs offered at the Williams YMCA of Avery County for people of all ages and any physical fitness level.

Since its opening in 2007, the Williams YMCA of Avery County truly has fulfilled its mission statement of: Putting Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all.

The many physical workout machines in the YMCA’s Wellness Center.

The Williams YMCA headquarters and all its facilities are located on the campus of Cannon Memorial Hospital in Linville. Those spacious facilities are all first class and modern and include: a Wellness Center, Indoor Aquatic Center, Indoor Walking Track, Group Exercise Studio, Indoor Spin-Cycle Center, Arcade Interactive Fitness Zone for ages 6 and up, locker rooms, the Chapman Center (for children’s programs), the Martha Guy Child Development Center and the new John M. Blackburn Indoor Athletic Facility (field house).

Participants shown working out on weights in the Wellness Center.

Many of the Williams YMCA’s programs are tailored toward chronic disease prevention and management. The programs offered there include: Aquatics, over-all physical wellness, various youth activities, Early Childhood Development, Community Outreach, Youth and Adult Athletics and Special Olympics. The Williams YMCA has a staff consisting of professional and highly-trained individuals who are always eager to assist all using the Y’s facilities and participating in its programs.

The Williams YMCA of Avery County also serves people from surrounding areas and regions across North Carolina, East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

Williams YMCA Wellness Program Director Bonnie Clark noted that as many as “one hundred or more participants use the wellness and other YMCA facilities daily.”

The Williams YMCA recently opened the new $1.2 million John M. Blackburn Indoor Athletic Facility, named for Linville Resorts President and General Manager John Blackburn.

“The Williams YMCA has been one of the grandest happenings for Avery County and the whole area,” said the Y’s Sports Director James Penley. “I think anyone who has used it or is familiar with it would agree. We continue to enhance the programs we have and the new Blackburn Building is a tremendous accomplishment and a pinnacle way of how we add programs for our participants.”

YMCA Sports Director Brent Nidifer and Wellness Program Director Bonnie Clark.
Another look at the many YMCA’s physical fitness machines.
The spacious and heated swimming pools at the Williams YMCA.
A couple of swimmers in the large YMCA pool.
The YMCA’s mirrored and spacious group exercise room.

The Blackburn Athletic Facility is ideal for use when the weather is at its worst, which for the High Country is several months out of each year. It includes two basketball courts with multi-purpose flooring and a 6,000-square-foot indoor turf and batting cage facility. It also can accommodate open play, practice and tournaments in basketball, baseball, volleyball, indoor soccer, golf practice, pickleball and more.

Additionally, the Blackburn Building also provides a space for general fitness programs.

Funding for local YMCA organizations varies depending on the array of services and programs offered. It is generally comprised of a combination of donations from individuals and foundations, membership dues, and program fees.

The Williams YMCA offers memberships that provide access to certain facilities, such as fitness centers and swimming pools, allow for enrollment in YMCA programs at no additional cost, or both. Some YMCA organizations also offer membership or program pricing on a sliding scale for low-income individuals and families.

The YMCA relies on volunteers to provide services. Each Y organization has its own particular needs for volunteers. Nationally, approximately a half million volunteers help support Y programming. Volunteers work at YMCA facilities help out at events, serve on committees or on boards.

Lauren Wolfe, Assistant Director of Healthy Living and a personal trainer for the Williams YMCA of Avery County aptly summed up its programs and services when she declared: “When it comes to health and physical fitness, if you need it, we’ve got it at our YMCA. And we are eager to share it with all who are interested in participating in our programs.”

For information about the YMCA, stop by its offices, housed in Charles A. Cannon, Jr. Memorial Hospital at 436 Hospital Drive in Linville or call (828) 737-5500. Further details about the YMCA programs can also be accessed online at: ymcaavery.org.

YMCA Office receptionist Karen Fugate.
A young golfer practices his swing in the John Blackburn Athletic Facility.
The John Blackburn Indoor Athletic Facility has practice and workout areas for various sports such as baseball, softball, football and golf on Astroturf, rubber wooden and concrete floor surfaces.
A young softball player practices her batting in the Blackburn Facility.
The Williams YMCA’s second Sports Director James Pendley.
The banner says it all about the YMCA’s dedication to Avery County’s Youth.
One more picture of the composite vinyl flooring gymnasium and basketball court in the Blackburn Facility.


Billboard outside of Newland featuring free after school program at the Avery YMCA.
Facility housing the swimming complex.
The new Blackburn Athletic Facility.
Main entrance into the YMCA.
The Avery YMCA main entrance is located in the Sloop Medical Office Plaza.