By Tamas Mondovics

Members of the Brandon North Family YMCA gymnastics team will have a chance to measure up their skills during a major event scheduled to be held close to home next summer.

YMCA announced earlier this month that after placing a bid, the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA along with the Sarasota Family YMCA were selected by YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) to host the 2014 YMCA Gymnastics National Championships.

“The North Brandon Y will be participating with its team,” said Tampa YMCA District Director, Cindy Sofarelli.

According to the organization and based on past events, nearly 2,000 gymnasts from across the country, along with their families, are said to travel to Tampa next summer for the four-day event, bringing an estimated $4.5 million in economic impact to the community.

Scheduled to take place at the Tampa Convention Center, the event will consists of a three-day competition and an Olympic-style Opening Ceremony at a location yet to be announced at a later date.

“We’re pleased Tampa Bay has been selected to host the 2014 YMCA Gymnastics National ­­­Championship,” said Rob Higgins, executive director of Tampa Bay Sports Commission. “Our community has a strong affinity for staging premier youth and amateur gymnastics events and to be able to host a special event of this caliber is going to continue to enhance our gymnastics tradition.”

Higgins said that in partnering with the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA and the

Sarasota Family YMCA, TBSC is confident in its ability to deliver a first-class National Championship, thus creating incredible experiences and memories for all YMCA participants and their families.

In order to compete, each participant must qualify by receiving a high enough all-around score at a USA Gymnastics (USAG) sanctioned meet, by far the largest of the season for which gymnasts prepare year-round.

Such was the case with 20 Tampa YMCA gymnasts and 41 Sarasota YMCA gymnasts after taking part in the 2013 YMCA Gymnastics National Championships in Savannah, Georgia.

“It’s a huge honor and very exciting news to be chosen as the host for this amazing event,” said Tom Looby, President and CEO of the Tampa YMCA in a written statement. “We look forward to working with the Sarasota Y, Y-USA, Tampa Bay and Company and the Tampa Sports Commission to plan and host such a spectacular event with promising outcomes to the greater Tampa Bay area.”

Sarasota Y, President and CEO Kurt Stringfellow, also agreed when he said that his facility is fortunate to be a part of this national event in the Tampa Bay area.

“We look forward to working with the Tampa YMCA and the other partners in helping make this a

welcoming and rewarding celebration of gymnastics,” Stringfellow said in a press release.

The Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA is one of the area’s leading nonprofits, strengthening Hillsborough and East Pasco communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

Across the Association, 19 facilities engage more than 142,000 men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background. The Tampa Y has long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change.

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