The Riverbrook Regional/Wilton YMCA has named Tom Jagelka, director of gymnastics, and Todd Stevens, head senior coach of the Wilton Wahoos, as the 2018 recipients of the Karen Strickland Employee of the Year Award, recognizing their dedication, passion as leaders to change young people’s lives and commitment to the Y’s mission.
Jagelka first joined the Wilton Family YMCA as a volunteer gymnastics coach in 2000, but was soon called upon to become an employee of the Wilton Family YMCA in 2003 as head coach. Soon after that he was promoted to the director of gymnastics position, and since then has been instrumental in growing the gymnastics program to the successful program that it is today.
Jagelka began his gymnastics career at Grover Cleveland High School. During high school, he was a diversified athlete competing in gymnastics, diving and swimming. Jagelka set school records and was honored at graduation as the all-around gymnastics and diving champion. Jagelka earned a full gymnastics scholarship to attend Long Island University, where he continued to excel. His personal experience was the catalyst to his developing desire to coach, so while still in college, he began his coaching career at the Eastern Queens YMCA. He coached both the men’s and women’s teams, developing a number of individual champions. Concurrent with his YMCA duties, Jagelka held assistant coach positions at two private clubs, Cherry Lane Gymnastics and Richmond Gymnastics Center.
Todd Stevens joined the Wilton Y Wahoos team in 1998 as senior II coach and since then has inspired hundreds of swimmers to develop their potential through swimming. He came to the Wilton Family YMCA from the Cheshire YMCA Water Devils, where he served as head age group coach.
Since 1998 Stevens has also been the head coach for the Wilton High School Women’s and Men’s swimming and diving. Among his many achievements: he was a coach of the 2016 Paralympic Trials finalist and American Paralympic record holder; named the 2008 and 2017 FCIAC Girls High School Swimming coach of the Year, as well as the 2008 CIAC/CISCA Girls High School Swimming Coach of the Year and the 2009 CHSCA Girls High School Swimming Coach of the Year. Stevens was a varsity swimmer at Ithaca College and held the Ithaca College Men’s swimming record for the 50 Freestyle from 1987-2009.
Robert McDowell, CEO, Riverbrook Regional YMCA, had praise for both men.
“Tom and Todd are outstanding employees who provide their expertise, enthusiasm, dedication and commitment to the Y and the community. Through their hard work and years of service, our YMCA continues to grow and provide young athletes in our competitive sports programs with innovation, inspiration and compassion. I am honored to recognize them for their excellence and exceptional performance.”
The YMCA Employee of the Year Award is named in honor of Karen Strickland, who served as a staff member of the Wilton Family YMCA for over 26 years from 1988-2014. Recipients of this award must have demonstrated the passion for the YMCA in similar ways that Strickland did during her tenure with the Y. Her drive and initiative toward continually improving the experiences of not only the members of the Y but also the staff and the community as a whole have been demonstrated by those honored on this plaque. Each honoree has given above and beyond the expectations and has truly shown that they live and work by the core values of honesty, caring, respect and responsibility just as Karen did during her time with our YMCA.