By Celie Collins

Troy Blair knew what it was like to be a “Y kid”.

And now, he knows what it’s like to be a Y leader.

Serving as a STAUNTON-AUGUSTA FAMILY YMCA Youth Counselor for the Afterschool Adventure Club and Summer Day Camp programs, his experience at the Y has come full circle.

“I was in Summer Day Camp from the time I was old enough to start up until I aged out,” Troy said. “So to now be a counselor, I understand more about myself and my mentors.”

As a child, Troy also participated in Little Dribblers and Youth Volunteer Corps, where he looked up to two standout mentors.

“Coach Bruce [Blair] was my first basketball coach,” said Troy. “He is a big inspiration to me.”

The pair get to catch up with each other when Bruce visits the Afterschool youth as a representative of Mental Health America of Augusta.

“Troy was shy, but had a huge smile that lit up the room, and you knew one day he was going to give back to the people,” Bruce shared. “To be able to pour into Troy through various YMCA programs for multiple years was an honor. To see him now pouring back into the youth truly displays the power of positive mentorship.”

Troy also participated in Youth Volunteer Corps under the leadership of former SAYMCA Marketing Director Chris Lassiter.

“He was a big inspiration for me, too,” Troy said. “The way they carried themselves and invested in me is what inspires my leadership style.”

Troy and Lassiter have family connections that strengthen their bond, with roots in Lassiter’s experience working at Parks and Recreation under Troy’s aunt.

“My dad and Troy’s granddad were on the same softball team. We also did Vacation Bible School with Troy’s mom and aunt. I grew up extremely close to that family, loving and cheering for Troy,” Lassiter shared. “Then, when he came to work at the YMCA, he was so great with the kids. He’s athletic, calm, patient, and a prototype for what you want in a summer camp counselor. He’s a huge addition to the YMCA and I’m glad to see him taking those steps while he continues his education.”

Troy is a Blue Ridge Community College student with plans to transfer to a four-year university. He is interested in pursuing elementary education, sports medicine, or a career where those paths intersect.

“He uses his athleticism to connect with the kids,” Lassiter said.

Troy’s favorite activities to do with the kids will always be games and sports, which he uses to help foster leadership skills.

“I want to teach them to be leaders and not followers, because I was a follower as a kid,” he explained. “I always tell them that the ‘wrong’ thing to do isn’t ‘cool’. I try to teach them how to be responsible and accountable, to always do the right thing.”