Corey Clifton
Corey Clifton

VAN WERT – When star athlete Corey Clifton graduated from Van Wert High School to begin his college career, it didn’t dawn on him that someday he would return to his hometown to work with young people at the local YMCA.

That changed this past August when he was given the opportunity to become the local program director. Prior to that, he had served as a Youth Development Director at the Lima YMCA.

“This opportunity opened up for me this past August,” said Clifton. “Most of my family lives here. When I started my masters I thought of something like this but I never thought of the YMCA. I started in Lima and I loved it a lot."

“Ever since high school I loved to be around kids,” continued Clifton. “A lot of kids out there don’t have a lot of opportunities. I would see kids that didn’t have them and wish that I could help them.”

At Van Wert High School, Clifton was a start athlete, including basketball, football and baseball. Following Van Wert graduation, he had a full college basketball career at St. Joseph’s College where he received a degree in sports management. At the University of Toledo he received a master’s degree in recreational administration.

“After I moved back to the community, I immediately got more involved,” Clifton said. “I joined the Service Club. It has given me a chance to meet more people and get out into community more. I enjoy what I am doing.

“There are all kinds of opportunities out there for kids, especially when we get a better opportunity for what kids to target,” continued Clifton. “There’s a smaller market here so it helps a little bit; it helps to get to know 75-80 percent of the kids.”

During the winter, there are various basketball leagues apportioned to the various age groups. Once those seasons are done, there will be a girls’ tournament in February followed by a King Court Boys Tournament Feb. 23 and 24 and fifth and sixth grade King Court Tournament March 2 and 3.

On New Year’s Eve, starting at 8 p.m. there will be a “Lock In” for those parents who would like to go out and leave their children at the YWCA.

“This will be all night. There will be staff here with swimming, all gyms open and plenty of food,” said Clifton.

Clifton said that his primary purpose in all of this is to instill in kids the knack of remembering where they came from and how to look for opportunities when they grow up.

“We want kids to become good role models and realize what opportunities they have,” said Clifton.