Volunteer youth basketball coach Brigid Merenda has been named the New Tampa Family YMCA Volunteer of the Year.
At the New Tampa Y in Tampa Palms, Brigid uses her skills and experience as a college basketball player for the University of South Florida (1993-97) to teach the next generation of players the sport she loves.
“I have the ability and the skills to coach, and I had a lot of volunteer coaches in my life, so I want to give back,” says Brigid, who — in addition to her “day job” as a lawyer — also is a color commentator for radio broadcasts of the USF women’s basketball home games. (Our congratulations go out to the team, which is making its fifth NCAA tournament appearance in the last six seasons, all under the leadership of head coach and New Tampa resident José Fernandez.)
Among the many volunteers at the Y, Brigid stands out.
“Brigid has been heavily involved in growing the girls’ basketball program with a unique talent to teach a group of young girls in a fun, but competitive way,” explains Michael Cosentino, executive director of the New Tampa Y. “Brigid is always on the court, active and involved in teaching the game. Coach Brigid realizes that if you teach skills in a fun way, your team will learn about the game and be successful, even at a young age.”
Brigid says she and her husband, Jason, have been members of the New Tampa Y since about 2003. She began coaching at the Y about three years ago, when her daughter, Sophia, who was five at the time, wanted to play basketball. Now, Brigid’s son, Charlie, is five, and will start playing basketball this summer.
“If you see a coach running around high-fiving everyone,” Cosentino says, “then you are probably watching Brigid coach. She has as much fun as the kids!”
Brigid received the award at the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA’s Community Impact Dinner on Feb. 27, at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre on N. 50th St. in Tampa, where more than 500 guests were in attendance.