Olympic Hopefuls Join the Family YMCA at Tarrytown

Tarrytown – March 1, 2017

The wind swirled the fallen snow into large drifts and plows were having difficulty keeping the roads clear, but seemingly nothing could stop two young Olympic hopefuls from finding a treadmill and some free weights to lift during the last blizzard in Tarrytown on February 9, 2017.  Practically the only doors open that day were those of the Family YMCA at Tarrytown, which has been continuously serving the river towns for more than 113 years. 

Cecilia Barowski and Stephanie Schappert, roommates who are training for the Olympic Trials, opened the doors to the Y and were greeted by Sandra Wingate, Member Service Desk Manager and a friendly fixture at the Y for more than 15 years.  Within moments they were working out in the Fitness Center, and soon joined the Y, participating in the 25/25 Membership Program, which guarantees them 25% off the current membership rate as long as they both remain members of the Y.

“We were so excited to find the Y open in the middle of the blizzard.  The discount for life was an added bonus.  We were in the gym working out in less than 5 minutes!”  said Ms. Barowski.   “We love the convenience of the location and the fact that it seems to be always open,” she added.  On the day of that blizzard, February 9, Barowski was training for the Millrose Games that took place on February 11; she came in fifth in her race with a new lifetime best time of 2:01.52.

“We are so proud to be participating in ‘history in the making’ with these incredible young women,” said Gerry Riera, CEO of the Y. 

Cecilia Barowski is one of almost 20 runners who recently moved to the Tarrytown area to train for the Olympics.  She and nine others, most of whom are recent college graduates, joined the team in 2016.  Working with the legendary coach Frank “Gag” or “Gags” Gagliano, the group trains at the Masters School during the week, and Barowski and Schappert fill out their exercise routines with runs in Rockefeller state park and workouts at the Y.  The team sponsor is Hoka One One, taken from a Native American phrase that translates to their motto, "Time to Fly".  Hoka One One supports the club providing the team with workout clothing and running shoes.  

Cecilia Barowski smiles as she speaks about the joy and rigor of working with “Gag.”   Coach Gagliano, 79, has led young runners to 10 Olympic trials (most recently in July 2016), and is credited with guiding 14 Olympians, multiple national champions, and a world championships medalist.    A former professional football player in Canada, Gagliano made college track and field coaching stops earlier in his career at Manhattan College, Rutgers, and Georgetown. Then he moved on to professional teams like the Reebok Enclave, the Nike Farm Team, the Oregon Track Club, and his current group, the New Jersey-New York Track Club.  Barowski typically runs the 800, but also runs the 600 if that’s what the meet offers.  She is currently ranked 3rd in the US in the 600m, the event in which she will compete at this weekend's National Championship.

Barowski graduated last spring from Princeton, where she studied Molecular Biology and did an internship with the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).  She loves research, and plans to pursue a career in the biomedical field after the 2020 Olympics.  The fifth of eight children in her family, Barowski is the only one to take her high school running career to the next level in college.  “In New Hampshire, every one of my older sisters and I were the State Champs at some point during high school,” she says, smiling.  She and her roommate Stephanie Schappert who is also on the team, love to bake.  “This weekend it was fun-fetti cookies – we bribed one of our teammates with cookies in exchange for a ride to the airport for the USA Track & Field (USATF) Indoor Championships, in Albuquerque, NM, held on March 4-5, 2017.”  She giggled, and let us know the bribe worked.  Y members can watch the USATF meet on NBCSN (NBC sports network) this weekend.  Please join us in welcoming Cecilia and Stephanie to our family at the Y.  We’ll be filling you in on their progress as they work their way towards the 2020 Olympics.


Cecilia Barowski in the Y Fitness Center