Local Youth Reflects on Path from HCYMCA to Career in the US Navy
From jumping into his father’s arms as a toddler in the pool at the Deer Path Branch, to jumping out of helicopters to save lives, Brian Fellin credits the values he learned at the YMCA for guiding him. According to Brian, “It’s hard to believe that I‘ve been active with the YMCA for my entire life and what I learned there has been carried into my military career and my life.”
Brian Fellin’s story with the Hunterdon County YMCA began when he was 11 months old in a Parent and Tot swim class when he learned to jump into his father’s waiting arms. From there, his love for the pool took off and by age 5 he was on the HCY Stingrays competitive swim team. Brian spent the next 13 years on the swim team, swimming endless practice laps, competing at the state and national level, and learning valuable life lessons along the way. Brian credits the coaching staff and the sport itself for teaching him the value of a good work ethic, time-management, discipline and teamwork. Brian recalls, “My favorite part about HCY swimming was that it was a perfect balance of hard work and fun. I had the opportunity to train with people who remain some of my best friends.”
Brian believes the greatest lesson he learned at the YMCA is to be persistent. According to Brian, “You need to be persistent with everything in your life from everyday tasks to building long and healthy relationships with yourself and others. You are ultimately responsible for everything you do, so take accountability for your actions and have some fun doing it.” He also learned to never be satisfied with a goal. Instead, ”keep pounding at the door of opportunity”. These lessons served Brian well as a student at James Madison University and now as a member of the US military.
Brian’s family also became heavily involved in the swimming community and the YMCA community, and that involvement remains. His father, Bart Fellin, is currently a member of the Board of Trustees, and served as Board Chair in 2017 and 2018. Mr. Fellin also volunteers as an official at swim meets. Brian’s mother, Sue Fellin, currently works in the YMCA After School Program and holds an annual fundraiser for the Y’s Annual Campaign.
Aside from swimming, Brian was employed at the YMCA as a camp counselor, lifeguard, private swim coach, and Wellness Mentor. He fondly remembers days at summer camp or at the pool, meeting many smiling faces and enjoying the moment. Brian recalls, “I had the opportunity to lead groups of children and make an impact on them every day, from teaching them how to swim, to simply giving high fives at the end of the day. The Y did a great job in helping me realize it’s the little things we do over and over that have the biggest impact. We often focus too much on the future and the unknown. It’s vital to enjoy where you are now, experience new things, and branch out of your comfort zone.”
Brian believes the Y is a place where everyone has the opportunity to get involved, make an impact, and foster skills that they will carry for the rest of their lives. “Everyone has the opportunity to create and achieve anything they put their mind to. If you apply the YMCA core values: Caring, responsibility, respect, and honesty into every aspect of your life, the result of who you become will be truly awesome.”
Brian has a message to youth, “Pursue your passion and get involved with things to grow and expand your knowledge and abilities. I have learned from every opportunity with the YMCA and applied it to my everyday life. Passion shouldn’t just be about goals or a career, it should flow into everything. From loving what you do, to hobbies that provide that feeling you can’t describe. Passion doesn’t cost anything. It isn’t material, and it isn’t something you throw away. Passion is a product of who you are as a person and the journey you are on. If you are still discovering who you are, getting to your roots, it will come with time, and I promise you will find passion in some things you never thought possible. Never doubt your ability to do anything. If you have a vision and you believe in it with your full heart and mind, you can do anything.”