“MS. G” Glenda Trainer finds passion (but not work) in guiding YMCA youth

Published 12:30 am Friday, April 14, 2023

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When Glenda Trainer sees Kenneth Lofton Jr. on television, she says, “that’s PA YMCA.”

Known as “Ms. G,” the sports director at the YMCA of Southeast Texas remembers seeing the Memorial High School graduate at the center as a child.

“Junior used to be all around here with a basketball, always willing to play with the bigger groups when he was supposed to be in the little group,” Trainer said. “But he came in and just had a blast.”

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And, she said, he’s not the only well-known athlete to get his start at the local YMCA.

“Jamaal Charles, Stephen Jackson, Elandon Roberts — all of them were YMCA kids,” she said. “And they all know Ms. G, and I’m so grateful.”

Charles, of Port Arthur, was making headlines before graduating from Memorial High School in 2005. He then attended the University of Texas.

According to information from the Museum of the Gulf Coast, “In his freshman season, he rushed 119 times for 878 yards and 11 touchdowns, contributing significantly to the national championship earned by the Longhorns that year.”

He left following his junior year to join the 2008 NFL Draft, where the Kansas City Chiefs picked him in the third round.

Charles retired in 2019.

Stephen Jackson was a basketball standout at Lincoln High School before beginning a long career in the NBA. He retired in 2015.

Roberts was drafted in 2016 by the New England Patriots, who won the Super Bowl that season and the one following. In 2020, he joined the Miami Dolphins, and in March signed with Pittsburgh.

“We all grew up around the same time — well except Junior because I coached him,” said Memorial High School basketball coach Alden Lewis. “I remember these guys being in there just like any other kid. A lot of kids were raised at the YMCA, whether in youth basketball league or just coming in on a random day for pickup.”

This year’s youth basketball program had 256 participants, Trainer said.

Lewis was a frequent member of the YMCA “from when I could walk until now. I started in little dribblers and stayed all through high school. “

He said being in around basketball throughout his life coupled with the mentors that coached him led him to the career he’s in today.

And Trainer was one of those influences.

“We still talk all of the time,” he said.

The YMCA will soon offer even more opportunities for basketball and other sports with the addition of a large outdoor court expected to be completed this month.

Visitors will be able to view it on April 29 for the annual Healthy Kids Day, which is free for the community to attend. The event includes vendors, games, food and other attractions.

And, of course, a chance to meet “Ms. G,” who has been employed at the center for nearly 30 years.

“I have fun,” she said. “My granddad always said, ‘If you like what you’re doing, you’ll never work a day in your life.’ And I love what I’m doing, so it’s not work.”