MERIDEN — Returning to the city where he grew up, the YMCA’s new sports director just completed his first week on the job.
“To be able to come home and give back again is really special to me,” said Justin Ferreira, who started as the Meriden YMCA sports director on Jan. 8.
After graduating from Lasell College in Newton, Mass., in May 2016, he worked at the Meriden YMCA for a few months and then returned to Massachusetts to work as the sports director of the Charles River YMCA in Needham.
“I saw it as an opportunity to give back to the community I grew up in,” he said of the return to Meriden.
The 23-year-old Ferreira said his goal is “to see a well-oiled team on the court and a family off the court.”
In his first week, he got to know the children and introduced them to the basics of basketball.
“He never lost sight of what Meriden meant to him,” said John Benigni, CEO of the Meriden-New Britain-Berlin YMCAs. “He loves working with youth and he has a passion for sports. He sees all children need an opportunity and an outlet.”
“A lot of people find themselves coming back to Meriden,” said Mayor Kevin Scarpati, who worked as Y sports director himself before leaving recently to work as a representative of Thompson Chocolates. Scarpati said he recommended Ferreira as his replacement to Benigni.
As a student at Maloney High School, Ferreira played soccer, basketball and volleyball and continued playing volleyball at Lasell. He said he hopes to expand the Y’s volleyball offerings.
As sports director, Ferreira will oversee all the YMCA’s sports programs, doing both administrative work and occasionally coaching, running the scoreboard or anything else that needs to be done. He also doubles as a gym teacher for the YMCA’s classes at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School.
“We’re in the business of changing lives,” Ferreira said.