Mom Ashley, Dad Ryan and their four adorable children, Maximiliano, age 1; Genesis, age 3; Malik, age 5; and Malakai, age 7. They are from a French Creole background and moved from Louisiana to Arizona in 2014. They love to travel, being outdoors and staying extremely active, which is how they ended up at our YMCA.

Ashley Nicholas just graduated from nursing school last month, and Ryan Nicholas is an ecologist, so they were needing activities to fit around their busy schedules.

They say that when they walked into our Y, they were instantly welcomed with open arms.

They also say that our staff was extremely friendly, helpful and patient with them while they were trying to get their kids into different programs and sports.

Ashley mentioned that they bring the kids to the pool a lot and that swim instructor/lifeguard Marissa is so great that Ashley wants to come back next season and have Marissa teach her how to swim. Ryan and Ashley also commented on how amazing Terry, Donna, and Tish are at the front desk. Ashley’s exact words were “We fell in love with your Y and are so happy that we have a fun and caring place to bring our kids!”

Maximiliano is now registered for itty bitty sports along with Genesis, who is also in ballet. Malik and Malakai are both in karate, soccer, and basketball. Malakai also plays volleyball. Malakai’s soccer coach, Chad Bennett, shares the following story about Malakai’s first goal:

“The first day of soccer was filled with excitement and fun. I had two little boys come in a little late, and I had them tell me their names,” Bennett says. The first boy told me his name was Malakai and that he was excited about the season and that he has played soccer before.

“Once the game started, I realized that he maybe hadn’t played a lot before because his skills were a little below average,” says Bennett. “But as the season went on I knew he would get better. That’s why we’re here, to help the kids learn and grow. I told him, ‘Malakai, we’ve got a lot of work to do, but you are going to get a goal by the end of this season.’

“Halfway through the season, in our fourth game, Malakai was playing great and getting a lot of touches on the ball,” relays Bennett. “In the second quarter, Malakai was running for the ball when, all of a sudden, another kid kicked the ball up and—boom—hit Malakai right in the face. I thought to myself, ‘Oh no, we’re going to have one less kid the rest of the game.’ But I was wrong. Malakai sat down for a second and then got right back into the game.

“By our last game of the season,” says Bennett, “Malakai still had not gotten that goal. I told him, ‘This is the day.’ When the third quarter started, Malakai was at forward. His team had the ball and was striking forward. He headed toward the goal, where Adam had the ball in the corner. Adam passed it to Malakai, and Malakai kicked that ball right at the net, and it went in!

“He gave me the biggest high five and was so ecstatic,” says Bennett. “I was so happy for him. I was glad that he scored and got his goal he worked so hard for.“
The entire Northwest Valley Y is happy Malakai scored his goal and glad to have the Nicholas family as part of our branch!