Meet YMCA Members: The Lovealls
To say Connor and Kelsey are outdoor enthusiasts would be a bit of an understatement. The two met in northern California while guiding along the South Fork of the American River. When they finally “retired” from guiding, Connor had nine seasons under his belt and Kelsey, eight.
“I was a math teacher during the school year and guiding during the summer,” explained Kelsey. “We wanted to have kids and needed jobs that were more sustainable than the seasonal work we’d been doing.”
“We still loved whitewater rafting, though, and wanted to live in a community where we could raise our kids on the water,” added Connor. They’d heard good things about Missoula, so the two built out the back of their Dodge Ram and headed north, arriving at their new home in August 2015.
Kelsey went right into teaching while Connor worked as an EMT and later attended paramedics school with the goal of becoming a firefighter.
“I got on with MESI working on an ambulance and then harassed the fire department for a job,” said Connor with a laugh. Connor’s persistence paid off and he became a full-time firefighter for the Missoula Fire Department.
Since moving to Missoula, the Loveall family grew to include three children—Hayden, Emily, and Makenna.
“Sanity brought us to the YMCA,” joked Kelsey. “Connor was in school and studying a lot. He’d drop our kids off at Child Watch and would study at the Y while kids played.”
“Emily, Melissa, and Wendy in Child Watch are terrific," said Connor. "They love our kids and our kids love them."
"The YMCA allows us time to have adult conversation," added Kelsey. "Classes become social time for us."
Pre-pandemic, the family had a regular routine that included a mix of weights and classes. As pandemic life fades away, the Loveall family is easing back into its routine. Kelsey loves attending barre and cycling classes, while Connor is training for the annual Firefighter Stairclimb.
“The Firefighter Stairclimb is a race up the Columbia Tower in Seattle,” explained Connor. “You’re racing up 73 floors of stairs in full gear.”
To train, he uses the YMCA’s stair steppers while wearing a weighted vest. As the race draws near, he’ll don full gear for his YMCA workouts.
“In total, it’s about 50 pounds of gear,” he said. “The Missoula Fire Department has won every year since 2012, so there’s an expectation that you’ll train hard and perform well. The Y allows me to train, which is great."
Connor will be competing in this year’s competition on March 13. On behalf of the YMCA, good luck to Connor and the Loveall family who will be cheering him on!