The Eric Snow Family YMCA opened its doors for a sneak peek Thursday.

During a sneak peek Thursday of the YMCA that bears his name, Eric Snow picked up a basketball and took a ceremonial first shot in one of the gym's newly-hung hoops.

The ball stuck.

Snow, and a crowd of donors and YMCA staff, laughed. He jumped, knocked the ball out of the net and tried again in the second hoop. Then the third.

All three stuck.

The Eric Snow Family YMCA, scheduled to open Jan. 20, still needs a little work.

The YMCA opened its doors Thursday to give donors, staff and community members a preview.

Rooms house boxes of building supplies, exposed wires are visible in nearly every room, windows are missing their glass panes and most floors are bare concrete.

But when the approximately 2,600 square-foot facility in downtown Canton opens next month, it should look drastically different.

"I'm more of a finished product kind of guy," Snow said, "but it's great ... I like what I see so far."

Snow, a Canton-native, is a former McKinley High School star and had a long NBA career. He now coaches at Southern Methodist University in Texas.

Snow donated $1 million to build the new YMCA and played a big role in fundraising for the $5 million project.

"(The new Y) is an opportunity to help other people. That's what it's all about," he said. "Reaching out to the community and youth, that was my inspiration."

The new facility, at 420 Third St. NW, replaces a nearly century old, 100,000 square-foot structure that closed in 2008.

Michelle Aladich, vice president of advance for the YMCA, took The Repository on a tour.

The two-story building houses a heated recreational pool, plus whirlpool and sauna, in a spacious area with two-story wooden ceilings. The pool is designed for seniors, families and young kids, and has wide stairs that can be used for swimming lessons, she said.

The gym, also with two-story ceilings, will be used for activities like after-school sports and lunchtime basketball games, she said.

The second floor houses the wellness center. The area will have cardio equipment and free weights, plus a fitness office that offers personal training and other services. A separate multipurpose studio room will hold classes ranging from Zumba to tumbling, she said.

The facility has five locker rooms — one each for women, girls, men, boys and a family room.

It isn't all about athletics. Back on the first floor, a classroom with computers can be used for homework after school and classes for seniors, Aladich said. And a kid-friendly space will house videogames, cafe tables and comfy couches geared toward children and teenagers.

The facility is scheduled to open Jan. 20. Thursday's preview was held to fit Snow's schedule.

Here are five things you need to know about the new Y:

1. It's set to open Jan. 20

Work is ongoing, but YMCA officials are planning to launch next month.

In a nice coincidence, the date, Jan. 20, coincides with Martin Luther King Day, said Tim Shetzer, CEO of the YMCA of Central Stark County.

The Y is looking at holding an opening gala to coincide with downtown's First Friday on Feb. 7, he said.

2. It is named in honor of a local legend

Canton-native Eric Snow, a former star at McKinley High and a longtime NBA player, donated $1 million and played in a big role in fundraising.

For Snow, it's not about having his name on a building.

"It's really about having the ability to come in a building and help people," Snow said. "That's what building a legacy is all about."

3. It is replacing a YMCA that opened nearly 100 years ago

Downtown Canton's YMCA first opened in 1916, going through a number of additions until it reached 100,000 square-feet. It included an attached nine-story tower and an 105-room dormitory.

The building closed in 2008, as operating expenses outpaced revenue.

4. It still needs donors

The $5 million project is about 94 percent of the way to its fundraising goal and still looking for donations.

"Just because the building is here, doesn't mean we're done fundraising," said YMCA board chairman Joe Schauer.

The Y needs funding to finish the project and keep it operating in its first year, he said.

5. It has plenty of amenities

The approximately 26,000-square-foot building has something for everyone.

It includes a gymnasium; fitness center with cardio and weight-training equipment and room for classes; a "Kids Zone" decked out with videogames and youth-friendly furniture; a room with computers for classes and homework; an indoor pool plus whirlpool and sauna; and five lockerrooms — one each for women, girls, men, boys and families.

Reach Jessica at 330-580-8322 or

On Twitter: @jholbrookREP