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Former Monessen basketball star Bright now stars with YMCA

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A basketball star at Monessen High School and Bucknell University, Michael C. Bright is now a star with the YMCA.

The president and chief executive officer of the Newark (N.J.) YMCA, Bright is also serving a three-year term as a member of the national board of the YMCA of the USA. The national board ensures that YMCAs across the country have the leadership, resources and support needed to have a positive impact nationwide

He began his 16-year YMCA career as program director at the Newark YMCA and has held executive positions at the YMCA of Greater St. Louis, the Five Points Family YMCA in New Jersey and the YMCA of Central and Northern Westchester in New York.

While at the Five Points branch, Bright helped lead the association through a $23 million capital campaign, which included $3.2 million worth of expansion and renovation projects for the branch.

Bright returned to the Newark YMCA as chief operating officer in 2007 and has served as president and CEO since July 2011. He is a member of the YMCA's Multicultural Executive Development Program, African-American Executive Forum and Multicultural Mentoring Program, and board member of the Association of YMCA Professionals - a professional development organization of the YMCA.

“It is an honor and a privilege to serve the national YMCA in this capacity. I can think of no better opportunity to impact lives,” said Bright. “I started my career with the hope that I could change one life; I now have the chance to change millions through the great work the YMCA does nationally.”

DestinNations Magazine named Bright as its 2012 Businessman of the Year.

Bright was the co-captain and star on Monessen's 1988 Class A PIAA championship team and the Greyhounds repeated as state champions the following year under longtime head coach Joe Salvino. The 1987-88 Greyhounds finished 24-5 overall and defeated Bristol (PIAA Dist. 1) in the state championship game, 62-60.

At Bucknell, Bright earned a bachelor degree in history. He also minored in English.

A collegiate slam forward and shooting guard, Bright was selected as the 1992-93 Patriot League Men's Basketball Player of the Year after leading the league in scoring. He led the Bison to the regular season league championship with a 13-1 mark and was named to the conference's all-tournament team after helping Bucknell win two post-season games before falling to Holy Cross in the title game. The Bison finished with a 23-6 overall record.

Bright is Bucknell's third all-time scorer with 1,670 points and also remains the school's career steals leader with 286, Bright also grabbed 834 career rebounds, seventh all-time at Bucknell, and he is one of only two players in school history to record 1,500 points and 800 rebounds. He finished as the program's career leader in three-point field goals with 206 and also ranks third in school history in both career blocked shots (120) and games played (117).

He earned the Christy Mathewson Award as the top senior athlete in his class in 1993 and was elected into Bucknell's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005. Bright became the second Monessen student-athlete to receive Bucknell's highest athletic honor.

Football star Sam Havrilak was inducted into the Bucknell Hall of Fame in 1981.

At Bucknell, Havrilak was a two-time All-American quarterback who was twice named the Mid Atlantic Conference Most Valuable Player honor in 1967 and 1968. His 397 total offensive yards in a victory over Colgate in 1968 still stands as a school single-game record.

His versatility was showcased in the National Football League where he played running back, wide receiver, quarterback, defensive back, tight end, and special teams for the Baltimore Colts and New Orleans Saints from 1969-74.

Havrilak was inducted into the Mid-Mon Valley All Sports Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame this past October.

Bruce Wald is a freelance writer.

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