Marysville gamers support YMCA program

Juan-Carlos Chichilla, center, offers advice to C.J. Cruz, left, and Bukana Ha’i during the Marysville YMCA Youth Development Center’s March 16 Super Smash Bros. Brawl Tournament. - Kirk Boxleitner
Juan-Carlos Chichilla, center, offers advice to C.J. Cruz, left, and Bukana Ha’i during the Marysville YMCA Youth Development Center’s March 16 Super Smash Bros. Brawl Tournament.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — While the final totals are still being added up, the Marysville YMCA’s Youth Development Center came alive with competitors and spectators alike for its four-hour Super Smash Bros. Brawl Tournament on Friday, March 16, which raised funds for the Y’s Youth and Government program.

Toni Gamalinda, 12, has been playing the video game for the past four years, thanks to the influence of big brother J.J., 19, who came to the tournament with her to cheer her on.

“My brother and his friends, and my friends, were always playing it and hanging out,” said Toni Gamalinda, for whom that Friday night was her first Super Smash Bros. Brawl Tournament. “I felt nervous to play here because I was scared I would lose, but it’s been really fun. This is a really cool place,” she said of the Youth Development Center. “There’s lot of TVs and computers, lots of people and lots of games for kids to play.”

J.J. Gamalinda appeared even more excited to be watching his sister play than she was to be playing the game, as he and his friends cheered and punched their fists in the air whenever she demonstrated skills she’s gained over time, such as dodging and taking advantage of other players’ power-ups.

“I did not know she was this good,” J.J. Gamalinda said, before laughing as he imagined how their parents would react to learning that he’d converted her into a video gamer. “She trains and practices for this just like she does for anything else. She’s a straight-A student and an athlete, and me and my friends are proud that she can beat us badly enough to shut us up every once in a while.”

While the age-bracketed rounds of play made for safe but spirited entertainment that evening, as kids and young adults alike shouted and laughed and flailed wildly with their controllers, the event is intended to support more civic-minded pursuits as well, since all dollars raised will go toward the Marysville YMCA Youth and Government program’s transportation fees, food expenses, membership costs and financial aid in general.

Youth and Government program members will go to Olympia from May 2-5 this year, to debate the bills they have been working on since November of 2011, and 16-year-old Jason Guanzon will be among them.

“The last time I went to Olympia, I spent the first day as a page, running notes to and from the chamber and the capitol,” said Guanzon, a Marysville Getchell High School student enrolled at Running Start in Everett Community College. “The next day, I was debating my peers about the bills that we had all come up with.”

This year, Guanzon looks forward to debating fellow students from across the state, as he pushes forward a bill of his own, which would seek to remove the GED and require students to remain in school until the age of 18.

“We would provide them with alternative schools, that would come from the same schools after hours, for kids who have to work jobs during the day,” Guanzon said. “Just in my three years in high school, I’ve seen a lot of my peers give up on their education without realizing the impact it will have on their future. Education opens them up to bigger things.”

Guanzon learned through experience during his last Youth and Government trip to Olympia that he will need to anticipate all the questions that opponents or critics of his bill might ask.

“You can be confident about the information behind your bill, as long as you think critically and examine all sides of the issue,” Guanzon said.


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