Leo McIntosh – Abraham Lincoln 1989 “Hope and Opportunity”

 Photo taken by Morrissey Photo

Photo taken by Morrissey Photo

Leo McIntosh doesn’t sit still for very long – he’s always on the move. The first thing he shares when asked about things he enjoys; traveling tops the list.  Adventures turned into memories, the best way to spend time with family and friends.

His experiences at Abraham Lincoln High School surrounded athletics and the relationships formed as being part of a team.  He played football, wrestled and was part of intramural basketball during his high school years.  As he stands in the gym at the Y, the sports he loved are still a big part of his day to day activities.

After graduation from AL, the opportunity to travel was courtesy of the US Navy.  The first time traveling beyond the states that border Iowa, Leo spent 4 years in the Navy stationed in Mississippi, San Diego, Orlando and Coronado Island.  His time in the Navy was during the Persian Gulf War and he was thankful that his “travels” did not take him overseas.  The Navy provided him the opportunity to get his life back on track a bit, and receive his education.  While many of his fellow naval buddies were at the beach, he found himself in his room studying.  While enrolled in college, Leo was able to maintain a 4.0 grade point average and surprised a few of his high school teachers.  As he remembered their reactions he laughed as attendance during his days at AL may not have been a top priority, and yet he graduated from college ahead of many of his friends.  His priorities had changed and his plans included returning to the Navy as an officer after he received his degree from Southern Illinois, where ironically his travels never took him to the actual campus.   Those plans changed when he met his wife Nichole, a graduate of Thomas Jefferson and he stayed in the Bluffs to start a family.

Leo also credits the Navy for his love of fitness.  While his sister was always the one that was the wellness model in the family, owning fitness facilities and being active,  he soon joined her ranks as a fitness promoter.  His Navy Lieutenant got him interested in running and the first ½ marathon he ran, they ran together.  While the military “encourages” and teaches exercise, Leo transformed himself and his appearance, starting him on his way to a healthier life that would provide the basis for his future plans.

Today he loves being involved in activities in Council Bluffs that promote healthy living. Healthy living is not just a personal lifestyle choice, but a passion and his career vocation.  As the Council Bluffs YMCA Executive Director and Group Vice President of Iowa Operations, Leo spends his days working with the community, encouraging healthy living and medically based wellness for the members he supports. He is proud of the partnerships created through the Y, creating opportunities for youth to be involved in sports and to be part of a team, something many may not have the chance to do without programs like the Y. Partnering with Iowa Western Community College, area kids have the opportunity to be part of a team, and learn more about sports and life lessons of teamwork and work ethic from local volunteer coaches. It is a full circle relationship that takes Leo back to his childhood as part of the South End Metro team and winning league titles.  Leo adds more to his personal schedule as he also volunteers as a youth coach, working to provide hope and opportunities to students that attend the feeder schools that flow into the Council Bluffs high schools.  Coaching provides him the opportunity to be a positive role model, something he was so thankful to have a child.

Leo is also proud of the Council Bluffs school district and Abraham Lincoln High School.  However, his son Abe may be even more proud, recently drawing “AL IS AWESOME”  in permanent marker on his bedroom wall as a testament to his unwavering school spirit. Leo’s pride in his school centers back again to opportunities.  Leo and his wife Nichole are parents to Abbie (17), Abe (11) and Addie (7) – all future Alumni of ALHS.  Students in the district have the opportunity to earn college credit while attending high school; an opportunity he hopes many students choose to pursue. As a parent, he is personally grateful for the opportunity to save a little bit of college tuition costs!  He credits the Council Bluffs Community Schools administrative team for their leadership in creating opportunities for all students, something he recognizes Dr. Bruckner, Superintendent, for spearheading. The new buildings and renovations to the Stadium Complex are all things the community can be proud of as well.

The Y will soon be bringing another exciting building project to Council Bluffs with the construction of the new Y facility.  After being part of the new Y in Mills County, Leo is excited to be part of the staff team bringing the state of the art facility to the area. When he took his role with the Y, his goal was to make the new Y a reality and excited to see that hope become a reality with the support of the community.  Travelers along Kanesville Blvd can watch the project development and the facility begin to take shape over the next few months.

Each day he goes to work, he continues to build upon the framework of hope and opportunity, one healthy endeavor at a time.