East Hanover, New Jersey - USA
Featured in "World Waterpark Magazine," October/November 2017
WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE?
I graduated from Indiana University in 2001 and began working as an Aquatics Manager for Cedar Point and Castaway Bay. In 2006, I accepted a position as the Aquatics Director for the soon- to-be-opened Splash Universe in Dundee, Michi- gan. In 2009, I again helped open a new waterpark at the Radisson Hotel and Waterpark. From there, I moved on to a position as the Aquatics Director at the Stephens Family YMCA in Champaign, Illinois. Currently, I am the Aquatics Director at the Funplex in East Hanover, N.J.
WHAT CERTIFICATION OR LICENSING DO YOU HAVE?
I am an instructor for NASCO, a Certified Pool Operator and an instructor for YMCA lifeguarding and swim instruction.
WHAT MADE YOU GO INTO THIS FIELD?
I went to Indiana University to teach high school English. After a year of substitute teaching, I decided that I loved teaching but I didn’t love working in a school. This was the summer I took a summer job as a lifeguard at Cedar Point. I immediately fell in love with the job and the atmosphere. After one summer there, I was invited back as part of the supervision crew where I learned that I would get to teach Ellis & Associates lifeguard classes. From that point on, I was hooked because I was still able to teach and guide young kids.
WHAT ASPECT OF THE WATERPARK INDUSTRY DO YOU LIKE BEST?
By far I enjoy the training and staff development part of my job the best. I am constantly try- ing to find new and different ways to teach the vital information that lifeguards have to know in a way that can really connect to them and make them truly care about the job and the important position they are in.
WHO HAS MOST INSPIRED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
There really are two former bosses that in- spired me and are huge role models. The first is John Wolshuck, who was my manager at Cedar Point. He was the first who really made me care about lifeguarding and see what an important job it can be. The second would be Mark Moore, who gave me my first real shot at a director position at Splash Universe and taught me how to make that jump into a director’s position.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE GREATEST CHALLENGE IN YOUR WATERPARK CAREER?
The biggest challenge is always trying to balance a working career with a personal life. As anyone in this industry knows, it can definitely be long and grueling hours and it sometimes is hard to step out of that constant work mindset. If anyone reading this can achieve that balance, I will happily take the pointers on how you did it.
HOW DO YOU KEEP FOCUSED AND MOTIVATED?
Well, first of all I love what I do which helps me stay very motivated and I always am working around some amazing young people which helps motivate me as well. I do try to schedule two get-aways a year to refocus and revitalize. I love to travel and I find that these trips help me reset and allow me to focus on the next stretch.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN WORKING IN THE WATERPARK INDUSTRY?
I would say you have to be ready to be very driven yet flexible. We work in a crazy, hectic, fast paced environment and you have to be ready for whatever gets thrown at you. If you thrive in that world where you get dealt the unknown on a daily basis, then you should have no problem in this industry.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB?
By far my favorite thing is taking a kid who never has had a job before and seeing how proud he or she can be by the end of the season at what he or she has accomplished. That is ultimately why I do what I do.
WHAT CAREER OR BUSINESS WOULD YOU CONSIDER IF YOU WERE STARTING ALL OVER AGAIN?
I think I would have been successful in the medical field. I have surprised myself on several occasions on how cool, calm and collected I have been during high stress events. I’ve often thought of still looking into taking some paramedic classes.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED WITH THE WWA?
While working with Splash Universe, I was fortunate enough to be able to go to a WWA show. From that experience as well as the contact through various safety schools, vendors and open- ing new parks, I have had the fortune of meeting a lot of the various people involved with WWA.
WHAT IS SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOU THAT FEW KNOW OR WOULD GUESS?
I’m a big traveler. I only have three states within the U.S. left to get to before I have made it to all 50: Alaska, Maine and Oregon. And I’m heading to Maine in the fall.