Dr. Stephen Sims, ED.D
Somerset, Kentucky - USA
Featured in "World Waterpark Magazine," September 2017
WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE?
My educational experience consists of the following: a doctorate degree in education in leadership and organizational policy studies, dual master’s degrees in physical education with emphasis in sports administration and in recreation and parks administration, and a bachelor’s degree in physical education with emphasis in athletic training from Eastern Kentucky University. My professional experience consists of being the General Manager of SomerSplash Waterpark since May 2007.
WHAT CERTIFICATION OR LICENSING DO YOU HAVE?
Currently, I hold certifications in athletic training from the National Athletic Trainer’s Association Board of Certified and Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure. Plus, I am an American Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor Trainer, Water Safety Instructor, Lifeguard and an Aquatic Facility Operator.
WHAT HONORS, AWARDS OR SPECIAL RECOGNITION HAVE YOU ACHIEVED?
Honors and awards include being a member of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels. SomerSplash Waterpark also receive the Executive Board Award for The Longest Day of Play Event in 2015 from WWA’s Board of Directors.
WHAT MADE YOU GO INTO THIS FIELD?
Basically, I had experience working as a lifeguard and being a graduate assistant in aquatics at Eastern Kentucky University. When I saw an opening for the position of General Manager at SomerSplash Waterpark, I decided I would apply and the rest is history.
WHAT ASPECT OF THE WATERPARK INDUSTRY DO YOU LIKE BEST?
I enjoy how the industry is constantly changing and evolving. Also, how those within the waterpark industry are willing to help each other if possible.
WHO HAS MOST INSPIRED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
I have been very fortunate to have several mentors to help inspire me throughout my career. They consist of some of the top athletic trainers in the industry including: Bud Carpenter, Shone Gipson, Greg McMillen, Chris Fischetti and Dr. Ron Wagner. My aquatic career has been inspired by Ellen McMahan, Judy Cox and Ann Epperson. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for those three individuals helping me throughout my aquatics career. Lastly, Dr. Michael Bradley has helped me throughout my educational career at Eastern Kentucky University.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE GREATEST CHALLENGE IN YOUR WATERPARK CAREER?
I have had to learn every aspect of the waterpark industry on my own. So, if it wasn’t for the great supporting staff I have, like Roger Brown, I’m not sure how everything would get finished.
HOW DO YOU KEEP FOCUSED AND MOTIVATED?
Basically, I like to spend time with family and friends. Luckily, I am a very motivated individual, especially when someone tells me I cannot do something. It’s my goal in life to prove that I can do anything I set my mind to.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN WORKING IN THE WATERPARK INDUSTRY?
Always listen and pay close attention to those that have been in the industry and are willing to give valuable advice. Their knowledge is priceless!
WHAT BOOKS OR PUBLICATIONS DO YOU RELY ON MOST FOR INSPIRATION OR MOTIVATION?
Actually, most of my inspiration or motivation comes from my family and friends. They are constantly helping me to strive and achieve my goals no matter what I decide to do.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB?
Personally, I love getting to help young adults learn new skills and helping them prepare for their future endeavors.
WHAT CAREER OR BUSINESS WOULD YOU CONSIDER IF YOU WERE STARTING ALL OVER AGAIN?
Honestly, I’m not sure I would change anything. All my experiences have helped shape me into who I am today.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED WITH THE WWA?
I volunteered at the 2007 WWA Symposium. I had a great time, and I still tell everyone that volunteering is the best way to network within the industry. I believe my students at Eastern Kentucky University got tired of hearing about the importance of networking.
WHAT IS SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOU THAT FEW KNOW OR WOULD GUESS?
While in college, I was a summer intern with the Buffalo Bills athletic training staff of the NFL for two summers, and I still work games with them when they play in Cincinnati, Nashville, Indianapolis or any other cities close to Kentucky.