Pirates Bay Waterpark/City of Baytown, Texas
Baytown, Texas - U.S.A.
Featured in World Waterpark Magazine
, January 2021
WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE?
Starting in Aquatics at the age of 15 as a lifeguard and swim instructor. I have worked for private and public entities in Ohio, Texas and Colorado. I’ve been an Aquatics Director for summer camps, an Aquatics Coordinator and I am currently the Aquatics Superintendent for the City of Baytown. I hold a bachelor of science degree from the University of Mount Union and a master’s of science in sports management degree from Liberty University.
WHAT CERTIFICATION OR LICENSING DO YOU HAVE?
I am an American Red Cross Instructor Trainer for Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor and I hold numerous other instructor certificates from the American Red Cross. I have my AFO from NRPA, the AqP from Association of Aquatic Professionals and I am a USAT Race Director.
WHAT HONORS, AWARDS OR SPECIAL RECOGNITION HAVE YOU ACHIEVED?
In 2020, my facility received World Waterpark Association’s Leading Edge Award for our new installation called “NinjaCross.” In 2020, I received National Recreation & Park Association’s Young Professional Fellowship. I have been named AOAP’s Competitor Aquatic Director of the Month and presented at regional, state, national and international conferences.
WHAT MADE YOU GO INTO THIS FIELD?
I grew up a competitive swimmer who always wanted to be like my big brother. When I turned 15 I became a lifeguard just like he was. During college I started coaching for USA Swimming and managing pools; it was at that point that I knew aquatics was the field I was meant to be in.
WHAT ASPECT OF THE WATERPARK INDUSTRY DO YOU LIKE BEST?
I really enjoy the operations or lifeguard side of things. I like training and certifying staff and helping them learn new things and being there to support them if they ever do have to enter the water to save someone. Lifeguarding taught me so many things when I was growing up and I love passing that knowledge on to others.
WHO HAS MOST INSPIRED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
I have had a lot of support over the years in my career but one person who has always supported me is my former supervisor from the City of Denton, Monica. She has always helped me when needed, answered all of my questions and encouraged me to reach for the next big thing in my career.
WH AT HAS BEEN THE GREATEST CHALLENGE IN YOUR WATERPARK CAREER?
My greatest challenge was finding my waterpark career. I knew since college that I wanted to be involved in aquatics but I also thought it would be coaching swimming. After many years of coaching and managing summer pools, I realized that my true love was managing waterparks and helping young staff grow into leaders in their communities.
HOW DO YOU KEEP FOCUSED AND MOTIVATED?
My short answer is—I swim! Swimming clears my head before a day of meetings or after a long day at the park. When the park is open to the public, you can find me walking around talking to staff and guests. My main motivation in this industry is the guests and their happiness. I thrive off of seeing young kids learn to swim, guests go- ing down a slide for the first time or just enjoying themselves while floating in the leisure river.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN WORKING IN THE WATERPARK INDUSTRY?
Take advantage of every conference, network- ing event and learning opportunity you can. Learning from your peers is the most valuable information you will get.
WHAT BOOKS OR PUBLICATIONS DO YOU RELY ON MOST FOR INSPIRATION OR MOTIVATION?
I listen to a lot of leadership podcasts to energize myself before the hiring season each year. I also enjoy reading books by Simon Sinek and listening to his podcast. When it comes to aquatics knowledge I read World Waterpark Magazine
and the weekly emails/articles from AOAP and other aquatics organizations. Facebook groups are very motivating and quick to answer when you need a little inspiration to get through a tough day in the height of the season.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB?
My favorite part is managing young adults. I love training them, building them up, watching them grow from season to season and then following up with them after they leave their “summer job” for a big kid job.
WHAT CAREER OR BUSINESS WOULD YOU CONSIDER IF YOU WERE STARTING ALL OVER AGAIN?
Ha! I don’t know. I tried a few other things before deciding on aquatics full time so I am pretty happy where I am. Maybe in a dream world I would own a summer camp. I loved being a camp director and wouldn’t mind going back to that.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED WITH THE WWA?
I got involved in WWA because a supervisor along the line somewhere told me it was a good place to further my knowledge in the field.
WHAT IS SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOU THAT FEW KNOW OR WOULD GUESS?
I am an avid DIY’er and a tech geek ... two things that don’t normally mix. Also I am obsessed with my backyard—my hammock, my two dogs and a freshly mowed lawn is my happy place!