I grew up in southwest Ohio and have been in, on, or around water for as long as I can remember. I started working at a State Park marina at the age of 13 and continued throughout highschool. After an interesting freshman year of college, I found my way out west to “visit” my brother in New Mexico. I searched for water and found the largest body of water around me happened to be a waterpark. I began working as a lifeguard, then lifeguard trainer, Aquatic Supervisor, Aquatic Manager and Assistant Manager over my 16 years there. Through training acquired while at the waterpark, I became and EMT and joined the Bernalillo County Fire Department as a Volunteer Firefighter and member of the Aquatic Rescue team. I was hired full-time with them in 1995, but Scuba was still the farthest thing from my mind living in the desert. Strangely, an opportunity opened with the Aquatics team and I passed my Open Water certification in 1997. The Aquatic Rescue program fell apart shortly after, and my scuba diving was then limited to pool maintenance at the waterpark and training dives at the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, NM. I nearly gave up on diving at that point, especially after the waterpark closed in 2004.
In June 2010, I jumped at an opportunity to travel with friends to Belize and go scuba diving. This was my first time diving in anything other than a pool or a cold New Mexico sinkhole. That trip opened my eyes to how amazing Scuba could be!!! That’s also when I decided I wanted to do more with scuba.
I ended up taking Advanced Open Water and Rescue Diver during the fall of 2010. I completed my Divemaster training in April of 2011. I knew I wanted to become an instructor, so I came to Florida with a friend to check out dive schools. I met a fantastic Course Director in Ft. Lauderdale, which made the decision very easy for me. In March of 2013 I completed my full IDC/MSDT program. By April 2014, I was officially a MSDT.
I worked at the shop that did my Instructor certification until 2017, then I began working with my friend who owned a home-based dive shop (Scuba 8) in Albuquerque/Rio Rancho, NM. As a smaller business it wasn’t about rushing people through and producing scuba card holders. We focused on smaller, more personalized classes and really prided ourselves on creating safe divers, as well as making their scuba experience fun.
On December 31, 2019, I retired as a Deputy Chief with the Bernalillo County Fire Department. That was also the month that we started interior construction on the Scuba 8 Store! We were ready to have our GRAND OPENING the weekend of March 14th 2020 ….. unfortunately, Covid 19 shut everything down on Friday March 13th, 2020. We rebounded well, learned a lot about retail, equipment maintenance and repair, and kept increasing our Scuba 8 dive family; we had built a great shop.
I decided back in 2013 that I was going to move to Florida after I retired (because no one ever does that.) It was hard to leave my amazing NM dive family and my scuba partner, but after 32 years of “high desert” and no water … I had to get out!! I arrived here in July of 2021 and have been enjoying my new adventure ever since.
After several months of visiting dive shops and checking out what opportunities existed for me to teach and join a dive family, I met the crew at Letts Dive!! and Captain Joe. The store had a great feel, sold products that I was somewhat familiar with, and everyone was super nice. I was immediately invited to the December Dive Club meeting and was welcomed by a huge Letts Dive!! dive family. It really lived up to the core of its mission statement: “Deep Down, We Care”. I felt included from the beginning.
Capt. Joe and Brenda gave me a shot and let me co-teach a couple classes at the beginning of March 2022 and have been stuck with me ever since! I’m having a blast and enjoy working with the staff of Letts Dive!! as well as all the great students and extended Letts Dive!! family.
My favorite dive spot? …. I don’t have just ONE, but I’ve gotten the opportunity to dive in the Bahamas, Belize, Roatan Honduras, St Thomas USVI, Maui, Cozumel, Playa Del Carmen, Cabo San Lucas, and on a weeklong liveaboard from Sint Maarten to St. Kitts. ...not to mention diving around Florida, in New Mexico (24 yrs), and Utah (Homestead Crater & Seabase.)