We Are All in This Together

In May of 2003, Natalie Gilbert, a 13-year-old girl was singing the national anthem at a Portland Trailblazer’s playoff game. You can imagine the nightmare when young Natalie faltered under the spotlight of this big event - when the words escaped her and she stopped singing. Maurice Cheeks, the Trail Blazer’s coach walked from the bench to her side, told her everything would be okay, and started to sing with her to remind her of the words. By the end of the anthem, the inspired crowd was singing along.Just a few months after this game, my family and I drove from Atlanta to New Jersey to visit family for a few days and then on to Colorado to begin a new job, career, and life in Colorado Springs with the NSPF. My sons still remind me about the five “LONG” days on the road, but the lessons from that story are for another posting. In those many hours in the car, my mind often lingered on how bright the spotlight would shine at a “big event” I would be asked to lead.There have been times under the intensity of the spotlight when the right words escaped me. My story, like Natalie’s, is one where leaders have left the bench to stand by my side, helping me get back to the melody. One-by-one, more voices are coming from the stands. I don’t know what the acoustics were like in that stadium, but from where I am standing, it is starting to sound really great.Like at a ball game, those in the stadium are usually primarily interested in the ball game itself. Often, the anthem is overlooked and considered ceremony rather than a reminder of our fundamental principles. However, when we are at risk, the principles of our anthem become center stage. The principles reflected in NSPF’s anthem are our programs that focus on illness, injury, and drowning prevention and encourage more people to benefit from pools, spas, and aquatic facilities.The people in our ‘stadium’ are employees at an aquatic facility or waterpark, lifeguards, service technicians, maintenance people at hotels and apartment complexes, chemical and equipment manufacturers, health officials, retailers, builders, and other industry professionals. All are primarily interested in their game, in achieving the goals of their employers. I am so thankful to be hearing more voices in our stadium singing the anthem of prevention as part of their game. Our anthem is ringing true in their minds and hearts.As professionals, it is vital that we minimize events that jeopardize the well-being of our patrons and our employees. An incident-free aquatic experience makes good ethical and business sense. We CAN prevent most issues with more education and research into areas where there are knowledge gaps. Perhaps more importantly, recreational water improves people’s health. If we succeed in preventing the bad and communicating the good, many more peoples’ lives will be transformed and the recreational water industry will prosper. It is important to remember this during the challenging time our field is experiencing.As more voices join the chorus and the volume grows, more will hear and sing along. I am so thankful for all of you who have walked off the bench to stand beside me and help me know the right words. I am so thankful for all of you who are singing the prevention and health benefit anthem. I am so thankful for all those who have adopted NSPF® training programs for yourself and your facility. With the creation of the Pool Genius Network, a new stadium has been created. I urge each of you to start singing along. After all, the support we provide each other is the best music of all.[Edited from the NSPF Newsletter, Nov. 2006]
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  • Tom,
    As Rex already said, "You touched my heart Tom". Thank you, not only for the story, but for all the great work you and the NSPF do for our industry. You know, I often begin one of my public talks by asking the audience, " How many of you have reached your level of success, however you define it, because some one believed in you even when you didn't believe in yourself?" And the numbers of people responding with their hand held high in the air never ceases to amaze me.
    So, along with the many voices from all corners of our industry the music we sing together does become stronger and stronger.
  • Thanks Rex,
    Your the best!
  • You touched my heart Tom. There's always a lot more work behind the scenes that no body knows about. I thank you for the great work you and the NSPF have done. And I thank every one of you who has so warmly embraced the idea, the dream, of us all coming together as one community. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
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