Paid to Play: The Day in the Life of Joel

When I tell people that I am the Sports Director for the YMCA, I usually get two responses. The first response is, “What do you do all day or week to have that as a full-time job?” The second response would be, “How do you manage all that and find time for yourself?” Throughout the year, both questions are valid.

Let us start with an easy day when no programs are happening. I would consider my easy days my catch-up and relationship-building days. As someone who works a lot of evenings and weekends, you probably will not see me in my office until 10 a.m. or later on these days. My day usually starts with a few conversations with members or co-workers as I work my way to my office. Once I am in my office, I will check and clean my emails up, making sure everything has been responded to or finished. Communication is a large part of my job, making sure everyone is on the same page from Y staff to captains, coaches, participants and parents/guardians. This would also include marketing upcoming programs.

My favorite part of these “catch-up” days is when the kids get out of school because that means playtime for me! I enjoy getting a basketball game going with the kids, especially since rebounds and blocks were not my main strengths back in my playing days so I like to pad my stats there now! After the kiddos wear me down, I switch over to playing pickleball with the evening group. Pickleball was a sport I loved playing in P.E. in high school and am glad to see it become such a popular sport and to be able to bring it to the YMCA. I like to end my evening by facing Quinn Johnson in a 3-point competition that I came up with. It usually does not go well for me.

On busy days with programs happening, my day is different. Baseball/softball season would be the busiest time as I have more than 25 teams to oversee. My mornings start around 9 a.m. during this season, and my office is the ball fields. There are two reasons to start on the field early: to beat the heat in the middle of the day and to get ahead of extra work that may be needed from rain from the previous evening. Once fields are done, it becomes communication time. As mentioned before, it is very important. This also requires communicating with coordinators and coaches from other towns. I have had days with 60 plus group texts or calls.

Once the field prep and communication are taken care of, it’s game time! At times, we can have up to five different fields in town with games going on, usually two games on most fields, along with all the games being played in other towns by Holdrege teams. I like to post up in a spot in the garage at the fields to make sure umpires and coaches have everything they need. I also track all the scores of my teams, as they have to be reported afterward. Usually around 10 p.m. I will lock up, shut the field lights off and call it a night so I can do it all over again the next day!

With both the easy and hard days, I enjoy my job so much as I have great co-workers, and have gotten to know so many people in town, especially the great people who volunteer for my programs. I have such fond memories of playing sports as a child, and now I get the opportunity to help make memories for so many kids in the community. I also get to play in my own adult programs, and I like to joke that I always knew I would be paid to play sports. I just thought there would be a few more zeros on the end!


  • Rhonda Dicke Posted June 1, 2022 9:30 pm

    Joel you are awesome at your job!

  • Kara Schadegg Posted June 2, 2022 11:46 am

    We love having you at the Y

Leave a Reply

Live Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *