My story joining the “Happiest place on Earth” cast:
After graduating and coaching basketball for 2 years at my alma mater, I made the huge leap to start over in Orlando, FL. I wanted to go where no one knew me and see what I could make of it.
Over Spring Break in 1998, I visited my newlywed friends Alanda & Wayne who had moved to “The City Beautiful”. I was offered 2 jobs on the spot – #1 was an administrative assistant at a construction company & #2 was a hospitality hostess at either the All-Sports Resort or the Polynesian Resort. I returned to Lenoir-Rhyne College to pack up my minimum belongings and moved a week later.
Being a Disney nut, the choice was obvious even though it started at minimum wage with a college education. And everyone would think I picked the sporty option, as I was known as the jock. But remember, no one knew that persona in sunny FL, so I shocked my friends when I showed up to the upscale “Poly” having to don a lavender blazer, flowery bow tie & tan long skirt. Being that I got hired in the start of summer, I was dripping every day walking into work from the cast parking lot far, far away.
After intense Disney training known as Traditions, I got thrown into the craziness of the #1 vacation destination in the world. I picked up every overtime shift available and learned all the front desk roles in no time. With no seniority, I actually chose to take on the 3rd shift night auditor to somehow use my math degree and get 3 days off a week (4 overnight shifts * 10 hrs = more time to explore FL). And I loved being the courier/runner because I got to take & pick up deliveries to all different places on property, so I learned all the roads and secret entrances.
I’ll never forget my favorite part of the overnight shift was folding all the departing guests bills and then having to run around the resort delivering them by kicking them under doors. I made it a big game and had my own routes where I would try to beat my times nightly. I got so good at it that we would have time to watch 2 movies upon my return and prior to our morning counterparts arriving. Ahhhhh, the good ol’ days. And that was when I knew that I could and wanted to do more.
I also picked up a second job at the Central FL YMCA as a membership rep, which also led to being an after school counselor & an aquatics lifeguard supervisor for a summer. I slept when I could, but in your early 20s, I had boundless energy anyways.
After 8 months, I started getting antsy and I put all my efforts into volunteering at the newly opened Disney’s Wide World of Sports. I knew I had found my calling – sports & Disney in the same sentence was my definition of the perfect role. My first few events I helped at track and field meets, plus the elite Clay Court Tennis Championships. Being that I was the youngest volunteer by like 25 years, I won the coveted spot on center court sweeping lines for the pros like Michael Chang & Jim Courier. That was my ticket. I learned the operations, met the leaders and was picked up immediately, as I knew they would have to expand and hire to grow this new concept.
15 years later……. ✨ ✨✨