Getting to Know: Garry Mason

September 11, 2013

By Deb Carneol, Social Media & Birthday Party Coordinator

As summer comes to a close, and our school year has begun, we have a few new faces that our families will be seeing throughout the JCC!

We are pleased to introduce Garry Mason, the JCC’s new Recreation Coordinator.  I sat down with Garry to learn more about his background, experiences, and excitement in joining the JCC’s Recreation team.

Deb Carneol: What is your background when it comes to Sports recreation?

Garry Mason: I graduated from Central Michigan University with a degree in Sports Studies and minors in Marketing and Journalism, but my professional focus has really always been the Sports Studies. Right out of college, I interned with two different Minor League Baseball teams and at two different universities.  I originally thought I wanted to work in facility management and administration, but found myself enjoying the preparation I did for major sporting events. That led me toward the sports recreation field, where I could set up my own leagues and programs. Around the time I thought I wanted a sport recreation job, a friend of mine was moving to Wisconsin and I thought “why not make a change?”  So I moved to Wisconsin and shortly after I got my first recreation job at the YMCA in Madison as the Recreation and Sports Coordinator there.

DC: How long have you been working in sports recreation?

GM: My internships at the Universities and in the Minor League Baseball Teams were mostly sales oriented, with a little bit of program planning, so I really didn’t get started in the recreation field until I became the Recreation and Sports Coordinator at the YMCA in Madison in January 2006.  I have been in that field since then, but I was also involved in childcare for a few years, running three different childcare sites. The combination of the recreation background and child development is perfect for my job here at the JCC, because I get to work with athletes of all ages.

DC: What is your favorite sport to coach?

GM: My favorite sport to coach would have to be football. I have always called myself a “half-lete”, because I am not the most athletic, but when I play, I play with a lot of heart and passion.  I was definitely a “half-lete” when it came to football: my knowledge base was huge, but I wasn’t the best player.  Because I know so much about the game though, it makes coaching that much more fun.  I also love that in football, the sport is really a team sport. You really cannot make a play without the guy standing next to you, and I love teaching the concept of teamwork to my athletes and “half-letes”.

DC: What is your favorite part about being a coach then?

GM: I have two different answers for that based on the type of athlete I am working with. The first is the athlete that is really good at his/her sport or knows how to play that sport already. My favorite part about coaching that type of athlete is watching him/her become a leader in that sport and really develop his/her skills. The other is the athlete that does not know much about the sport or is not at a high skill level for the sport.  My favorite part about coaching that type of athlete is watching that athlete develop skills and develop a true love of the sport.   I also love watching teams develop from a group of random athletes into a team.

DC: What do you do to motivate your athletes?

GM: First of all, you will notice that I do not yell.  I get to know my athletes first to see what kind of motivation fits them individually first and I tailor what I say to motivate to the individual. I also try to make things fun. Taking standard practice and putting a creative twist on it changes it up for the athletes; it helps them enjoy the game and practice better.  I also make sure they know that it is “just a game” and that it will not be the end of the world if they lose or do not make a play perfectly.  My athletes know that as long as they go and do their best, they will be winners.  

DC: You have been at the JCC for a few months now, so what kind of programs might we see in the future?

GM: Something that I really want to work on is turning some of our children’s sports clinics into leagues.  So the kids would come and have a practice and then play each other.  We could get parents involvement and really turn it into something bigger.  In terms of adult recreation, I would love to see the JCC start more “alternative” sports leagues, like indoor kickball, dodgeball, maybe even water polo.

DC: I would totally join an indoor kickball team!  What is one thing you have learned while working at the JCC?

GM:  I have learned is that the JCC is one big family.  My coworkers are supportive and want to see me succeed.  There is also the mentality that it is okay to try new things.  If those ideas do not work out as intended, it is okay, because you have learned something in the process.  I appreciate that type of work environment.

DC: Time for our “getting to know you questions.” Where are you from? Do you have pets? 

GM: I have to say that I am from all over the place.  I was born in Ohio, but grew up in the Detroit, Michigan area, and have lived in 8 different states over the course of my life: Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Florida, South Carolina and Wisconsin.  I do have a dog named Gracie.

DC: Growing up, did you play recreational sports? 

GM: I grew up playing football, but I also played baseball and basketball as well.  Currently, I play softball in a recreational league.

DC: Out of those sports, what is your favorite sport to play? What is your favorite sport to watch?

GM: I love to play baseball.  I love the traditions and the unwritten rules.  When it comes to watching sports though, my favorite is definitely football (both college and professional because they are totally different games).  I can absolutely get lost on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon watching football.

DC: If you could play on one professional sports team for a day, what team would that be and why?

GM: I would love to play second base for the Detroit Tigers because of the history of the team, and because growing up that was the sport I was best at. 

DC: Any last thoughts?

GM: I am so happy to be here at the JCC and I can’t wait to meet all our members and users!

Contact Garry Mason at 414-967-8275 or