Since becoming General Manager of the Cornerstone Aquatics Center in West Hartford, Conn. a year ago, Mike Kerrigan has been involved in everything, including the locker room sink. A lifelong resident of West Hartford, Kerrigan started with HealthFitness after spending 20-plus years with the greater Hartford YMCA as the Executive Director and Regional Aquatics Director, along with roles in youth and family programing, day camp and providing services to the community. He has spent most of his long career focused on program development, fundraising, community partnerships and collaborations.
As General Manager, Kerrigan oversees a staff of 60, with two managers (aquatics and membership) two full-time aquatics supervisor roles and a series of part-time positions such as lifeguards and instructors. His day-to-day work involves supporting the managers and providing vision and guidance. “Big picture, I try to map out where we want to be at the end of the year and provide strategies for getting us there. But I’m also involved in the operations. Yesterday, I was plunging a locker room sink. My role really includes anything and everything.”
Making an impact both inside and beyond the Center’s walls
Kerrigan is cognizant of the impact he and his staff’s work is having both within and outside the walls of the Cornerstone Aquatics Center. Inside the walls, he’s focused on keeping his staff engaged, overseeing everything from swimming lessons, occasional baptisms and birthday parties and free family nights for members of the community. On any given day, Kerrigan will find himself out on the pool deck talking to staff, answering questions and supporting members.
Kerrigan is pleased to report that within the first year of HealthFitness managing the Center, he and his staff have served thousands of families in the community.
“Swimming is a life skill, and it gratifies me knowing that we’ve been able to help so many people in our community gain this skill,” Kerrigan explains, adding that in the past year his staff have certified over 100 lifeguards—a needed role in many communities.
Beyond the Center’s walls, a big part of Kerrigan’s role involves outreach to what he views as his client—the town of West Hartford. He works very closely with the town’s management to ensure they are satisfied and happy with the direction the Center’s programs are going and works in close collaboration with the town’s Director of Leisure services—part of its Parks and Recreation department that oversees the Cornerstone Aquatics Center.
Kerrigan and his staff regularly participate in community events, such as this past summer’s “Celebrate West Hartford” gathering. He also speaks regularly with his HealthFitness supervisors, some of whom are physically located a thousand miles away. “I view my position as a mix of establishing and maintaining multiple relationships,” he says. “A good day is one when relationships are in a positive place, our facility is bustling with activities, and the staff are engaged.”
A partnership with Technogym refreshes the gym and enhances Center programming
With the majority of its members coming in for aquatics—swimming laps and swimming lessons, Kerrigan sought ways to provide more programming while enhancing the Cornerstone Aquatics Center. He viewed the Center’s 1,200-square-foot gym as an opportunity, yet the existing equipment was 15-20 year’s old and outdated. So he and his HealthFitness colleagues partnered with Technogym, one of the world’s largest fitness equipment manufacturers, to significantly refresh the gym and in turn enhance the programming the Center can offer moving forward. “Technogym and HealthFitness share a similar vision for healthy living and community engagement. It’s one of the things that brought us together,” Kerrigan says.
The Cornerstone Aquatics center recently had nearly 30 pieces of Technogym equipment installed, including 13 Spin bikes, two rowers, three elliptical machines, three treadmills and a variety of strength pieces. Kerrigan and his staff can now offer Spin classes, functional training classes and sports performance training for high schools whose swim teams were already using the Center’s pool for its practices. “This is a huge opportunity for us to have an impact and establish a footprint in the community as well as potentially grow revenue,” he says.
“The Technogym rep really provided a unique perspective when he discussed the scenario of a new member potentially joining because of the gym and then saying, ‘Wow, you also have a pool here,’ whereas people were coming in mostly for aquatics,” he continues.
Making life better for whoever comes in the door
Kerrigan regularly makes time for his wife and three sons aged 10, 13 and 17, despite working long hours and occasional weekends. He stays active by visiting parks with his family, going on hikes or runs and helping his oldest son on a college search which currently is centered on New England schools offering lacrosse.
Kerrigan is inspired by leading a team to accomplish whatever goals he’s helped put in place and providing support wherever needed. “I want to make life a little better for whoever comes in the door, whether it’s a member of the community or member of our staff,” he says.
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