Faces of FOSS: Steve Ott

Steve Ott
Site Director
Sun Prairie, WI

How long have you worked for FOSS?

I’ve been at FOSS for 4 amazing years!

What is your favorite part about working for FOSS?

The students—no matter what life is throwing at you personally, the students are here to have fun and learn to love water. It’s the genuine, authentic, and heartfelt interactions with the students that I value the most. It could be as simple as a baby class and watching them learn to walk and progress in front of your eyes, or it could be a knock-knock joke that an older kid is saying for the twentieth time, but they crack up and that makes you laugh. Every day that I walk into the building, I walk out happier and with a better outlook on my day!

Can you tell us your favorite FOSS Story?

We were having a manager meeting when someone brought up that one of our students fell into the Chicago River. The student was on a field trip and slipped and fell fully clothed into river. Thankfully, the student was alright and swam himself up. The student then went to his mom to tell her how happy he was that he went to FOSS and had learned what to do in case that happened. When I heard the student’s name, I realized that I had taught this student. That’s when it all hit me, sitting in the water just thinking about what had happened. I was given the tools and information to teach, I followed what I was taught and passed it on and it saved a person. That’s the moment that I had realized that what I was doing really matters.

Can you recount a student of yours who experienced a major breakthrough moment? What was it?

I had a student for three or four sessions in a row and they just couldn’t get the tiger paddle with a flip down. One day the student came in and told me how much she LOVED mac and cheese, so I asked her how she would feel if her parents just forgot how to make it. She said it would make her really sad. I told her if you do something once, you can do it twice. That class we tried that particular move with a power pack on, and she did it. I told if she did it with it on, she can do it with the pack off. We took it off…she tiger paddles…goes for the flip, knocks it out of the park! She came up happy as can be. Mom and dad came over and told her they would make the mac and cheese that she loved so much and backed me up by saying that since she did it once she can do it again. She now swims in the Big 4 and has accomplished those goals and is progressing to the Big 5!

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