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Jessica Rockhills transition into the JBLM aquatic director position has been a smooth one. The former aquatics director at Fort Bragg, N.C., already has the military smarts as well as the pool smarts.
When I went to Fort Bragg I didnt know any of the Army policies and procedures and that was the hardest thing for me, she said. Coming from Fort Bragg to here is going from one set of pools to another set of pools.
Rockhill takes over the position after Bill Miller retired to Hawaii last July after 30 years in JBLM aquatics. Rockhill and her family made the cross-country drive to JBLM in October and have settled in Lacey.
The new director brings a wealth of knowledge about pool programs and fun ideas to implement at JBLMs three indoor pools, one outdoor pool and Shoreline Beach.
Originally from Ohio, Rockhill became involved at an early age as a swim instructor at a community pool. During her teenage years she was a lifeguard and also taught lessons on her own. She was also a lifeguard while attending school at Kent State University where she studied leisure studies and sport management.
Rockhill completed an internship with the Navy in Naples, Italy to work in the aquatics branch, where she was familiarized with Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. She went on to be aquatics and sports branch managers at a variety of pools from Ohio to Tennessee before accepting the position at Fort Bragg in 2010. After two years Rockhill applied for the vacant position at JBLM for an opportunity to see a different installation and become well-rounded.
I have such a positive outlook on how the aquatics branch is going to move forward, Rockhill said. I see great things for the future. I know with the amazing team I have were going to make this aquatics branch the best in the Army.
When Rockhill first arrived the first order of business was to look at the swim lessons program. The popular program often has a wait list and people are not able to participate. Her focus started in adding more classes and then re-opening Kimbro Pool at McVeigh Fitness Center in early December.
Rockhill has plans to introduce new events to JBLM like an aquatic Easter egg hunt, pool parties and dive-in movies all events she introduced to Fort Bragg.
An aquatic Easter egg hunt involves diving for eggs on the bottom of the pool or retrieving the eggs floating on top of the water. Special prizes are awarded and everyone gets a goodie bag. Children also pose for photos with the Easter Bunny in their swim suits.
Dive-in movies is something Rockhill hopes she can implement at McChords outdoor pool in the summer. Swimmers are able to watch a movie on a giant outdoor screen while floating on an inflatable or watching from the pool deck. Rockhill would like to do a Christmas in July theme if possible.
Theres so many fun things you can do at a pool, Rockhill said.
Rockhill is also looking to hire more lifeguards as the spring and summer seasons approach.