February 2023 Spotlight Professional

DJ Mackie –  City of Pullman, WA

Describe the scope of your position in parks and recreation.

I am the Recreation Supervisor for Pullman Parks and Recreation and oversee all of the different sport programs and recreation facility rentals for the City of Pullman. Our department organizes a variety of different youth, middle school, and adult sport programs and manages reservations for our recreation center and various recreational field space. 

How long have you been with your present agency?

I just completed my first year with Pullman Parks and Recreation.

What did you do before your previous role? (Background experience and previous careers)

Before joining the Parks and Recreation team, I worked for Washington State University with University Recreation. I was the Coordinator for Competitive Sports and Youth Programs where I oversaw the collegiate intramural and club sport programs as well as the summer camp, Cougar Kids Camp. Between undergraduate, graduate, and full time positions I was part of that organization for 12 years. That role allowed me to also work as a Challenge Facilitator and CrossFit Coach on the side and get experience with research and data initiatives and student development. I also currently teach a Recreational Sport Programs class for WSU’s College of Education in their Sport Management program and work for WSU Athletics event management helping on game days for Cougar football, basketball, volleyball and baseball games. 

How have you participated in WRPA?

I utilize WRPA online resources and have been joining the WRPA Programmers, Facilities, and Athletic/Fitness network meetings. Those have been great to hear about what other cities do for programming and facilities as I continue to learn more about the municipal side of recreational sports. I also will be attending my first WRPA Conference this May. 

What inspires you about the parks and recreation field?

Parks and Recreation exists to improve the quality of people’s lives and build community. People come to our programs and facilities out of their choice of what to do with their leisure time which when you look at the numbers, it is inspiring how many people we are improving the lives for. I love that we have programs for all ages and we are constantly working on what more we can add to impact more people. Everyone I work with here at Pullman Parks and Recreation is in this job and field because they want to improve the lives of the people in our community which not only makes it a great place to come to work each day but also is inspiring seeing all that we do.  

What is one creative solution you and your team have applied to a professional challenge?

Finding temporary and seasonal staff has been a challenge, especially for youth sports officials when they are only working a couple hours a week. We have started to focus our attention on older siblings and HS students for some of our sport official openings. They generally are free on Saturday mornings and wake up earlier than the WSU students do, and often were already there watching a family member. Now they can earn some money on their Saturday mornings and get experience on the other side of the sport. All officiating associations are running into a shortage of officials so as we start getting the younger generation involved early into officiating, we may have some that want to stick with it. 

Considering what you’ve learned throughout your career, what advice would you share with someone starting out in the parks and recreation field?

Take advantage of your own career and go get a variety of experiences. Too often we are waiting for someone to come tap us on the shoulder and offer something to us instead of getting out and diversifying our experience. Facilitating challenge programs, coaching fitness programs, asking to help with assessment projects or sponsorship work were all opportunities for me to work outside of my job description and helped me develop more skills for my professional toolbox. In my variety of experiences, no one has ever told me “no” if I offer to help or want to learn a new skill, but the key was I had to initiate it, no one was going to design my experiences for me. 

What is one of your favorite moments as a parks and recreation professional?  What was your job title?

Our Lentil Festival 3v3 basketball tournament is one of the favorites from my first year as Recreation Supervisor. I love managing and delivering special events so to be able to provide a fun event as part of our National Lentil Festival to the youth of our community was enjoyable and already had my thinking about ways to expand for 2023. Growing up in Spokane I used to help with the set up of Hoopfest on Friday nights with my dad so I always had an affinity towards running 3v3 events.