Editors Note: Christopher Waters is a 1991 graduate now working as a diving coach at Tulane University in New Orleans. Just after arriving in New Orleans, he faced the wrath of Hurricane Katrina. He recently sent several pictures of the devastation that still exists there, photos he took while taking a walk in the 9th Ward area, where residents still have not returned.
In many ways, Castleton was a safe haven for me. I had come to Castleton as a transfer from St. Lawrence University having just gone through what I felt was a terrible freshman year of school.
My freshman classes didn’t really challenge me and the kids I met were – in my very naive opinion – superficial and for lack of a better word snobby. I just never felt like I fit in very well. So I decided to try Castleton. I knew of some people from my area who had attended Castleton and really enjoyed their time there so I thought, why not?
I applied for admission, was accepted and transferred in during the fall of 1988. From the moment I arrived on campus for my orientation, I knew I’d made the right decision. It was really just one of those gut feelings you get. I just knew I’d done the right thing.
For starters, I think I met more people in my first couple days at Castleton than I’d met during my entire freshman year at St. Lawrence. These turned out to be people who I’d become good friends with over the next couple years as well. To say it was a nice change of pace would be a huge understatement. It was awesome!
In addition, I’d finally stumbled upon a major that really intrigued me (Criminal Justice and Psychology) and was fortunate enough to have some professors who really challenged me. My advisor, Professor Bradley Hunt, was particularly helpful and in many ways served as a mentor to me. The whole idea of looking at something from different points of view and being open to questions was probably one of the best lessons I learned from my time at Castleton. It is definitely one that has come in very handy during my career as a coach.
I’ve now been coaching diving for roughly 12 years and have worked at both large state universities and small private colleges. The variety of people and backgrounds with whom I’ve worked has been vast. My ability to adapt has come in large part because of my experiences at Castleton.
Lately, adapting to new situations has become very much a necessity having moved to New Orleans within weeks of Hurricane Katrina making landfall. In the interim, I’ve been through an evacuation, dealt with my father’s suffering of a heart attack, a temporary relocation to Texas A&M, and subsequently a return to New Orleans. It has been quite an experience.
Even since we returned, things have been in flux. From the pictures I’ve sent it is easily apparent that there is still much work to be done in the rebuilding of this great city. Likewise, our campus is still being restored. For example, I trained my team in preparation for our conference meet without access to a pool and diving facilities. Instead, we trained solely on dry land and on a trampoline. It was challenging to say the least, but the situation forced me to be both creative in designing the workouts and positive in my delivery.
I truly believe this was a bonding experience though and my hope is that it will be beneficial to the team as they continue on in their college careers and life. I know it has beneficial to me and I look forward to what lies ahead as I search for my next coaching position.
Life isn’t always easy and so I prefer to look at it as an adventure, and adventures can be thrilling, even downright fun!