Oasis manager who went from ‘pool rat’ to ‘queen of the water park’ recalls past life at Grand Island pool | Nebraska News

JESSICA VOTIPKA Grand Island Independent

GRAND ISLAND — Island Oasis manager Diane Miller, a self-proclaimed “pool rat,” says she grew up in a swimming pool.

After 40 years at Grand Island Parks & Recreation, the “queen of water parks”, as her colleagues call her, is about to hang up her crown.

In a recent interview, Miller recalled his childhood. “We could cycle or walk to the pool, or our parents would drop us off,” she said. “I was a ‘pool rat’ – that’s what they call them. I love swimming; I love water.”

Eventually, Miller became a junior lifeguard, senior lifeguard, and eventually a water safety instructor.

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Miller started working for Grand Island Parks & Rec as a lifeguard in 1983.

A few years later Steve Paustian, then manager of Grand Island Parks & Rec, threw a few tickets to Florida on a desk in front of Miller, who had been hired to be the new pool manager.

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Diane Miller, facilities manager at Island Oasis, gives instructions to Kaden Roberson, lifeguard at Grand Island Water Park. “They call me mom.” she says proudly of her staff, which is made up mostly of local high school students. “But it’s not about managing the swimming pool. It’s about our relationships with people.

JOSH SALMON, Grand Island Independent

“Why me?” Miller asked Paustian.

“You’re the girl for the job,” Miller said, he told her. “I like your interpersonal skills. »

Paustian wanted Miller to accompany him to Florida to consider ideas for a water park on Grand Island.

At the time, Miller was still teaching in public schools on Grand Island.

“He had already agreed (the trip) with the principal of my school to go to Florida,” she said. “It was during the school year. We went down to Cape Coral to see their water park; they also had a community-funded water park.

They took pictures in Cape Coral of everything – pool features, signage, “then we put our heads together.”

“I thought, well, I guess I’ll do it,” Miller said.

It was the start of 30 eventful years in the water.

“It was blind people leading blind people,” she said. ” We did not know. We thought we had gone to Cape Coral for a tutorial…”

Nothing could prepare Miller and his Grand Island Parks & Rec family for resounding success. She recalls that Island Oasis had reached its capacity of 2,000 people each day the week it opened in 1993.

Miller never forgot the details of the water park, she says.

“Oasis is my baby. I’m very picky – how it’s cleaned and what we do there.

It also has high standards for its staff, with the majority being local high school students.

“I had great kids, great people to work with. I don’t do this alone. I had good people.

Grand Island Island Oasis

Diane Miller, facilities manager at Island Oasis on Grand Island, wears many different hats at work, including working in the concession stand.

JOSH SALMON, Grand Island Independent

For a while there was a rumor that only teachers’ children could get jobs at Island Oasis. That’s not entirely untrue, Miller said shamelessly.

“A lot of them, I handpicked. I knew they were good kids. They were going to work for me and they were going to show up every day.

Miller said her staff teased her that she apparently knew everyone. She said it’s important to make a connection with the guests.

“Oh, you heard about our beautiful beach? Miller told the foreign guests.

“I tried to have a conversation with everyone who comes in, and when they leave I say thank you for coming.”

Besides alien swimmers and generations of Island Oasis pool rats, Miller also knows a few mermaids.

“There are three or four ladies who come in and we call them ‘Vintage Mermaids.’ They come every day of the week if the weather’s good. They’re just delicious women.

Miller looks forward to seeing improvements at Island Oasis, but she won’t be there as manager. She said she had health issues and lacked the stamina to do the job she used to do.

After some time off, however, she said she would return to splashing around, but this time not as a water park queen.

She was invited to swim among the Vintage Mermaids.

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