Leisure director drawn to Houston for “amazing recreation centre”

Houston’s new Leisure Services directed recreation centres in Smithers and Australia and looks forward to using his expertise here.

Ryan Coltura

Ryan Coltura

Houston’s new Leisure Services director is a lifeguard junkie, he says, and is looking forward to using his expertise to help the Houston facility achieve excellence.

“I’m a self-professed lifeguard geek,” said Ryan Coltura, Houston Leisure Facility director as of last Wednesday, adding that he’s been lifeguarding since he was 16, is now an instructor and has competed nationally and won three B.C. -Yukon championships.

Coltura grew up in Langley, took courses and became a lifeguard when he was 16, and has been lifeguarding ever since, he said.

After high school he used lifeguarding to work his way through the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, where he got a Bachelors of Kinesiology and learned about the health and community benefits of recreation which piqued his professional interest in the field, he said.

“I’ve always loved recreation, always been involved in different recreation programs,” he said, adding that even when he was 16 the recreation field seemed like a great one to get into.

Coltura says he has done lifeguarding in eight or nine different pools including in Langley, the Langley township and Prince George and slowly he progressed to supervisor positions until he finally got a chance to manage at the B.V. Regional Pool and Recreation Centre in Smithers in the beginning of 2008.

“Of course, every lifeguard’s dream is to one day manage their own pool,” said Coltura, so he seized the opportunity and managed the recreation centre in Smithers for three years.

While in Smithers, Coltura also met and married his wife Amelia Mattson, who is on her way to join him here with a baby due in July, Coltura said with a smile.

After finishing in Smithers at the end of 2010, Coltura and his wife took a 16 month working holiday, where they travelled to southeast Asia, New Zealand and to Australia where Coltura managed a pool for three months in Alice Springs, Aug. to Oct. 2010.

After their travels, Coltura and wife went to Langley where his family lives, but were not there long before the Houston opportunity opened up and they were drawn back to the Bulkley Valley, he said.

“We wanted to get out of the chaos down there and back to a smaller community,” he said, adding that they really enjoyed the Bulkley Valley when they were in Smithers, and Houston seemed like a really good fit, both for his career and for their family.

Coltura taught some lifeguarding courses in Houston back when he was director at the Smithers pool, and he says one of the big draws for him was the “amazing recreation centre” that’s here.

The northern B.C. climate also fits well with Coltura’s hobbies, which include skiing, snowshoeing and hiking, as well as recreational hockey, other sports and photography, he said.

Coltura says he is excited to be here and looking forward to seeing the direction the Houston Leisure Facility will take.

“The direction is sort of wide open and I’m hoping that it will be things that will get people active and into the centres,” said Coltura, adding that he plans to get community feedback and ideas over the next while and let the community direct the direction of the Leisure Facility.

“I’m wanting to help the community in getting the recreation programs that they want and things that are going to be successful,” he said.

Curtis McPhee, director of Houston Leisure Facility for just over a year and a half, says he feels extremely confident leaving his position to Coltura.

“I’m confident that they could not have found a stronger candidate and a better choice to run and operate the pool at the district of Houston,” said McPhee.

“I leave with utter confidence in his ability and with the belief that he will only make this place better for the District of Houston,” he added.