From the suburbs of Minneapolis he ventured to Missoula nine years ago, unaware of how much the move would impact his life.
At first the goal was a degree from the University of Montana. Upon earning one he took a job with the Missoula Parks and Recreation Department and he’s been there for six years.
It’s hard to measure the influence Ryan Yearous has made on the local sports and recreation community.
He teaches figure skating and power skating in the winter. He’s made an even greater impact in his first six months as sports and wellness recreation specialist for Missoula Parks and Recreation. In that role he oversees everything from adult and youth leagues to kids’ day camps, teen programs and 5k races.
Yearous, 27, talked with the Missoulian recently about his position:
Q. When did you realize this was your calling?
A. I’ve always been into recreation and sports. I played a bunch of different sports growing up. When I came out here – my degree is in public administration and public service – I would say in college I really decided I wanted to work with an organization that was promoting community building and healthy activities. Recreation just fits that perfectly.
Q. How much of a transition has there been in your present post?
A. It’s been pretty smooth. I had helped my boss (and predecessor) Scott Stires for a number of years in various capacities and he was an excellent mentor, teaching me a lot about the inner workings of sport leagues and recreation programs. Of course there’s always things to learn when you’re new on the job. I’m still learning a lot.
Q. What is the most gratifying part of your job?
A. You put so much effort into the marketing, registration, holding meetings, hiring officials and staff. I think the most gratifying part is finally seeing the programs start and seeing people out there being active. Seeing the youth camps begin and the kids having a great time. Going out to the fields in the evenings and seeing people playing soccer and softball. Just knowing you’re doing good things for their health and community.
Q. What has been the toughest part of your job?
A. Time management, absolutely. Balancing the interests of different sports and activities and making sure we’re providing the highest quality service to all of those groups in an efficient manner and making sure I stay on task with the big picture.
Q. How have you put your personal touch on the job?
A. Probably one of my favorite parts has been trying to align the staff with the Parks and Recreation mission and vision and making sure that for all programs we share that common mission and vision. I feel good when I see staff doing things to make that happen.
Q. What do you see as some challenges moving forward?
A. There’s always a desire to offer more programs and improve your programs and increase our services. We have to do that all with the resources we’re given.
Q. What are some of your hobbies?
A. One of my biggest hobbies is ice sports. I love playing hockey. I grew up figure skating and continue coaching that today. I love biking in the summertime, walking trails – North Hills, (Mount) Jumbo, Sentinel ... jumping in rivers and lakes and getting some water time ...
Q. What are some programs you’re excited about moving forward?
A. We have a lot of youth summer camps where registration is still open. There are half- and full-day options. There is a basketball camp in July. We do camps such as water world beach camp, art camps, bowling camps, sports camps – you name it. There’s a whole slew of offerings. We still have our tennis programs for ages 5-17 and adult lessons in the evenings. There’s more sessions available. Then as far as adult sports we have fall programs coming up in August. We offer fall softball, fall 7-side outdoor soccer, volleyball league, flag football and fall-winter indoor soccer league when it gets colder. One of our biggest youth leagues in the fall is our Playmaker flag football.
Q. What are your goals for the future?
A. Our goal is to get as many people as possible into our parks system and parks programs. I’d like to see us grow our adult sports leagues more and offer as many youth programs as we can throughout the year.
Q. You’ve been in Missoula for a while. Which sports teams do you pull for?
A. I have to admit back in Minnesota I was more into the professional sports. But absolutely rooting for the Griz. I do like to check in and see how Minnesota teams are doing. But I keep most of my allegiance here.