JCC Spotlight: Emmie Laspada


Emmie Laspada has made both the pool and the Mandell JCC her home. She joined the Mandell JCC Sharks Swim Team ten years ago, when she was 6 years old, and is now currently employed as a lifeguard at the JCC’s summer site, The Swim & Tennis Club. During those 10 years, Emmie has grown not only as a swimmer, but also as a person.


“I was a pretty shy kid, so it took guts just to walk onto the pool deck at that age. The JCC and Coach Dave welcomed me with open arms.” Emmie recalls of her first years. “I learned to be resilient every time I lost a close race.  I learned integrity from day one as I committed to the daily routine. I learned tenacity and determination through each race. As I grew through the Sharks, I had many successes but also many times I felt I had failed. Each time I experienced a setback, I picked myself up, cried a little to Dave, but dusted myself off and got back into the pool.”


Her experiences on the Sharks Swim Team set the tone for Emmie’s “GRIT” approach to life: guts, resiliency, integrity and tenacity. It’s an approach that she also credits her coach, JCC staff member and head of the Sharks, Dave Laudati, with helping to foster. “Dave inspired me to set goals, practice, practice, practice and set new goals.  The JCC as a whole encouraged my swimming friendships and helped me to grow as a teammate.” It’s this same grit and determination that ultimately directed Emmie to becoming a lifeguard. “When I turned 15, I gathered my guts again, gave up my April break with family in Philadelphia, and took the lifeguarding class. Talk about getting your grit tested! I learned how to perform many rescues and made some fun new friends.” And all that hard work has been paying off, with her coach taking notice. “I have watched Emmie grow from young a child to an amazing young woman,” said Dave Laudati. “Her confidence in herself has grown because of the amazing experiences she has had at the JCC. I have been so fortunate to watch her go through life’s milestones.  I could not be more proud of the young woman she has become.”

And while lifeguarding takes grit and training in the pool, it’s also been an incredibly valuable lesson in teamwork and preparing Emmie for future leadership roles. “Whether meeting new coworkers, learning new rules, practicing new skills, or talking to new members, I felt supported and loved through every risk taken and every new experience offered. As I enter my final few years on the team, I can look back with pride and say I've earned my GRIT.”

Through it all, the lessons learned both in and out of the pool have helped to shape Emmie into the strong, confident young woman she is today, and the JCC is proud to have her as an exemplary staff member and athlete.

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