New Macedonia parks and rec director passionate about his job

Jeff Saunders
Kent Weeklies
Jason Chadock, standing outside the Macedonia Family Recreation Center, started his new job as the city's parks and recreation director on Aug. 3.

MACEDONIA — Nearly two months into his new job as the city’s parks and recreation director, Jason Chadock compared that time to what periodically happens to the Cleveland Browns.

“Every time they get a new head coach coming in, you, know, you have some culture change, you have some things that go on, you have some advancements to your operations,” he said. “I liken it a lot to that. Because as Clevelanders, we know how that goes. We get to see it every year or two.”

Chadock started Aug. 3, the same time he started a second job as wide receiver football coach at Nordonia High School. City Council approved his appointment to replace former Parks and Recreation Director Angela Manley, who resigned in April after 14 years in the position. He will be paid $85,000 annually.

He has 16 years of recreation managerial experience and his most recent position was in Colorado, but he is a native of northeast Ohio.

“For me, coming in here, it was about pulling our team together and having some really good conversations about where we are and what we see for the future,” said Chadock.

A variety of experience

Chadock grew up in Parma and Brook Park and would go to the local recreation center, although it would not be until young adulthood that he would discover that as a career path. He had been in college for nearly three years, majoring in psychology, when he decided to take a break and find something else.

“I had decided I didn’t want to be in school long enough to get a doctorate degree and I felt I could only be successful in that line of work if I got my doctorate,” he said.

About a month later, he asked himself, “What do I have the most fun doing?” and realized he enjoyed immensely being at the local recreation center and had a long conversation with a friend, who was an assistant director there. That culminated with Chadock enrolling at Bowling Green State University, where he would earn a bachelor’s degree in recreation and tourism.

“It was an instant fit for me,” he said. “The second I got into the first class, I absolutely knew I made the right choice. It gave me the opportunity to put together sports, recreation, and bring the same experiences I got to have as a youth and now as an adult, bring those to a community.”

With a new passion for learning, he would go on to earn a master’s degree in recreation and sports management at Ohio University. He and his wife Sarah spent 18 months in Columbus before moving to Colorado, where from 2004 to 2013, he worked in a series of positions.

“Each of those positions I just continued to grow in the field,” he said. “I got advancements into higher positions, which was a neat opportunity. From there, I just had an interesting journey in that I was a part of teams opening six new recreation facilities and I was a part of teams renovating seven different recreation facilities. That was in multiple cities.”

And he served in several other roles until 2013, when he was hired as leisure services manager in Carrollton, Texas, a city near Dallas. During his three years there, he oversaw two recreation centers, a senior center, a tennis center and a historic home museum.

Along the way, he and Sarah started a family, which now includes son Brenden, 13, and daughter Addyson, 11.

But the Texas climate was something of a strain.

“My wife had definitely made the comment once or twice, ‘Pretty hot here. What are your thoughts about moving back to Colorado?” said Chadock, adding that he also looked for a position in Ohio.

“It just so happened an opportunity became available in the city of Fort Collins [Colorado],” he said.

He was hired in February 2016 as recreation manager, overseeing operations at the community and fitness centers, managing an annual budget of $4.3 million with 10 full-time and more than 100 part-time employees. He served in that job until coming to Macedonia.

Chadock wants to ‘continuously improve’

Chadock said he was doing some research on COVID-19 online and became impressed at how Ohio was handling the pandemic. He then began checking into possible positions and “stumbled across the city of Macedonia parks and recreation position.”

He and Sarah talked about it for a bit and he had a pretty good idea of where Macedonia is, but he did some more research about the city.

“I got to learn it was a smaller community and that was a piece that was pretty important to us, being a part of a smaller community,” said Chadock. “If I was going to become a park director, I want to be able to develop those relationships to the community and the people I get to work with.”

He said an added bonus is that for the first time in their lives, his children would be able to live close to extended family.

Chadock said one of the things he and staff are doing is looking at “inheritance.”

“What did we inherit from our past and we inherited some wonderful facilities, we have some beautiful parks and we have a ton of opportunity to continuously improve here, whether that is advancing our programs, improving our operations or whether that is our continued learning as a staff and how we can better serve a community,” said Chadock.

He said he has been busy getting to know the staff, other city officials and talking with Rec Center users. He said the culture among staff at the Rec Center is important.

“Culture is how we’re going to develop trust and empowerment in our organization. The key for us is to develop relationships,” said Chadock.

Chadock said an area that needs to be addressed, especially now, is operating during the pandemic.

“We’re very focused on how we build programming and how do we make improvements to existing programing to fit the COVID environment,” he said. “In some cases, that means reducing the number of people allowed to participate in a program and in some classes we have to change the space that we use. For instance, in fitness classes we’ve been going outside for fitness. Now we’re going to have to come back inside when the weather changes and the staff has been working really hard to create that sustainable environment when dealing with COVID and that’s been a huge topic for us.”

There are also some immediate projects. One is current testing of the Rec Center’s leaking hot tub to determine how bad the issue is and how best to repair it. There are also plans to install new flooring on the Rec Center’s second floor and to develop a new Rec Center logo.

“We’re looking at redesigning a little bit and creating a logo that really reflects our values and vision,” said Chadock.

Chadock said he is pleased with his new position, the community that he will soon be living in and the department he is now heading.

“I’m very passionate about sports and recreation and it’s important to me to bring that passion to the community,” said Chadock. “I love what I get to do and I’m very excited to be here in the city of Macedonia.

Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at jsaunders@recordpub.com or @JeffSaunders_RP.