A positive experience as a volunteer can provide the spark for a whole new career.
Josh Smith, Bedford’s new Director of Recreation, began coaching in 2017 when his young daughters took an interest in basketball. He ended up starting the Arlington Basketball Club, a skills-and-drills program for children from kindergarten through eighth grade in their home town.
“I discovered I liked working with kids, parents, the community,” he said. “I have two girls and a boy who all play a lot of sports in many recreation programs in our town. So I’m in the same shoes as many parents are.”
He started looking for opportunities like the Bedford position. “I was attracted to this role since it matched my professional background with my personal passion for community-based service,” he said.
Last month he was appointed Director of Recreation by Town Manager Sarah Stanton, succeeding Amy Hamilton, who retired on May 31. “It seemed like a natural fit and thus far it’s exactly what I was looking for,” the new director declared.
“This is a vibrant community – people are very active,” Smith, 44, said in an interview this week. “I’m trying to stay on the move — there are people everywhere.”
He has been meeting kids and parents during drop-offs and pickups at Summer Adventures, as well as the folks who swim and relax at Springs Brook Park. He said that he is also trying to meet as many town employees as he can. Smith’s first meeting with the Recreation Commission was in person Wednesday night.
Recreation programs and activities are “very important for a community,” Smith reflected. “They bring the community together in any situation, for all residents of all backgrounds.”
Smith went to Dartmouth High School in southeastern Massachusetts, playing football and baseball; then enrolled at Northeastern University for a concentration in exercise physiology. “I have a love of sports, and I wanted to make a career out of athletics, fitness, and recreation,” he said.
One of his college cooperative study destinations was the Cambridge Athletic Club, and that began a long and fruitful relationship.
The club hired him right after graduation in 2001 as director of health and fitness and personal training. He also worked as a boot-camp instructor and launched a basketball league before he took over as general manager three years later.
Under his leadership, Cambridge Athletic Club expanded to four locations with more than 3,500 members, a mix of corporate workers centered and local residents. The basketball league grew to 150 teams and 1,000 participants. “There was a lot of programming, a lot of fitness and wellness classes,” he said.
“My career in recreation managing large health clubs and business operations has prepared me for this role,” said Smith, who also earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Babson College. “That experience, plus my passion for coaching youth sports, helped lead me to this role.”
Smith said “the transition is easier because of the staff that’s here. Everyone has been incredibly helpful. It’s a collaborative atmosphere.”
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at email@example.com, or 781-983-1763