ZANESVILLE – Kathy Normansell is, to say the least, active.
She loves hiking, camping and weightlifting. She’s also an avid outdoor cyclist – who teaches indoor spin classes at the Zanesville Y and the New Concord Indoor Cycling Co-op. And she’s heavily invested in the sport and lifestyle studies program at Ohio University Zanesville.
“I practice what I preach, and I preach what I love!” she declared.
Interestingly, there was little hint of her current career while growing up in Princeton, Illinois – a small, rural town a couple hours west of Chicago.
“I had a great childhood.” she recalled. “I was totally uncoordinated as a kid. But while I was the last kid picked on teams, I still had fun.
“With both of my parents in education,” she added, “I always thought I would be a teacher. But I never would have imagined I would be teaching sport and recreation related classes.”
Normansell graduated from Princeton High School in 1977, earned a bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation from Illinois State University in 1981 and a master’s in sport and fitness physiology from Bowling Green State University in 1987.
“I started out with a major in special education,” she said. “Within the first year I realized I didn’t want to teach in the school system structure and changed my major to therapeutic recreation. My first job was at a health sports center for adults with a physical disability. My focus was ‘lifestyle enhancement’ – the recreation and leisure side of life. Most of the others at the center focused on fitness and sport, thus my interest in going back for a master’s in fitness.”
After completing her master’s degree and getting married, she moved to New Concord and was hired as the program director for the Cambridge YMCA.
“I love the Y.” she said. “It allowed me to focus on sports, fitness and general recreation with young children through older adults.”
When her son was born, she left the Y and worked part time as the sports information director for Muskingum College (now University). After two years, a friend told her about the wellness coordinator position at OUZ.
“This was right up my alley.” she said. “Four years later, I began teaching various classes at OUZ and transitioned to full-time faculty.”
She’s now a professor of instruction, and the program coordinator for the sport and lifestyle studies major.
“Aside from fitness, students learn about ethics, risk management, cultural perspectives and working with people with disabilities,” said Dr. Deborah Dodson, a recently retired professor in the biological sciences at OUZ.
“Plus,” Dodson added, “Kathy’s the most physically fit and active person I know. Her students appreciate that she ‘walks the walk.’”
“I love my job and my students.” Normansell responded. “I get to see them grow and mature.
“My work,” she concluded, “represents my personal philosophy of an active and healthy lifestyle. I promote active lifestyles to my students, and I live it myself. Has life been perfect? No. Has life been good? Yes.”
Ohio University Zanesville is located at 1425 Newark Rd. in Zanesville. For more information, call 740-453-0762 or log on www.ohio.edu.
About the series
Aces of Trades is a weekly series focusing on people and their jobs – whether they’re unusual jobs, fun jobs or people who take ordinary jobs and make them extraordinary. If you have a suggestion for a future profile, let us know at [email protected]