East Side Dolphin Club celebrates 50 years
By Dirk Webb
Photo courtesy of Dale Pickett
Donald J. Volk, Board Member
East Side Dolphin Club, Inc.
3508 E. 8th Street
Anderson, IN 46012
In 1966, Anderson High School Teacher and Swim Coach, Bob Freeman, along with L.T. Withers, Marion Withers, and Dan Ferree decided that Anderson needed a competitive swimming facility that would also serve as a meeting place for local families. Originally intended for the 1500 block of 10th street in downtown Anderson, Faree completed a transaction for the 34 acres on Lindbergh Road where the club has resided since.
Nine lanes wide and 50 meters long, the main pool at the Dolphin Club was the first competitive facility in Central Indiana. Having a 12 foot diving well, the Dolphin Club also produced some of Indiana’s best divers including , Jim Alexander, former AHS State Champion swim coach.
Board member, Don Volk recalls, “Country club pools were small and not built for competition. 50 meter pools made competitors eligible for state cuts qualifying our local swimmers for advancement to further competition both for state and nationals.”
Freeman, however, wanted more than just a swimming pool and offered a local vacation style entertainment family center that, at its peak, built up to 500 families. For many years the club had an average of 40 families on the membership waiting list.
Ever a visionary, Freeman carried on the day-to-day operations using the “management by walking around method.” Said Volk, “Bob was a very kind man; easy to talk to.” With the 2002 passing of Freeman leadership passed to wife Marti (now Euneman) who managed the club for 10 years. Today, the Eastside Dolphin Club consists of 375 member families and is managed by Jay Ettle, a former diver who previously coached at Yorktown and Delta.
One of the common links at the Dolphin Club throughout its existence is Don and his wife, Sandy Volk. For most members, a quick glance to the east side of the pool will almost always reassure them that the Volks are in their poolside chairs unofficially welcoming one and all to enjoy the sun and fun.
Don Volk, a native of Utica, IL (population 1,000) is a product of LaSalle-Peru HS. Riding a bus to interview for a job at Guide Lamp in 1961, Don has served on the Dolphin Club board for 20 years with Sandy serving for 12 years before that. Says Volk, “I love the Dolphin Club. I go there every day to play tennis and enjoy the pool. We have noticed the recent change in school calendars has cut a month off the summer program. Weather in the past two years has been rough and caused folks to procrastinate regarding membership decisions but overall we still consider the Dolphin Club to be a wonderful jewel here in Anderson and Madison County.”
Would you consider Madison County to be in the midst of sunrise? What does the business sunrise across the horizon look like to you?
“Absolutely. Anderson is finally sprouting its wings since 2006. Since the housing recession and loss of GM, I see a bright future. The Dolphin Club is a strong quality of life attribute to our community and we need to promote it as so.”
What does "A New Day" mean to you?
”A turnaround. A rebirth of community awareness and all we have to offer. We’re turning this around and I love those kind of challenges. My goal was never to be in the same job for more than two years. I like to be a change agent and we continue to need change here. The Dolphin Club can and does play a vital role along with the arts, entertainment, healthy living, and quality of life that are so important to Madison County. We want to be a part of what Anderson has to offer.”
Helen Keller said, “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” How has your optimism helped you guide your company’s vision?
“Optimism is the positive leadership that is at the core of our community. Our community leadership has to have that. Economic Development is part of that core as well. When I took over at the Paramount, I was referred to as ‘The Paramount’s Full-time Cheerleader for Downtown Anderson.’ I’m a very positive person and I want to help reinfuse enthusiasm and excitement here in the community for every event kind of like Kyle Morey at the Chamber.”
Is your optimism ever threatened?
“I think for some people change is very difficult. I noticed it especially when we started cutting hours at the Club last summer. If we don’t like the change, we need to ask ourselves what can be done about it. I love to bring the critics to the table and ask them to help. I didn’t let the negative attitudes outweigh the positives. I make sure I stay positive.”
If optimism leads to achievement, what is it you hope the Dolphin Club will achieve in 2016?
”2016 is our chance to overcome negativity in the community and win back our former membership. Our enthusiasm has to be contagious. We have people who drive by us every day and still don’t realize we’re there, even after 50 years. Our goal is a 20% membership increase. We have to have a ‘can do’ attitude by pulling together with our members rather than letting the club gently dwindle down. This is a critical year for us to shine. We’d love to have corporate sponsorships that can help pay for individual family memberships. We’d like for our members to do more than just swim or sun bathe, we want our members to be our advocates and help us be there for another 50 years.”
If you were to have five minutes with someone who was considering relocating to Madison County what would you tell them?
“This is an easy one. Anderson and Madison County is the best bang for your buck. We have the best value in housing and entertainment. We have Hoosier Park, The Paramount, and The Anderson Center for the Arts. We have the Mainstage Theater too. Sandy and I have had a membership for over 50 years. That’s a lot of plays and concerts. We have Anderson University, Purdue Polytechnic and IVY Tech; such vibrant educational institutions. We have wonderful hiking trails and parks. If we do get the lake, the Dolphin Club would be right there at the edge of that. We have so much to offer for our people to do. We also have open hearted people willing to help others in need. Alternatives and the United Way immediately come to mind. You can watch things happen or make things happen. I prefer the latter.”
East Side Dolphin Club will celebrate their 50th anniversary at the 2016 Annual Awards Gala on February 25, 2016, sponsored in part by St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital. To view past award winners or to read more about the awards, visit MCC's Wall of Fame.