More unique than a lanyard and more captivating than a beer cozie, students can try something new at Gobblerfest: scuba diving.
Hoping others will be able to discover the same enthusiasm they feel, the members of Scuba Club at Virginia Tech are bringing diving to the public right on the Drillfield.
Tonight at Gobblerfest, anyone who is interested will have the chance to test out the waters in an approximately 20-foot wide and four-foot deep, manmade pool in the middle of campus. Sanders said the club is working with the help of Nigel Harris, the assistant director of aquatics and instructional programs for Recreational Sports.
Scott Sanders, an industry adviser and club alumnus, still works with the club today with a major passion for scuba diving. While he was in the MBA program at Tech, Sanders also started Avalon Dive Center with Tech student, David Whitehurst.
“We invest so much time into this to change people’s lives with that first breath underwater,” Sanders said. “People can see it on TV, but until you put that regulator on and that mask on, and are completely weightless in the water just like a fish ... you can’t imagine.”
Sanders said Harris will be the certified pool operator to verify that it is safe, by overseeing the chemicals and monitoring the stability of the pool. In total, 20 people are volunteering for this event to keep things running smoothly.
Four people will be available at the front of the setup talking to individuals who are interested in signing up for classes or newsletters. In addition, volunteers will run the classroom and registration portion while others will be in charge of setting up the equipment.
After going through a classroom setup, signing medical paperwork and having a quick briefing, students can get the equipment for their diving experience. Trying this diving experience will be free of charge and bathing suits will be available for those who aren’t dressed for the occasion. Sanders said this experience typically costs $175 when the club goes to the Florida Keys.
Six participants will be able to be in the pool at one time, accompanied by one or two instructors. Each student’s dive experience will last approximately 15 to 20 minutes, and the in-water experience is planned to stop around 8 p.m.
Leah Potts, a sophomore at Tech and a Scuba Club member who recently became a divemaster, will also be present at the event to help out her fellow divers. Initially discovering diving as a junior in high school, Potts joined the club spring break of last year. After being at a low point for some time, Sanders said that they were able to revitalize everything once Potts came on board.
“It’s nice to see people doing something you love,” Potts said.
According to Potts, once others discover scuba and decide that they want to be certified, they can submit a deposit of $100 on site and will receive their books to study before attending their first class. Sanders said five classes are scheduled with a maximum of ten people per class.
Once in the club, members will meet every two weeks and have a dinner together each semester. They can also participate in an underwater photo competition and will have the opportunity to go on trips to the Florida Keys and the Bahamas. They’ll experience the perks of diving by discovering different wrecks and reefs.
“There’s so much diversity underwater that people don’t see until they get down there,” Sanders said. “ Our motivation in leading the club and as dive professionals is to take somebody and lead them through that process of being confident and comfortable underwater. You literally change people’s lives.”