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Home court advantage: New La Jolla Rec Center director heads back to his starting line

Nicholas Volpe, the new director of the La Jolla Recreation Center, started working in recreation in La Jolla as a teenager.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Nicholas Volpe has returned to his recreational roots in La Jolla, taking on the role of Recreation Center director this month.

He said he looks forward to putting into play the skills he’s curated during years of working at similar venues.

Volpe took the Rec Center reins Nov. 1, the week after former director Jesse DeLille moved on. Volpe, who lives in the Del Cerro neighborhood with his 4-year-old son, previously operated a sports and aquatics facility for the Navy in San Diego, starting in 2012.

In 2016, he took on a concurrent part-time job as a recreation leader at the Pacific Beach Recreation Center for the San Diego Parks & Recreation Department.

Volpe, who holds a bachelor’s degree in recreation systems management from San Diego State University, began working in recreation as a teenager in La Jolla, where he grew up.

After years of planning and months of community review, plans to vacate part of Cuvier Street to help make way for a La Jolla Recreation Center renovation got the La Jolla Community Planning Association’s approval during its Nov. 4 meeting online.

Rosalia Castruita, area manager for the Parks & Recreation Department, said Volpe’s “experience will be very beneficial to our department.”

Volpe answered questions from the La Jolla Light about his experience and what draws him to recreation management.

Q. What did you like about working for the Navy?

A. “I got to work with the sailors, active duty [and] retirees and their families and help support the mission. [I] worked with wounded warriors, wheelchair basketball teams. That was the exciting part.”

Q. You were able to work with adaptive-sports athletes as well. Why was that work important to you?

A. “It’s bringing together people with all different walks of life. People that may have different disabilities can be incorporated into something such as softball or different activities.”

Q. What did you enjoy about your work at the Pacific Beach Rec Center?

A. “I got to work with kids. I started at the La Jolla YMCA as a 14-year-old kid playing in their sports leagues, and then went to working for [the YMCA] for many years … throughout high school and then [during and after] college.

“I always enjoy doing sports and hanging out with kids and watching them grow and watching them develop.”

Q. What drew you to this job in La Jolla?

A. “I grew up … in La Jolla. I went to Stella Maris Academy right up the street. I grew up coming to this rec center. I used to coach travel ball here in San Diego for many years; we’d use these basketball hoops. So growing up here and being able to come down here and utilize this facility myself, that’s what really brought me back.”

Q. What skills have you learned or developed that will transfer here as Rec Center director?

A. “Just communicating with people; everybody has their own thought process on how things should be done. And being able to come to a common medium and work together to get a greater goal done.”

Q. What are your goals as La Jolla’s Rec Center director?

A. “My goals are to bring a lot of kids to the center. I’ll have a lot of activities for families and friends. [I’ll] make sure everybody knows that they’re welcome [and] try and update some of the stuff we have around here.

“I’ll see where we can go.”

Q. What are you most excited about?

A. “The opportunity to work with Rosalia and the city of San Diego and being able to work with our community.”

The La Jolla Recreation Center is at 615 Prospect St. For more information, visit bit.ly/myreccenter or call (858) 552-1658. ◆