Alumni Spotlight – Steve Gadziala

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Some camp legends begin as campers and move up through the ranks. Others begin as staff members and make their mark in a relatively short period of time. The key is a “good fit” with the camp culture.

Steve Gadziala is the latter type of legend. Beginning as a cabin counselor in Cabin 9 in 1979, his interests and abilities blended perfectly with Forest Lake, and in 1980 he was asked to serve as the head counselor for the intermediates which included overseeing staff and campers in that section but also planning the special events calendar. Steve held that position for the next three seasons. His experience as a three sport varsity athlete in high school (football, basketball, baseball) fit in well with the FLC sports program and his musical talent (guitar) made him a regular contributor at campfires.

Steve grew up in Clinton, NY and attended St. Bonaventure University. After receiving his BA, Steve received his MA from Ohio University. From there he did post graduate work at both Harvard University and Babson College. Steve began his career working for Dunkin Donuts and that stint continued for 24 years. For the first fifteen years, he was a corporate employee in various divisions including retail operations, training, franchise operations, and retail operating systems. His most lasting contribution to the brand was the development of the retail operating system that is still in use today. The last nine years were as a franchisee in Massachusetts and Vermont. Steve has also published articles in professional journals and has delivered presentations to MBA classes at Babson and Bentley Colleges.

Following his years with Dunkin Donuts, Steve did small business consulting in the training and financial areas. More recently, he started his own sports memorabilia business which involves buying, selling, trading, and consigning baseball card and “game used” equipment. Among Steve’s most prized items are a 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card, a basketball jersey worn by Julius “Dr. J” Erving, a hockey jersey worn by Rod Gilbert, a baseball cap worn by Willie Mays, and a Sandy Koufax world series game jersey. In keeping with Steve’s background and interest in sports, he has found time to coach AAU baseball and many of his former players have gone on to play at the college level and one player made it to the minor leagues.

When asked about his fondest FLC memories, Steve’s list was lengthy so an abbreviated list is in order – Meeting Murph and Jack Fass on his first day, the ADK Bigfoot attack on Cabin 9, Phil’s laughter at Steve’s rendition of “The Bum” at campfire, witnessing the ghost on the ballfield, Murph’s “Simon Says”, Runco’s “Shiek”, Cullen’s “Beeping Sleauty”, Coach Pariseau’s “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain”, playing guitar with Fred Shepard, and some super campers – Will DeBello, Giles Lyon, Neil Rudnick, and Marcel Imery.

Steve has stayed in touch with a number of alum including – John Riddell, Jim Griffel, Fred Shepard, Geoff Neu, Gary Confer, Geoff Blanck and he has run into Jack Fass at a few sports memorabilia trade shows. Currently, Steve resides in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

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