HURON — There was more than the average amount of hugging going on at the Nordby Center for Recreation last Wednesday.
It’s wasn’t some new workout, but instead was farewell and bon voyage for a familiar face. Jordan Buddenhagen, who had been at the exercise facility on the longest two-month temp job, was leaving.
But, according to Nordby Center executive director Shelly Buddenhagen, Jordan’s mom and boss, his exit means that another Heartland-area athlete will be returning to Huron.
“That is what is interesting about this,” Shelly said. “Jordan came to work here to help us out because he knew Huron and the Nordby Center and knew he could be happy here. Joey brings the same thing and we are excited to have him join the staff.”
Joey is Joey Mitchell. Mitchell excelled on the hardwood for Hitchcock-Tulare High School, helping the Patriots to a runner-up finish in 2010. He took his game to Black Hills State, but transferred to Dakota Wesleyan in 2014.
“I just had kinda lost my passion to play the game,” Mitchell said of his decision to move back across the Missouri River. “I was talking with a couple of friends who were at DWU and they just kept after me until I decided to transfer.”
Moving to Mitchell also cut the travel time from school to his parent’s home at Tulare considerably. After earning his degree in Human Services, Mitchell began working at the Aurora Plains Academy in Plankinton, as a case manager.
“I am really looking forward to getting started at the Nordby Center,” Mitchell said. “Human Services means that you are working with people, which is what I really enjoy. I am looking forward to working with clients on their exercise plans, but also learning about some of the other things that go with the job.”
Things like ....?
“The pool,” Jordan said. “That was the thing that I was not really prepared to take on. There are a lot of forms and other things that go with it. It was a learning curve for me.”
“Jordan has been working with me on some of the stuff,” Mitchell said. “I have the benefit of being a farm kid, so I kinda know how to fix things, although some of the exercise equipment is a new beast.”
Jordan did come to work at the Nordby Center after he earned his degree from Southwest Minnesota State, in Exercise Science.
“I was working a couple of part-time jobs and was kinda looking for jobs in the Twin Cities when the call came,” he said.
‘The Call’ was from the executive director at the Nordby Center.
“I asked if he was interested in helping us out for a couple months,” Shelly said. “We had lost a person, and I wanted to know if he could fill in until we found someone.” Being familiar with the Nordby Center, and with the chance to have a more full-time position led him to jump at the chance.
That was in 2014.
“The job has been open since he started, really,” Shelly said. “We had one person hired, but it just didn’t work out for them. Finally, the board just said ‘Why don’t you just hire him?’ So we kinda did.”
But the need to find a replacement got ramped up when Jordan made plans to move to Belle Plaine, Minn., where his girlfriend is from, ahead of a wedding later this summer.
“I will be working as an instructor in a corporate health facility,” he said. “It fits my degree, and I will be able to give some time back to my finance.”
“Did you know that Joey played ball here when he was younger?” Shelly asked. “He did. That is what is so great. Two young guys, with their entire future in front of them, chose to come back to Huron and work. I think that says a lot about them and about our community.”
For Mitchell, he will be able to work in a facility where he is familiar, doing what he enjoys doing. “I like being active, working out and such,” he said. “And I look forward to the other things that I will be doing as well.”
“Jordan was a great bridge to the customers,” Shelly said. “When he was here, he was an employee, but he really connected with the other staff and our customers.”
For Jordan, amidst hugs from a collection of regulars, he is ready to step out and see what lies ahead. “It’s always healthy to have a set of fresh eyes on things, to have a person with different strengths and view points.”