The Amsbrys were introduced to the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center through their son Tom. When only eight years old, Tom discovered the sport of diving – watching countries compete during the 2008 Olympic Games. It wasn’t long after that Pat and Kate enrolled him in a diving class at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center. Well, Tom rarely missed a day in the pool and eleven years later, was recruited as an athlete by Amherst College in Massachusetts.
“My wife and I didn’t know anything about diving when Tom started, but we learned a lot about the sport and became very involved, as we wanted to support his enthusiasm for this activity,” Pat recalled.
Through his son’s involvement at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, Pat discovered the rich history of the center, a history as rich as the property it sits next to – the 100-year-old Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena. Pat ended up joining the Board of Directors before being elected Chair and his wife Kate would go on to serve for several years on the Dive Team Booster Board.
The modern-era Rose Bowl Aquatics Center will celebrate its 30th year in 2020, and when Pat and Kate produced the 25th anniversary celebration in 2015, they were given the latitude to create the theme. They chose “triumph over adversity” and invited 94-year-old diver Dr. Sammy Lee as one the guests of honor. A resident of Pasadena in the 1940s, Sammy Lee, who was a Japanese American, practiced at the old Brookside Plunge (since demolished, the plunge was located in the approximate location of the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center). In that era, Sammy Lee had to abide by the “plunge rules” at the time, which meant he could only use the pool one day at the end of the week.
“Only white people could swim the other six days,” Pat said. “At the end of the week, on International Day, people of color were allowed to use the pool.”
Sammy Lee was the first Asian American to win a Gold Medal for the United States in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics.
“He didn’t let those very unfair rules hold him back,” Pat continued. “Sammy was a warrior; he would practice his diving into a sand pit.”
Sammy Lee passed away in 2016.
“It was really important for us to find Sammy Lee and honor him at the same place where he was treated horribly so many years ago,” Pat said. “We wanted to treat him wonderfully and honor how he triumphed over adversity. Sammy was a true champion and hero.”
Pat and Kate have continued to work with the management, coaches, staff and board to advance the mission of the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, so that, as they say, more can have these “Gold Medal Moments.”
Today, these moments are reflected in the center’s programming for children and young adults with special needs. The center is also home to a warm water therapy pool that helps people of all ages recover after an injury.
“The Gold Medal Moments mean a lot of things,” Pat said. “It could be a young woman on our nationally ranked youth water polo team having the best game of her young career, or it could be a woman like Maureen Kornfield, a world champion swimmer who is 97 years old and drives from Hollywood to swim on our team.”
Kate and Pat are especially proud of the center’s Water Safety & Learn to Swim program for children. This program, in partnership with the Pasadena Unified School District, provides critical water safety training for every third-grade student at no cost.
“They are given professional swim lessons and we pay for chaperones, transportation and swim suits for the kids, because we know it’s the most important thing we can do to prevent accidental drowning in our community,” Pat emphasized.
He and his wife are also working towards eliminating accidental drowning incidents across the country.
Pat explained “the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center has developed a powerful water safety curriculum; we provide this programming to all the kids in our community at no cost. Our vision is to syndicate this so it can be implemented in more communities and help more children and adults become water safe. We work hard at fund raising so we can provide access to our pools, our programming and to our competitive teams to everyone in our community, regardless of their ability to pay. Along with water safety education, access to a pool for everyone in our community is a big priority.”
Pat’s enthusiasm for the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center is boundless: “It’s such a great honor to volunteer for an organization that impacts so many Pasadena residents. We serve the community with a robust variety of aquatics programming for every age and ability level – from toddler programs, competitive programs, water aerobics, our Rays program to Olympic qualifiers. With 500,000 people through our door each year, we work hard every day to maintain the highest safety standards and provide access to everyone in our community.”
Needless to say, Pat Amsbry spends a lot of time outside his office’s four walls. But this professional entrepreneur, when he is sitting at his desk, is piloting Flying A Media, an advertising agency based in Pasadena, California, an agency founded by his father in 1978. Pat joined his dad as a partner, and they worked together up until his father’s retirement in 2019.
Today, as a second-generation owner of the company, “my vision is to grow the company in a novel way, to create amazing results for our clients and use the business as a force for good – to provide opportunities for everyone on the team in a way that we believe is different than most companies,” Pat noted.
Flying A Media is now a “conscious company” and is working towards becoming a Certified B-Corporation.
“As the company grows, the financial and outreach opportunities for all those on the team will grow as well. We already match employee charitable contributions and offer our employees the opportunity to give back through paid volunteer time. Whether it’s the Pasadena Humane Society or The Meow Meow Foundation, we want everybody on the team to find what they’re passionate about…there are so many wonderful nonprofit organizations in our community.”
Flying A plans to make significant community impact by sharing a percentage of their profits through a donor advised fund that is specifically designated for nonprofit organizations in Pasadena.
“I am choosing to run a ‘conscious company’ because I care about my community and my team, and, it’s just the right thing to do,” Pat said. “If there isn’t a benefit to our business, I’m still going invest in my team and my community as long as I can do it.”
As Pat finished his second cappuccino, he said he couldn’t let me go without pitching me on