He dreamed of being a professional athlete as a child, but when he grew up, he discovered he was already doing a different dream job: designing aquatics facilities for athletes. Still, 35-year-old Scott Hester doesn’t considers himself “grown up” just yet. He is still amazed to be considered an industry leader and expert.

“I’m still so young and I have so much more to learn and to offer the industry over the next 20 years,” says the studio director and principal at designing firm Counsilman-Hunsaker in St. Louis.

Though a kid at heart, Hester has plenty of adult responsibilities. He is a partner at the firm and often can be seen speaking at national conferences on a variety of topics, including facility budgeting and operation, and municipal designing.

Even since joining Counsilman-Hunsaker in 1998, Hester’s gone through a baptism by fire. But his background in civil engineering and architecture made him more than up to the challenge. And then there’s his enthusiasm.

“I truly enjoy and love what I do, and going to work every day and doing what I do is a joy,” he says.

But his gung-ho attitude is tempered by serious concerns.

“So many publicly owned facilities operate under a debt service,” he says. “People need to be more aware of things they can do to make their facilities economic assets for that community.”

Rather than revenue spenders, he says aquatics facilities need to be seen as revenue generators. Such facilities can then make justifiable arguments for improvements, additions and expansions.

That’s where Hester and company come in — and their lasting relationships with clients. “You may do a project for someone and it may be 30 years later that they may request your services again,” he says. His company already is experiencing that phenomenon as pools begin to age or municipalities desire modernized, updated facilities.

He says he is extremely fortunate to work with “some of the best architects in the world” and to have learned a lot from others in the aquatics industry. “What I’ve learned is to learn from others,” he says. “Then make it better.” — Rin-rin Yu