Hometown boy returns

Schugel heads NU Park and Recreation Department

Staff photo by Fritz Busch New Ulm Park and Recreation Director Joey Schugel stands outside the New Ulm Recreation Center entrance. Schugel succeeds Tom Schmitz who was park and recreation director for nearly 18 years and worked 45 years in recreation.

NEW ULM — New Ulm native Joey Schugel became the City of New Ulm Park & Recreation Director this week, following Tom Schmitz who held the position for nearly 18 years.

Working in recreation for 45 years, Schmitz received the 2022 Clifton E. French Distinguished Service Award, the highest professional award given by the Minnesota Recreation and Parks Association.

Schugel brings a wealth of experience to the job. For the past five years, he was St. Peter Director of Recreation & Leisure Services. Prior to that, he was City of New Ulm Recreation Program Supervisor for nearly five years.

After graduating from Cathedral High School in 2001, he played baseball at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa before Southwest Minnesota State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in sports and fitness administration and management.

Schugel worked in Wells Fargo investment annuities in downtown Minneapolis because he couldn’t find a full-time park and recreation job after his undergraduate college studies.

While working for Wells Fargo Bank in investment annuities full time, Schugel also worked part-time in activities in the cities of Golden Valley, Plymouth and Monticello before working as St. Michael-Albertville School District Activity Center Coordinator and as recreation coordinator at West Tonka Schools.

Schugel earned an online masters degree in parks and recreation administration from the University of Illinois before going to work in St. Peter from 2018 to 2023, although he and his family lived in New Ulm.

“I absolutely loved my time working in New Ulm and was lucky enough to find work back in my hometown,” Schugel said. “My mom and dad and sister and her family are in New Ulm. I was lucky enough to participate in a lot of great things growing up here, playing football, basketball and baseball. I just couldn’t get enough.”

Schugel said he really enjoyed working in St. Peter where he found good leadership and good people in a supportive community, like New Ulm.

“New Ulm’s park and recreation system is fantastic. It’s really something desirable for me to come back and lead with our three big indoor facilities, the recreation, civic and community center and 43 park units,” Schugel said. “With all the things our employees do here, it’s a very desirable opportunity. My goal is to continue the great things Tom Schmitz did here. He was a very responsible for leading awesome projects we have here. I was lucky enough to work under him here. Tom accomplished so much here. He left a great team in place.”

Schugel said he wants to continue to enable the park and recreation team to be great and give them the tools they need to succeed.

“We have some big projects and initiatives to do. The City of New Ulm is doing a comprehensive plan. Park and recreation is a huge part of that,” Schugel added. “We’re looking at options for the long-term sustainability of the Hermann Monument and continuing to operate great indoor and outdoor community facilities.”

“We have such a diverse park system. I hope we have something for everyone,” Schugel said. “The baseball player in me loves the Johnson Park renovation in the last few years. It’s a great traditional piece of our City going forward for a long time. It’s always fun to see for baseball players and fans.”

Schugel said he’ll work on continuing to operate New Ulm’s wonderful facilities efficiently and effectively for everyone to enjoy.

“I’m just thankful to have this opportunity. This position allows our team and myself to be in role to impact the quality of life in our community,” said Schugel. “Our department tagline is to continue to put smiles on people’s faces.”

Joey and Kallie, a Brown County Human Services social worker, have four children.


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