Lifestyles, August 2013

In this section, we highlight the unique traits, talents, hobbies and extraordinary passions of industry professionals. If you or someone you know would be a great candidate for this monthly feature, contact Associate Editor Antinea Ascione at (701) 293-7775 or [email protected].

Mark Walton (center)
Bally Technologies

Special hobby: Professional musician.

Describe your special hobby: I’m the bassist in The Dream Syndicate, an indie rock band from the ’80s that recently reunited and has been touring again, including a 10-day, six-country European tour. When I lived in New Orleans, I was in the Continental Drifters.

What attracted you to it? Like any musician, it was the girls. When I was serious about it, I loved the feeling I got when I was playing. It was a euphoric kind of feeling—especially when playing bass. I love the warmth and the fullness.

How long have you been doing it? I’ve been a musician since I was a young child, 7 or 8 years old.

How often do you play? Sitting in my bedroom, I play all the time. Sometimes I’ll play guitar and jam with my 12 year old. For touring, it depends on how much available time I can take away from my job.

How do people react to this? I wouldn’t be doing The Dream Syndicate if people didn’t hold it dear to their hearts for 25, 30 years. In Greece during our recent tour, the fans knew every single lyric and were singing at the top of their lungs.

What’s the best part of playing? To me it’s like a religion. It’s a belief, security and a comfort feeling for me. That’s why I knew that I would always somehow play.

Jay Sarno
Jay Sarno & Associates

Special work: Firefighter.

Describe your work: I am a career firefighter as well as a training officer. I also teach firefighting at the Atlantic County (N.J.) Fire Academy.

What attracted you to that field? After the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy, I became interested in firefighting. I started volunteering locally and found I really took to the strategic and tactical parts of the work.

How long have you been a firefighter? 12+ years.

How do people react when they hear about your work? They are pretty interested in hearing about it and learning more about difficult incidents.

What’s the best part of being a firefighter? Helping people out who, usually through no fault of their own, find themselves needing a hand. During Hurricane Sandy, I was part of a team that rescued people from the flood waters, which gave us all a great feeling.

Is there anything else you’d like to add? Now that I have experienced and learned from others in the field, teaching and passing along information is very gratifying.

Christy Joiner Congleton

Special Hobby: Golfing.

Describe your special hobby: I play golf like the tomboy I have always been. I only play from the men’s tees and I am always trying to hit the ball farther, better and more consistently. Golf is a Zen experience—an opportunity to master yourself and your body.

What attracted you to this? At first, absolutely nothing attracted me to golf. I grew up on a golf course. My dad played, my mother played, my brother played and, therefore, I played. We teed off every Sunday at 10 a.m. I used to complain bitterly about it. As I approached adulthood, I became serious about the game. First, I just wanted to beat my brother, who was on the golf team and hit the ball so far that I am still reaching for that kind of club-head speed. Then, I wanted to be the women’s club champion before my studies took me away to some distant city. Now I try to enjoy the game every opportunity I get.

How often do you golf? A round of golf takes three to four hours to complete, so it can be hard to find time to play. Being a CEO and a single parent for years did not provide much opportunity, but I take every chance that I can to tee it up.

What’s the best part of having this hobby? The best part of my golf background is that it started early and is ensconced deeply into my muscle memory. I can go out and embarrass myself one nine and tear it up the next. I can’t remember the time before I played golf. Now I truly enjoy it for the beautiful venues and the time away from obligations.

Is there anything else you’d like to add? It is strange how sometimes the thing that you never expect happens. The last thing in the world that I expected to find myself loving was golf, and now it is a permanent part of my life. Playing golf taught me early how hard it is to be successful and how success might just come in very unexpected packages.

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