Interview: Maggie Gaspar, President of Gamecock SCUBA Club!
In this interview, DJ Punky gets the chance to ask Maggie Gaspar, President of Gamecock SCUBA, some questions about the student org!
DJ Punky: Okay! So, we are live. I’m DJ Punky from It’s Just A Phase, and I’m here today with a representative from the University of South Carolina’s SCUBA Club. It’s a relatively small organization, so if you haven’t heard of it, I wouldn’t be surprised, but it’s definitely something you should hear about because they do some really cool stuff. So, without further ado, would you like to introduce yourself and your organization for us?
Maggie: I am Maggie Gaspar, and I’m the President of the Gamecock SCUBA Club here on campus.
DJ Punky: Exciting! So what does SCUBA Club do? Do y’all have a mission or anything specific? Do y’all just hang out?
Maggie: So, our mission is to get more people certified, more people in the water. If you’re interested in any sort of, whether it’s snorkeling, SCUBA diving, maybe rescue diving, maybe scientific diving, we help to get freshmen, or any class, certified. We work with some non-profits on- and off-campus to make it more affordable for people to get certified because it does come with a heavy price tag. Beyond that, we like to do a lot of community service in and out of the water and go on some fun trips and see some cool stuff.
DJ Punky: Yeah, I’ve heard about some of y’all’s trips, especially the ones you took this year. Could you tell me more about your experience on those? The general experience? I heard y’all got certified to clean coral, right?
Maggie: Yes! Yeah, so our spring break trip this year, we went to Key Largo, Florida, and we worked with a really amazing foundation called Coral Restoration Foundation. And basically, they took us to their underwater nursery, where they grow little coral polyps on these big PVC pipes, and it looks like a Christmas tree farm underwater! And we scrubbed them and cleaned them and made them all healthy, and then they took us to a coral reef around the same area, and we got to outplant some of those corals that we had been cleaning up. So, we are officially certified as coral farmers, and it was a really cool experience. That was my first real tropical dive, and I think I can say the same for several of the other divers that went with us.
DJ Punky: So fun! Y’all have not one, but two, marine certifications. How exciting! I mean, I know you were SCUBA certified before that, but you guys help some of the members get SCUBA certified, right?
Maggie: Yeah, yeah! So we also like to go to a couple quarries in the Carolinas that are actually made to help divers get certified or to help beginner divers, so there’s lots of real cool things submerged under the quarries, and there’s a rope that you can follow the whole way around so that you can’t get lost down there, and it’s very entertaining. They sunk a couple planes and cars and buses and you can play basketball with bowling balls underwater! So it’s a great place. And there’s no current, there’s no sharks in a quarry, so it’s a good place for those beginner divers. So, yeah, we like to do a range of beginner-level dives, more advanced dives, and anything in between.
DJ Punky: It’s like daycare for SCUBA divers. Step one. That sounds awesome, that sounds really fun. So, how big of an organization is SCUBA Club, and are you guys looking to grow? What’s your plan?
Maggie: Yeah, so pre-COVID, SCUBA Club existed, and I believe it was pretty big. I was a member myself my freshman year. However, whenever the pandemic hit and we weren’t allowed to travel as much, we had to be discontinued, so this fall, I started it back up again, and we’re a small, tight-knit group. I think we’re a club of about 25 active members, and some of those members are certified, some of those members are in the process of getting certified, and some of them are still waiting. But those are our active members, and we are definitely looking to grow. Love getting more people in the water and more people to explore. It’s a whole other world down there! I want more people to see how crazy it is! It’s beautiful! It’s untouched!
DJ Punky: It’s really cool that you guys have that community. I know that, obviously, WUSC is a pretty big organization, and I love the things about it that are great about it, but it must be cool to have that tight-knit, smaller feel sometimes, and it’s also awesome that you guys are open to have no SCUBA experience whatsoever are are just prospective about getting certified. That’s really awesome.
Maggie: Yeah, a big part of SCUBA diving in general is, you have to have a lot of trust with your dive buddies because once you’re under the water, you can’t really talk. You can communicate with hand signs, but that’s kind of it, so it’s good to have a tight-knit and good to have a lot of trust in the people that you’re going in the water with.
DJ Punky: You have to trust them a little bit more than your co-host. On here, all that matters is, I don’t know, that they turn your mic on for you, not that you follow all the rules of SCUBA. So, speaking of community, how does SCUBA Club serve the University of South Carolina community?
Maggie: So, a really big motto in the diving community, snorkeling community is “take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but bubbles,” so we kind of try to incorporate in everything, so we like to do a lot of cleanups in and out of the water. You know, litter cleanups around the river, or there’s also a certification called Divers Against Debris, where you actually go diving with a mesh bag and you pick up all the trash that boaters just throw off the boats, so that’s a really cool thing. And, then again, with the non-profit that we work with, SCUBA diving certifications are not cheap, so we try to get everyone certified regardless of their financial status or regardless of anything like that. I think that’s a pretty big way that we’re able to get out in our community and help out.
DJ Punky: That’s awesome! For those of you listening who are USC students, they actually have a USC SCUBA certification class, too. I’m sure you know about it. But if you’re interested, that could be something that you could take to SCUBA Club. I’m sure they have some advice on that. And, if you’re interested in getting certified and that doesn’t work with your schedule, then maybe you should reach out to SCUBA Club and see if they have something that could work for you. I’ve actually been trying to get certified for a few years, and it’s never fit in my schedule, so SCUBA Club may be my next move, I don’t know. We’ll see.
Maggie: I want Sully in the water!
DJ Punky: I’ll be DJing from underwater next time, guys. No, I won’t. Oh, they’d be so mad at me. I’d break all the equipment. I’d get fired as a DJ.
Maggie: All the fish would become DJ Punky fans.
DJ Punky: Oh, perfect. I’ll lose all my above water audience, but I would be the first DJ they ever met.
Maggie: Yeah, all the mermaids, all my mermaid friends do listen to pop punk and emo music. It’s our favorite genre.
DJ Punky: So, anyway, for anybody interested, like myself, how would someone go about joining your organization? If they wanted to, where could they to learn more information? Do you guys have social media or a GarnetGate page? Any of that kind of stuff?
Maggie: So, you can look up Gamecock SCUBA on Garnet Gate. We are also @gamecockscuba on Instagram. And we like to post things about upcoming events, new member meetings, and things like that. Yep, Garnet Gate and Instagram.
DJ Punky: I also happen to know, if you ever see Maggie walking around campus, and you say hi, she will be very excited.
Maggie: I would be so excited!
DJ Punky: She doesn’t have to know you right away, you can just say, “Oh, hey, you’re SCUBA Club President,” and she’ll be like “Ah!”
Maggie: You don’t have to know me, period. I’ll start talking about SCUBA and water.
DJ Punky: I will warn you, though, the first, like, 6 people you see with a nose ring and bangs, you’re going to think is Maggie, so it’s going to be hit or miss for a minute. You’re going to strike out once or twice. You’re going to say, “Oh, Maggie!” and then they’ll say “No…”
Maggie: We all know each other, it’s fine. You’ll find a Maggie eventually.
DJ Punky: At some point, you’ll get to where you’re going. Well, you guys can look out for, maybe, some PSAs involving safe SCUBA and responsible marine habits coming up. That’s something that’s me and Maggie’s next project for WUSC. And, you heard where you can find them, Gamecock SCUBA on Instagram and on Garnet Gate. Definitely recommend looking into that if it’s something that piqued your interest during this talk. Yeah, it’s a really cool idea, it’s a cool thing. And, as far as I have heard, it’s literally no commitment. You don’t have to come in there day one and be like “Oh yeah, I’m going to do this for four years, and I’m going to get certified” and all that, it’s very easy-going and relaxed, and if you just want to evaluate it, I’m sure that any member of SCUBA Club will be more than to talk about it and would be more than happy to sit down with you and discuss time commitment or the amount of money or anything like that. And it’s also very, from what I’ve heard, voluntary participation, so if you don’t want to go on a trip, you don’t have to go on a trip and things like that. I mean, of course, you’re encouraged to go because you get to see all this cool stuff, but if there’s one that’s too expensive or doesn’t work with your schedule, they’re very understanding about that. And I know Maggie will always sit down and talk SCUBA with anyone.
Maggie: I would love to.
DJ Punky: So, yeah, thank you so much for doing this interview.
Maggie: Yeah! Thanks for having me on WUSC!
DJ Punky: Ah, guys you’re listening to WUSC-FM & HD-1 Columbia!
Maggie: With DJ Punky!
DJ Punky: And this is probably It’s Just A Phase! Alright, well we have to go, but thank you so much!