From her earliest years, Katie Gallo has been involved with parks and athletic activities either as a participant, camp counselor or supervisor. Currently in her sixth year as recreation coordinator for the City of Malibu’s Parks and Recreation Department, Gallo’s love of sports and enjoyment working with youth shine as bright as her smile.
Born and raised in Harbor City, Gallo moved to Camarillo at age 10. She joined the local YMCA in second grade and learned dance and cheerleading. By the age of 15, she was the gym supervisor and a referee for basketball. Upon graduating from Camarillo High School in 2002, Gallo attended California Lutheran University and played basketball for a year and a half.
Later she transferred to the University of Colorado in the active mountain community of Boulder, Colo. While taking 19 credits per semester, Gallo worked full time for the South Suburban Parks and Recreation Department in nearby Littleton, Colo. for three years. It was there she found her calling in youth sports.
Soon after graduating in 2005 with a double-major bachelor’s degree in history and communication, an opportunity opened up to work for the City of Malibu. She took it, and in 2009 added to her education with a Master’s degree in Recreational Sport Management from Cal State Northridge. Today, Gallo oversees all youth sports, summer camps, facility permits and field allocation. Gallo is also the director for the Southern California Municipal Athletic Federation of Channel Cities, where she oversees monthly meetings and roundtable discussions for Parks and Recreation.
The Malibu Times caught up with Gallo as she is in the midst of organizing more than 15 summer camps for the youth of Malibu.
Talk about your passion for Parks and Recreation and how it shaped your career today.
My passion for Parks and Recreation began when I was very young. By the time I was in fifth grade, I was participating in soccer, basketball, volleyball and track. When I reached high school, I wanted to give back to the kids as well. I volunteered, coached and officiated. I really learned early what it was to do all three aspects of the program—respect what coaches do, respect how players are and to respect referees. I really wanted to administer those types of programs to the community. Parks and Recreation is a great outlet for young children to meet new friends and be active.
How is the present-day situation for Parks and Recreation here in Malibu?
Right now it is absolutely amazing. We live in a great community and we have a lot of giving parents who want to give back and be there for the children. In the past six years since I have been here, we have never had a program or team cancel because we couldn’t have a parent volunteer. Parents have always come through. They have always stepped up and never let their kids down. We have great board members in our sports programs to work with and an excellent athletic system at the high school to provide feeder programs for.
What is the vision and future of Malibu’s Park and Recreation Department?
We are currently undergoing the Parks and Recreation 10-year “Master Plan.” We provided the public with surveys. We should have the statistically valid results back by the end of this fall. That will lay out the next 10 years of what the citizens and residents of Malibu want, whether it is more senior-centered programs, more field space, recreation center (gym, swimming pool) or horse trails. We are going to find out what everyone wants and try to accomplish as many of those as possible.
How did the NFL’s Play60 program go this past year in collaboration with your department?
The NFL’s Play60 Program was such an amazing series of clinics. We received a $50,000 donation from the NFL to help promote our youth sports and fitness. We held four clinics where we encouraged kids to meet a famous athlete, to try a sport that they might not have tried, and to learn a message about eating healthy, exercising, achieving your goals and living a positive lifestyle. We hosted Jessica Mendoza (softball), Candace Parker (basketball), Kerri Walsh (volleyball) and Royce Clayton (baseball). The clinics were full and the athletes were first class.