By Brandei Clifton
January 11, 2024
The Heart & Soul of Silver Dollar City isn’t always seen. A lot of our magic makers are behind the scenes, hustling to create a homerun culture where folks want to work because they feel valued as members of the team.
Long-time Branson coach Brendan McGinnis knows the importance of nurturing and growing players. He also knows life’s game goes on after retirement – and that season is just as sweet.
You won’t find him on the football field or baseball diamond these days but he’s still busy building teams in an HR role at Silver Dollar City that allows him to keep encouraging area youth. He’s helped grow a program that transports 14 and 15-year-olds, by bus, from their hometowns to and from work at The City.
“These kids just need a chance,” he says. “This allows them to work the summers with us without needing to count on an adult to bring them to and from work and, hopefully, get them to stay in our family when they’re old enough to drive. They find their place here.”
To Brendan, finding your place in life is a series of connections – like spider webs – that all lead you to the spot where you’re destined to make a difference. “City life” wasn’t necessarily his plan after the COVID-19 pandemic stole his final baseball season.
“I was retiring from Branson schools in May 2020 and was eager for one more spring season,” he recalls. “The athletic director came to me in March and said the year was over because the state was shutting down. I was so crushed for those seniors. There was no closure for them or my career as a teacher and coach. That’s hard.”
That summer, the new retiree was striking out when it came to enjoying all the new-found time on his hands.
“I had spent more than 30 years bouncing back and forth between football and baseball seasons. It was go, go, go! I found myself having a hard time being idle because you get so conditioned to a fast pace. I really felt a void.”
That’s when he reached out to Silver Dollar City President Brad Thomas, a fellow graduate of Central High School.
“I joked that I would staple papers for him or anything he needed to be done. I had to find something to do with my time and you can only golf so much.”
Shortly after that, he got a call from The City. A job had opened up at the park that leaders thought would be a perfect fit for an “old” coach.
“The company wanted to make some changes to its youth employment program to help fill gaps post-COVID,” he explains. “I was excited to bring my education and coaching experience to this new role to help grow that workforce.”
Brendan currently wears various “hats” in HR, including talking to youth at high school college fairs. Connecting with teens transports him back to his coaching days. He says Silver Dollar City is often an easy “sell” once students learn about the company’s Grow U program.
“A lot of kids think there’s no way for them to afford college,” he explains. “I’m able to connect with them and show them there’s a path to a free education once they’re on our team. Silver Dollar City has built an amazing escape for families on vacation, but I want to shine a light on how we care for our team members who create those experiences for our guests.”
Brendan, who also teaches new employee orientation classes, says the appeal of Silver Dollar City is a generational link – a treat for your senses.
“From the smell of the skillet to the blacktop in the summer, this place can transport you back to being seven years old. Or, it can take you to age 23 when you had your first child or to 30 when you took that kiddo on Fire In The Hole. It just always, always, always draws you back. It becomes familiar like family and comfortable like home.”
Reflecting on his coaching career, Brendan can feel the same sense of pride watching employees grow as he did watching his athletes sign contracts to pitch at the college level.
“I can’t wait to watch the students we’re bussing in during the summer soar in our company,” he smiles. “I’ve had former players who are now doctors, teachers, executives. The Silver Dollar City students are going to shine just as bright. What a joy to be here for that! Almost 99.9% of the success I’ve had in my life is because I’ve been surrounded by the best people. Right now, I can tell you I’m right next to the best of the bunch.”
You have the opportunity to join that bunch. Silver Dollar City is hosting a Job Fair on February 2-3 from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at Red Gold Heritage Hall at Silver Dollar City. There are various openings throughout Silver Dollar City, White Water, and Showboat Branson Belle. Call Human Resources at 417-338-8122 to schedule an interview at the event. Walk-ins are also welcome. Many job seekers will secure a position on the spot for the 2024 season. For a list of current openings, visit silverdollarcity.com/jobs.