The sales, service and dive staff at Minnesota School of Diving are the people who are chiefly responsible for making scuba diving experiences with MSD so enjoyable for our customers. All of our staff started out as diving clients and while progressing through training and participation in diving activities, these individuals demonstrated an understanding and agreement with MSD'S philosophical approach to scuba diving; essentially - creating a positive, compassionate and nurturing environment for training; and organizing fun, social, and exciting experiences, which allow divers opportunities to enjoy their underwater passion. Here at Minnesota School of Diving we appreciate everything the staff does using their experience and knowledge of scuba diving to ensure a fun adventure for all of our customers.
William Matthies - Owner
PADI Instructor #79
Original Diver Certification Date: 9 B.C.E. (Before Certification Era)
Diving History: Bill started diving in 1958 A.D., 9 years before PADI started issuing the first recreational diver certifications. While working as a life guard in Mankato MN, Bill met Ken Watanabi - a diver from Hawaii. Ken introduced him to his first breath underwater at the community pool at Tourtellotte Park. He was instantly hooked. A year later, after securing a teaching position in Brainerd, Bill opened Brainerd Skindiving Supply - later known as MSD. For those truly interested, Bill wrote a book "One Earth, Two Worlds" about his life of diving and is available at either MSD store for $19.95. With the PADI Instructor number of 79, he is currently the lowest numbered active PADI Instructor in the world.
Some Favorite Dives: The World War 2 shipwrecks of Truk Lagoon, and the English Channel
Day Job: MSD tour guide
Things I'm Involved With: 30 years as a Brainerd Civil Service Commissioner
Other Interests: FreeCell and Spider Solitaire
Todd Matthies - Owner
PADI Master Instructor #60924
Original Diver Certification Date: June 1979
Diving History: Started diving when I was 6 or 7 around the dock at our lake cabin finding lost treasures (unknown to me, the "treasure" was spare change that my Dad had thrown in - pretty smart way to develop my interest in diving). Finally went through the certification when I was thirteen. Worked sporadically in the dive shop until moving away to college. Worked with Jack Gadbois at Underwater Schools of America in Maplewood, MN while persuing a history degree at the U of M. Moved back to Brainerd and started working at MSD in 1989. Received my PADI Instructor rating in 1992. Moved through the PADI ranks and completed my Master Instructor rating in 2005. While the demands of operating two dive stores keeps me busy, I still try to teach an occational Open Water Course. I still keep a very active role in conducting Advanced and Specialty training during our many dive trips, and participate heavily in the instruction of the Dive Master course.
Some Favorite Dives: Local - All of the Cuyuna sites especially the Huntington sites; Isle Royale National Park; and treasure hunting in some of the local traditional lakes. Non-local - (Palau) Ngemilis Wall and Peliliu Express; (Truk Lagoon) San Francisco Maru, Aikoku Maru, and Nippo Maru; (Pohnpei) Ahnt Atoll; (Cozumel) Punta Sur and Palancar Caves; (Little Cayman) any of the Bloody Bay Wall sites; (Roatan) Mary's Place and Spooky Channel.
Real Job: It may not seem like this is - but I'll take it.
Things I'm Involved With: Founding member (1992) of Crow Wing County Sheriff Volunteer Dive Rescue Squad. Frequent advisor to the Cuyuna Lakes State Rec Area planning board.
Other Interests: International travel that taps into my love of history - Ireland has been my latest passion; Long distance motorcycling touring - I usually try to head our west once a year on a 7 or 8 day 4 or 5K trip... just me, my lowered Fatboy, no windshield and no helmet; I enjoy (and sometimes detest) restoring my 133 year old brick house.
PADI Specialties I Myself Am Certified In: Night Diver, Wreck Diver, Drift Diver, Boat Diver, Digital Underwater Photographer, Ice Diver, Underwater Navigator, Peak Performance Buoyancy, Equipment Specialist, Dry Suit Diver, Enriched Air Diver, Search and Recovery Diver, and Underwater Videographer.
PADI Specialities I Am Certified to Teach: Night Diver, Wreck Diver, Drift Diver, Boat Diver, Digital Underwater Photographer, Ice Diver, Underwater Navigator, Peak Performace Buoyancy, Equipment Specialist, Dry Suit Diver, Enriched Air Diver, Search and Recovery Diver, and Underwater Videographer.
PADI MSDT Instructor #234437
Original Diver Certification Date: March 23rd, 2005
Day Job: Information Systems Manager
PADI Specialties I Myself Am Certified In: Ice Diver, Enriched Air Diver, Night Diver, Wreck Diver, Equipment Specialist, AWARE Fish Identification, and AWARE Coral Reef Conservation.
Other Certifications: TDI Sidemount Diver, TDI Advanced Nitrox Diver, TDI Decompression Procedures Diver, and TDI Trimix Diver
PADI Specialities I Am Certified to Teach: Ice Diver, Enriched Air Diver, Wreck Diver, Search and Recovery Diver, Dry Suit Diver, Night Diver, Deep Diver, Peak Performance Buoyancy, Project AWARE, AWARE Coral Reef Conservation, and Care for Children w/ AED.
PADI OWSI Instructor #237293
Original Diver Certification Date: September 2005
Diving History: Between 2006 and 2007 I completed Advanced and Rescue certifications along with Wreck, Ice, Nitrox, Night, Deep, Boat and Equipment specialties which fullfilled my Master Diver certification requirements. In 2010 I went on to complete my OWSI and EFR Instructor courses.
Some Favorite Dives: I just can't tell my favorite dive site in the "Pits", as as it's relatively unused as a dive site and/or swimming area now - and I try hard to keep it that way! Diving in Bonaire was fabulous! Honduras Terrific! Belize wonderful! Florida was good and Mexico fantastic! Anytime you're underwater it's a wonderful thing!
Real Job: Real Job #1 is as owner of Party World in Baxter, MN. Real Job #2 is as a scuba instructor at MSD. Real Job #3 is as the business manager for Lakes Area Yoga Association.
Things I'm Involved With: Brainerd Chamber of Commerce, Brainerd Wedding Assoc., Qualatex Balloon Network, International Balloon Assoc.,and The Crow Wing County Sheriff's Dive Team
Other Interests: I'm a Certified Baloon Artist (yes, that's a real designation/title with the official letters of "CBA" that go with it!) and LOVE any and all things balloons!
PADI Specialties I Myself Am Certified In: Deep Diver, Night Diver, Enriched Air Diver, Wreck Diver, Peak Performance Buoyancy, and Equipment Specialist.
PADI MSDT Instructor #182575
Original Diver Certification Date: Open water class in St. Cloud 1997
Diving History: I got my instructor certification in 2002 and have been very fortunate to do some amazing dives. I have been able to dive The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Fiji, Maui, Kona, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Roatan, Florida Keys and springs, the kelp forests off Catalina Island, Isle Royale and other Lake Superor Wrecks, Bonne Terre Mine, Mermet Springs along with a lot of local lakes.
Some Favorite Dives: Favorite Dive Location... Fiji. Favorite Local Dive Site... End of the Line (Huntington Mine)
Real Job: What, teaching diving isn't a real job? I am book keeper at Mattson Lumber in Nisswa.
Things I'm Involved With: I am a member of the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Dive Team
Other Interests: I have two small kids, so my interests at the moment are watching Sesame Street, changing diapers, and hanging out a the park.
PADI OWSI Instructor #272083
Original Diver Certification Date: July 2005
Diving History: I got certified in 2005 after two years of driving by the shop nearly every day gawking and wishing I could learn to dive. Finally, after getting tired of listening to me talk about it all the time, my wonderful wife Anna told me to "Just go in there and find out what you have to do to get certified and get it done!" I originally got into diving to improve my fishing and - as an aquatic biologist, to learn more about the underwater world. It did not take long to get hooked into the whole diving community and I soon wanted to expand my diving knowledge. I then did my Advanced Open Water class in 2006, Rescue in 2007, Ice Diver in 2008, joined the Crow Wing County Rescue Team in 2008, then completed my Dive Master training in 2010 and instructor rating in May 2013.
Some Favorite Dives: I am one of the few local divers that hasn't been spoiled by diving in tropical saltwater destinations (much), so all of my favorite dives have been here in the cold, dark northern waters of MN and MI. Isle Royale on Lake Superior is a favorite. The Huntington mine pit is my favorite local dive destination. I also really enjoy diving the local lakes all over MN just to see what I can find.
Day Job: This doesn't count? When I'm not teaching or helping out in the shop, I'm primarily a stay-at-home dad and work on several projects in my other interests. I did work for several years in outdoor media; writing articles, working in TV and radio, production promotions, tournament angling, etc.
Other Interests: Hunting (especially bow hunting), trapping, fishing, aquatic biology, huge NHL hockey fan (Go Wild!), camping - pretty much anything that can be done outside. I also love to dabble in land management, emphasizing on wildlife management. Food, cooking, and home improvement are also things I enjoy and spend a good amount of time doing.
PADI Specialties I Myself Am Certified In: I don't have a lot. I have many, many "specialty type" dives, just never sent in for the certification. Surprisingly, the only two I do have are: Ice Diver and Sidemount Diver.
PADI Specialities I Am Certified to Teach: Ice Diver, First Aid/CPR, Search and Recovery Diver, Peak Performance Buoyancy, AWARE Coral Reef Conservation, and Project AWARE. There are several that I would be able to teach as soon as I send the notice to PADI (such as Underwater Naturalist, Fish Identification, etc.), so let me know what you want to do and let's go diving!
PADI MSDT Instructor #379682
Original Diver Certification Date: 1998
Diving History: My fascination with water was evident when I was but a wee lad. My buddy Keith and I were always found strolling up and down the city crick, floating styrofoam pirate ships and other numerous kid activities. Fast forward a few years - our school superintendent held a discover scuba at our school pool. We immediately signed up and were doing flips and watching our bubbles rise to the surface. Needless to say, we were hooked. The next step was the open water class, which we signed up for the that night. Upon completion of the class, back in 1998, we needed to get rides in order to go scuba diving - complete and utter buzz kill. We talked about shipwreck diving all the time, especially in Lake Superior, always saying, "How cool would that be?" If it weren't for Keith, I would have never gotten certified. Fast forward again, but many more years this time, I strolled into the doors at MSD and talked to an older gentleman who informed me of the Fun Dives. I came back a couple weeks later, went on my first Fun Dive and was hooked again. MSD has been stuck with me since 2006. Which was also the year that I completed my advanced and rescue certification. Fast forward to present time, I am currently a PADI MSDT instructor at MSD.
Some Favorite Dives:
Plane ride away: Truk (Chuuk) Lagoon. Shipwreck - Shinkoku Maru.
The reason why its my favorite - As we descended to the ships port side stern, we come upon the reason the ship sank, a direct hit from a torpedo. As we got closer to the hole I looked at my depth gauge, it read 122 ft. Upon closer examination, the hole is big enough for us to enter and penetrate the ship. As we enter, I notice the mangled and twisted metal, we had to twist and turn our way into the engine room. There were many things to see in the engine room and other parts of the ship, but entering through the torpedo wreckage was my favorite part of the dive.
Local: Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior. Shipwreck - Emperor Stern. As you descend down the line into the dark cold water, the wreck slowly starts to become evident. You start to recognize the stern cabins, tipped over smoke stack, storage holds and railings. Once you start swimming around the stern of the ship, you notice bunk beds, propeller blades on the deck, anchor, and pots and pans still on the galley stove. You can hop over the railing and descend a little further into the abyss and notice the gigantic rudder. The engine room deserves its own dive, as there are tons of things to see in there - most noticeably the plaque dedicated to the lives lost.
Day Job: Siding, self employed
Other Interests: Camping, traveling, snow boarding, tennis, movies, and hanging with friends.
PADI Specialties I Myself Am Certified In: Sidemount Diver, Enriched Air Diver, Self-Reliant Diver
Other Certifications: TDI Sidemount Diver, TDI Advanced Nitrox Diver, TDI Decompression Procedures Diver, and TDI Trimix Diver
PADI Specialties I Am Certified to Teach: Sidemount Diver, Self Reliant Diver, Enriched Air Diver, Emergency O2 Provider, Deep Diver, Wreck Diver, Dry Suit Diver, Drift Diver, Boat Diver, Peak Performance Buoyancy, Diver Propulsion Vehicle, AWARE Shark Conservation, Whale Shark Awareness, Dive Against Debris, CoralWatch, Coral Health Chart, and Invasive Lionfish Tracker.
PADI OWSI Instructor #400529
Original Certification Date: July 2006
Diving History: I got certified at the age of 12 through Underwater Sports Adventure. My dad and I took the class together which made it that much more meaningful, now we can have father - daughter bonding time under water?! I was fortunate to go on a dive trip with Underwater Sports to Gilbert, MN and dive in the Mesabi Iron Range. There were a few years where I sadly didn't do much diving. I was in high school, busy with sports and my job. After high school I went to college, graduated with an AAS Degree in Professional Photography Technology - and then I had an amazing opportunity to get back into diving!. I started working at MSD! I recently received my PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor rating, and am excited to help others obtain a dream of being a certified scuba diver. I also had another first time experience with MSD, I was beyond ecstatic to join them on a trip to Bonaire in February 2014. Since then, I have helped lead MSD trips to Cozumel, Caye Caulker, Belize, Roatan and Utila, Honduras.
Favorite Dives: When I was on the trip with MSD to Bonaire, that was my first time diving in warm water! Needless to say all of those dive blew my mind! However, experiencing the dives in Cozumel... they immediately became my favorite dives, using the current to your advantage was SO much fun! Caye Caulker had great dives too, the last day of diving out on Turneffe Atoll was especially good. As much as I have a passion for diving, the topside experiences on these trips are what I will be talking about with people for years to come. Thankfully, MSD's travel philosophy is to try to avoid all-inclusive trips whenever possible. I much prefer having the opportunity to eat in authentic restaurants and interact with the locals, and experience more of the island life.
Day Job: Leadership at Kwik Trip
Things I'm involved in: I am a trained repair tech, so I help out when the Brainerd shop is swamped in the summer, I will take over repairs, along with staying caught up on the repairs in St. Cloud. I can't get enough of diving in the Cuyuna Mine Pits and participating in the MSD Fun Dives. I am always eager to learn about dive sites / trips! So come on in and tell me your stories!
Other Interests: I am ready to do anything outdoors; I love bonfires, four-wheeling, deer hunting, hiking, camping, anything that involves nature. I will try anything once... .I only have one life, so I better enjoy it!
PADI Specialties I Myself Am Certified In: Enriched Air Diver, Dry Suit Diver, Deep Diver, Wreck Diver, Boat Diver, and Equipment Specialist
PADI Specialties I Am Certified to Teach: Coral Reef Conservation, Peak Performance Buoyancy
PADI MSDT #365078
Original Certification Date: October 10th, 2004
Diving History: I started diving in 2004 after many years of "thinking" about it. The following year I started diving the Cuyuna Mine pits along with other divers I met while participating in the MSD Fun Dives. After a few years of local diving, I started traveling and diving wherever I could around the world.
Favorite Dives: Locally - End of the Line on Huntington and South Alstead; Traveling destinations - Resurrection Bay, Seward, Alaska and the Bligh Waters of Fiji.
Day Job: Technical Systems Architect
Other Interests: Boating, mountain biking, hiking or anything outdoors.
PADI Specialties I Myself Am Certified In: Enriched Air Diver
PADI Specialties I Am Certified to Teach: Deep Diver, Dry Suit Diver, Enriched Air Nitrox, Peak Performance Buoyancy, Night Diver & Wreck Diver