Sales & Service Staff
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, 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
Real 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.
St. Cloud Store Manager
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: Store Manager of MSD in our St. Cloud location.
Things I'm involved in: I am a certified Aqua Lung and Apeks Repair Technician, 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
MSD DSG (Dive Shop Girl) - Brainerd
Original Certification Date: June 2012
Diving History: I've always had a love for water; I grew up on the Gull River so anything involving water has always been a favorite pastime of mine. When my friend Brittany got her open water certification, she enjoyed it so much - I felt I had to join her. I was hooked right from the start. Since I got certified, I've gone diving in the Cuyuna Mine Pits on a couple of Fun Dives and with friends, took a trip to Australia and dived at Blue Pearl Bay off Hayman Island and at Reefworld on the outer part of the Great Barrier Reef in 2013.
Favorite Dives: Nothing will pass up the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands, but I do enjoy the fresh water fish and wildlife as well, Louise Mine in the Cuyuna Mines is another favorite.
Day Job: I also work at Coco Moon Coffee Bar and Erickson's Greenhouse.
Other Interests: I love being outdoors, camping, hiking, swimming, ice skating... etc.
MSD DSG (Dive Shop Guy) - Brainerd
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!
MSD DSG (Dive Shop Girl) - St. Cloud & Brainerd
Original Certification Date: July 2014
Diving History: I was certified at the age of 17 through MSD in the St. Cloud location. I have a bachelor's degree in Biodiversity, Ecology & Evolution and have always been a science nerd. I was/still am excited at the opportunities available to explore and experience the ecology and biodiversity that comes with the aquatic world.
Favorite Dives: I dove both Blue Grotto and Devil's Den in Williston, Florida in March of 2020 - they are only about 10 minutes apart from each other and are AMAZING freshwater spring dives. Blue Grotto typically has good visibility and also has a super friendly Florida softshell turtle named Virgil that will come right up to you underwater. I would highly recommend looking up pictures of Devil's Den - visibility is great and it's gorgeous even above the surface.
Things I'm Involved In: At MSD I plan and put on our yearly Women's Dive Day event, assist with repairs/servicing equipment where I can, general sales, and run our marketing.
Day Job: Recreation Programmer for the City of St. Cloud Park and Recreation Department
Other Interests: Hiking with my dog, camping, kayaking, crocheting, and almost anything creative.
MSD DSG (Dive Shop Girl) - Brainerd
Original Certification Date: I earned my PADI Open Water Certification on August 21st, 2019 with Minnesota School of Diving, Brainerd
Diving History: My diving history began by listening to the conversations before dives, after dives, on dive trips (as a non diver) and helping out during Fun Dives and at the Brainerd shop. After several years of this experience I took the "plunge" and signed up for the Open Water Class. In 2020, I achieved Advanced Open Water and in 2021 completed the Rescue Diver course. Currently I am working on completing Specialty Courses to reach Master Diver.
Favorite Dives: Since the majority of my dives have been in the Cuyuna Mine Pits I can say that I find something new with every dive. My only experience in warm water has been Cozumel which is amazing, especially the night dives there, I recently had an opportunity to dive the Cenotes in Riviera Maya, Mexico and think I have found a new interest!
Day Job: You will find me at the Brainerd Dive Shop Mondays and Fridays. I also am a substitute preschool teacher with Early Head Start, Head Start and the Brainerd School District.
Other Interests: I have always had a love of fishing, although since I started diving my "fishing" has shifted to observing them underwater. Family and especially my grandchildren are the highlight of my life. Travel is included in my interests since the grandchildren live in North Carolina and Georgia.
MSD DSG (Dive Shop Girl) - St. Cloud
Original Certification Date: Plan to begin certification classes soon!
Diving History: Not a lot of scuba diving but plenty of snorkeling adventures.
Things I'm Involved In: Daily tasks at the shop. Visuals, fills, and customer sales.
Day Job: Bartend at Beaudreaus and work for All State Traffic Control
Other Interests: I enjoy traveling mostly for the food and good company from new friends. Big into music and I love attending festivals and shows.
MSD DSG (Dive Shop Girl) - Brainerd
Original Certification Date: July 2020
Diving History: A dive trip to Bonaire for my daughter was my first introduction to open water. After snorkeling for the first time with her and Todd Matthies, I was enamored with the sights below the water's surface. I became enticed by the dynamic of fish and their environment. Through the pandemic I was able to achieve my certification in July 2020, at age 51. Since then I have experienced dives in the mine pits of the Cuyuna range.
Favorite Dives: The mine pits have led me to explore gaggles of panfish, bass, northerns, and the natural habitat of such cold-water dwellers. From deconstructed beaver dams, sunken vehicles, manmade decor, deconstructed mining properties, and flouring underwater discoveries; the cold waters of the flooded mine pits have become my new underwater paradigm.
Things I'm Involved In: I was able to be a participant of MSD Women's Dive Day with my daughter, MSD Fun Dives, and help with the series and retail of the MSD Brainerd shop. As I become a more experienced diver, I plan to learn underwater photography and conservation to protect our planet's oceans for healthy reefs and their inhabitants.
Day Job: I'm lucky enough to have MSD as my primary job but also volunteer for rescue and adoption for domestic animals throughout Minnesota as well as philanthropic endeavors for various rescues. I've worked for 13 years as a senior animal foster/adoptor and 8 years owning a horse ranch.
Other Interests: My life-long interests are animals and the outdoors. I have two horses, three cats, and one dog, I love camping, writing, photography for fun, cooking outdoors, music, and art. I have three teenagers who also help keep me busy and having fun.