Kansas State University (K-State) Recreational Services celebrated 100 years of intramurals at K-State in August 2021, albeit nearly a year later than planned.
The Recreational Services staff came together to provide the K-State community with safe opportunities for fun, challenges and family during the celebration, just as they have for the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
History of K-State Recreational Services
The first iteration of Recreational Services at K-State began in November 1920 when the Physical Education department put together 33 men’s basketball teams. And this marked the beginning of intramural sports at K-State.
Over the next few years, other sports were added, including:
Then in 1924, Geneva Williams founded women’s intramurals of dancing and volleyball.
Nichols Hall — which now houses the School of Music, Theatre and Dance — was originally a gymnasium with a basketball court, swimming pool and office space for the Military Science and Physical Education departments. In 1928, the program acquired intramural playing fields, which led to the additions of further sports including women’s field hockey and men’s soccer.
Finally, K-State students passed a referendum in 1948 for a new intramural facility. Intramurals were played in Nichols until 1951, when Ahearn Field House was completed.
Following this, intramural activities moved to the Ahearn gym and more intramural sports were added. The university continued to expand intramural facilities with new outdoor fields, and handball, racquetball and tennis courts in the 1960s.
However, the expansions didn’t stop there. The Natatorium addition led to more fitness programs including aqua fit, intramural swimming, water basketball and inner tube water polo, for instance. The intramural program became part of the department of Student Life. And it became Recreational Services following the completion of the Natatorium. Also by this time, discussions were underway for a new, larger facility for fitness and recreation on campus.
In 1980, with the effort of Chester E. Peters, the vice president of Student Affairs at the time, K-State became one of the first universities to open a $3.3 million stand-alone student recreation facility. The facility housed:
- A weight room
- 16 racquetball courts
- Two gyms
- An indoor running track
- A multipurpose room
Students voted to expand the new facility just 15 years later. New strength and training spaces were added, as well as personal training opportunities, sports clubs and the K-State Challenge Course. The students voted to expand the facility once again in 2007 to include:
- Additional cardio and weight rooms
- An extended indoor running track
- Multi-activity spaces
- Mind and body studios
- A climbing wall
- A juice bar
During this time, the Outdoor Rental Center received a new facility. In addition, the outdoor tennis and basketball courts were renovated. With the decline in the popularity of racquetball, Recreational Services renovated five of the existing racquetball courts in 2018. The Performance Zones are a functional training space.
Today, K-State Recreational Services continues to strengthen friendships and bonds through physical activity. In addition, it keeps the campus healthy and thriving. Recreational Services is committed to creating and growing programs to promote the well-being and mental health of its students, staff and community.