When it comes to higher education, space is a valuable commodity. This holds true at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) where Campus Rec shares the Swinney Center with Athletics. As such, flexible rec center spaces are a necessity.
Since two growing entities use the facility, there is a limitation on space. However, Campus Rec took advantage of the situation and is now offering several unique programs in one of the few areas not shared with Athletics — the racquetball courts.
“We are the only department that programs in that space and can host as many leagues for as many teams as are needed,” said Casey Davison, the senior coordinator of Recreational Sports. “Cricket is one sport that’s become very popular at UMKC post-COVID-19. It led us to develop indoor cricket played in the racquetball courts as an additional offering. We have even started to see open rec indoor cricket games played in the courts since we left the lines up on the walls. This has increased facility swipes from students who normally would only come to the rec for cricket in the fall.”
The racquetball courts are also used for:
- Private workout space.
- Dance practices.
- Wallyball events.
- Organization reservations.
EXTRA CREDIT: Other ways to transform your unused racquetball courts.
This flexibility extends to other areas, like the old Swinney gym that hosts multiple intramurals including futsal, badminton, pickleball and group fitness studios.
While shared spaces can be hard to maintain, Liz Hoffman-Shrout, the director of Campus Recreation, and Nathan Lonngren, the Operations coordinator, both said there are many positives:
- A shared maintenance budget.
- Student employment opportunities.
- Unique collaborations between departments.
- Division I quality facilities.
The strategy of adaptable rec areas is also found at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) in the Leonard J. Kaplan Center for Wellness.
Jill Beville, the director of Recreation and Wellness, said they have four fitness studio spaces outfitted with projectors and screens. Uses include:
- Virtual classes.
- Workshops and conferences.
- Recreational need for group classes, rehearsal space and individual training.
There are also three separate gymnasium spaces for various activities.
“Fencing lines were incorporated on the floor of one of the studios so the fencing club has a place to practice that does not take up a court in one of the gyms,” said Beville. “The layout of our facility is very functional and open. This allows for the cardio and weight equipment to be moved as needed and create workout spaces throughout the facility.”
To increase the amount of functional fitness space, Beville said they added two Queenax pieces from Precor to help the area’s flow and flexibility. “When the facility first opened, Precor was able to assist with determining equipment for the spaces and worked with the fitness staff to design the Queenax equipment for patron use as well as the storage solutions in the fitness studios,” she said. “The flexible spaces allow the facility to accommodate various activities and meet the needs of our campus community.”
Both UMKC and UNCG Campus Rec are reaping the benefits from their flexible rec center spaces. Their careful planning ensures no matter what the departments may look like years from now, students will still have adequate space to enjoy their college experience.