In 2019, the industry of campus recreation took on some new trends and improved some old ones.
From esports and renovations to wellness and collaboration, this year’s cover stories highlighted schools across the U.S who are making waves in the industry. Below is a recap of the biggest takeaways from each story.
Cover Story: Something Old, Something New
Who: The University of Michigan
Where: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Bringing together the historical and modern is quite a task. But recreational sports at the University of Michigan took it on.
“We really tried to balance the history of the building, and the history of our program, with bringing a new renovation online,” said Mike Widen, the director of recreational sports. “But there’s some factors of very historical significance of the building. We built in specific pieces of the building to feel very iconic and historic.”
Even more than the space, it’s been the recognition that recreational sports is also a place for students to build community. “People find their community through us, through all our programs, through our facilities, through working for us,” said Lisa Shea, the associate director of programs and marketing. Read it.
Cover Story: An Agent of Change
Who: The University of South Carolina Aiken
Where: Aiken, South Carolina
Budgets and buildings must not be a barrier.
The above statement was made by Mila Padgett during a NIRSA 2016 talk show panel. It stemmed from a turning point she had in her career, realizing she was not alone in struggling with budget and resource limitations. “I learned you don’t need all that stuff,” she said. “Is it nice? Yes. Do I want it? Yes. But do I need it in order to make an impact? No.”
The team faces limits and restraints all the time; whether it’s a $5,000 annual intramural budget, or sharing shifts when a wellness center manager has emergency knee surgery, there is always something. But that’s why Padgett said it’s essential to figure out how to do more with less.
“We have an excellent team that is dedicated to positively impacting those who are part of our programs,” said Padgett. “That, in my opinion, is exactly what is needed to be a change agent and sets the course for making a difference in people’s lives.” Read it.
Cover Story: One WSU
Who: Washington State University
Where: Pullman, Washington
Since opening in 2001, the Student Recreation Center at Washington State University (WSU) has seen over 12 million uses.
“WSU as a whole has really made a concerted effort to engage the smaller branch campuses and the online students to really try and create more of a true college experience for them,” said Jeff Elbracht, the director of facilities.
The idea of “One WSU” has taken root in the department as they strive to seriously address the present issues. While not all the branches have a recreation program or department — and while some students just exist online — it has required Elbracht and the team to engage students in different ways than they are used to.
Ultimately, it’s about trying to be a resource for other campuses and those online. “Having students realize this is something we’re trying to encourage for their college experience, we give them these online resources and videos they can then take and implement themselves,” said Elbracht. Read it.