The Final Exam is your chance to get advice and insights from experts in the industry. For the January/February 2023 issue, Campus Rec Magazine spoke with Steven A. Trotter, the director of Well-Being at East Carolina University.
1. How did you get started in the industry?
I got started in the industry at an early age. I joined the Gold’s Gym in my hometown of Asheboro, North Carolina, at age 16 and lost over 120 pounds between my sophomore and senior years of high school. By the time I was a senior in high school, I had completed training and was teaching cycle classes at my local health club. That early start landed me a job as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer before my first year of college at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
2. How would you go about describing campus recreation at East Carolina University (ECU)?
Campus Recreation and Wellness at ECU is forward-thinking, innovative, fun and full of problem-solvers. We are trendsetters, and our goal is to “Be the Benchmark.” We like to play hard, and we live well. No matter how a Pirate chooses to recreate, we cultivate an inclusive environment where people have a sense of belonging and strive to help our community thrive.
3. What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced throughout your career?
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in my career is one I am currently experiencing. I’m fortunate to be in a place where we don’t need to prove to anyone why our department and our team exist or that we provide value to overall well-being, student success and retention, and employee engagement. That said, we simply don’t have the resources to keep up with the demand. For example, we weren’t allowed to refill full-time positions during COVID-19, which put us at a disadvantage coming into this year. We had to mass hire over the summer and are trying to onboard new team members as quickly as possible while providing services. In addition, we permanently lost half of our vacant positions during COVID-19, which has created additional challenges considering the demand for services is higher than before.
4. What has been one of the biggest accomplishments of your career?
A few significant accomplishments I’d highlight in my career: I served on the American Council on Exercise (ACE) Industry Advisory Panel from 2012 to 2015 representing all university recreation and well-being programs from around the globe. I’ve also been a subject matter expert for ACE since 2014. In 2017 I was a top three finalist for the IDEA World Health & Fitness Program Director of the Year award. I founded a global well-being consulting company, Globetrotter Wellness Solutions, in 2017.
5. What is one lesson you have learned that other recreation professionals might benefit from?
One lesson I have learned others might benefit from is if you want to advance the industry, be progressive and deliver world-class recreational experiences, you have to be willing to look outside of higher education and learn from other sectors. Whether it be the commercial club market, corporate companies, or hospitality, tourism, transportation and consulting groups, there are nuggets of information waiting to be applied to the campus rec and wellness world.
6. What is one fun fact about yourself others may not know?
I’ve been able to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean and the sunset over the Pacific Ocean on the same day. I’ve also guest starred on the show One Tree Hill and appeared on the Food Network show, Heat Seekers. I am also currently writing a textbook, “Fitness Facility Management.” So perhaps it’s three fun facts? I’d say that’s very on brand for me.
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