The Weekly Well-Cat

The weekly blog from Director Troy focuses on Rec Center activities, healthy living, being active, and overall wellness for the body, mind and soul. Recreation-related content and commentaries will spotlight fitness, wellness, sports, outdoor recreation, aquatics, leisure/relaxation, special events and/or rec life.  New postings on Wednesdays.  

NEXT POSTING:  October 23

For questions or to suggest a story idea, email us at crec-marketing@email.arizona.edu.

If you’re a regular at the pool here, Jackie Pryor, our Aquatics Coordinator, is likely a familiar face. Jackie is always on the pool deck, talking with lifeguards, training staff, or just enjoying the pool herself!

In her Aquatics role, Jackie oversees the day-to-day operations and programming of the Campus Rec pool. She trains the lifeguard staff and creates an environment where the student-employees perform very highly while also enjoying their work and one another’s company at the same time. Plus, as a Water Safety Instructor Trainer, Jackie is the point person for all things swim lessons and has been integral to the development of safe and competent swimmers in Tucson! 

Outside of her passion for aquatics, Jackie is an avid student. After receiving her master’s degree at Arizona, she immediately enrolled in a Ph.D. program to continue her journey. “Education is a priority for me,” says Jackie.  She also prioritizes education for the student-employees she supervises, working with them on balancing work and school. 

Jackie started out as a summer lifeguard in high school like many of her employees. “I had a skill set they were looking for and worked my way up to an instructor at the University of Illinois, Campus Recreation program. We had five pools at Illinois and I was given a huge opportunity for supervision and leadership,” stated Jackie. After graduating from U of I, she went on to work at Miami University’s Campus Recreation Center, finally making the trek westward to Arizona several years ago and never looking back!

At Arizona, Jackie is a proud advocate for accessibility and inclusion. She has worked tirelessly to break down barriers to participation in aquatics, advocating for the REC pool to be as accessible - physically and financially – as possible. She has created many connections all over campus that have greatly enhanced the Aquatics Program offerings and student engagement. 

In her spare time, Jackie loves to be outside. Starting early in life with family camping trips, Jackie has always appreciated the outdoors. On the weekend, you might find her out on a walk, hiking Mt. Lemmon, or partaking in one of our Outdoor Rec trips—having recently participated in one of those trips to Alaska! 

It is the hard work and care Jackie delivers every single day at the REC that has made our Aquatics Program so successful! 

-Troy

For more information on Campus Rec Aquatics Programs, visit: rec.arizona.edu/aquatics

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Photo of Erin
Being outdoors is one of Erin’s favorite activities

Our Youth Coordinator at Campus Recreation is Erin Tinker.  She is a 2011 graduate of the University of Arizona with a degree in Art Education. Erin certainly has passion for youth in our community and for several years now she has been leading the charge to expand Campus Recreation's youth programs at the facility. Just this past summer, A-Camp, our recreational-based summer day camp, had some of its largest numbers ever.  

Erin has worked with youth for many years. Shortly after graduation, she worked at the Catalina Foothills School District with after school and childcare programs. Erin was involved in coordinating many activities like a chess club, healthy eating group, dinosaur classes, all of which are STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Math) based.  

Before joining Campus Recreation, Erin was a camp counselor for Fenster Ranch Summer Camp here in Tucson, served as a Care Assistant, worked at a preschool, and coordinated enrichment programs for children.  With these experiences and much more, Tinker developed a strong passion for working with youth. 

“I have a passion for kids. They say what they are feeling, and I just love that. I love watching them change and grow,” Tinker says.  

Each summer during A-Camp, Erin oversees a staff of 50 student employees along with 150 kids each session. During A-Camp, Tinker is also known as the “Camp Mom”. 

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Youth Team photo
Erin with her A-Camp Student Counselor staff in 2018

Training A-Camp counselors goes on for days and finding the best counselors for her A-Camp students is a serious mission for Tinker. “For the right staff, there has to be a willingness to engage with kids. I have to find the right personality. Someone that is not afraid to be judged,” Tinker expressed. 

Throughout the years working with kids, Erin has developed a few favorite A-Campers. “Tyler” is one of those special kids that Erin met years ago while working. Tyler has Muscular Dystrophy, and over the years Erin and Tyler have establish a wonderful camper/counselor relationship. “Seeing Tyler’s growth was amazing over the years,” Tinker said.  

Erin has now taking on the role of program administrator beyond that of counselor. This opportunity gives her responsibility for the overall organization and staffing of camps rather than directly working with the children. Tinker is learning that being an administrator is a bit different, but she has certainly met the challenge. 

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River Day photo
Erin with kids on a field trip at the Sabino River

The Garland, Texas native is working on her master’s degree in Family and Human Development through Arizona State University online and plans to graduate in 2020. “I love the setting of Campus Rec and someday will be looking for an assistant director position in this area.” Tinker indicated. She even looks forward to the day when her own children can be part of the camps that she is the administrator for.  

Erin plays sand volleyball in her free time away from Campus Recreation and loves to dance. “I’m very extroverted. I love being around family and friends.” Erin expressed   

One day, she would like to try skydiving. “I would need to surrender myself completely to my instructor and I think that I could do that” she stated with a smile. “It’s just one of the things on my bucket list.”  

-Troy

To learn more about youth programs here at Campus Recreation:  https://rec.arizona.edu/youth-family

We were very busy last week at Campus Recreation…we had the honor of welcoming Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. The governor made the trek down to Tucson to help us reveal our brand-new Golf Simulator!

The Golf Simulator is a project that was initiated at the Disability Resource Center (DRC) by Peter Hughes, the Athletic Director with Adaptive Sports. Many months ago, Peter called and told me that he wanted to explore a special project with Campus Rec. Peter ask if we would be interested in collaborating with the DRC on a golf simulator.  

After several weeks of deliberating and researching, we decided to develop a new golf simulator in an underutilized racquetball court. Campus Rec and Adaptive Athletics are both sponsoring this project, and the Adaptive Golf team will get to use the simulator for practices. 

The simulator brings great potential to Campus Recreation. It provides Rec users with more opportunities as well as an additional program for our Sports component. Policies and procedures, rental costs, equipment, and other important information will be announced very soon. 

On Tuesday, September 24, Governor Ducey and his staff, along with President Robbins and his team, were on hand for the formal dedication ceremony. Having these men at our facility to celebrate the opening was a wonderful experience. The simulator was not the only reason they visited the University of Arizona Campus Recreation. The other reason was to thank the governor for a bill that was providing funding for the Adaptive Sports programs in Arizona. The University of Arizona is the only university in the state that offers Adaptive Sports teams. 

The intent for this bill is to get more team-organized programs within the state and encourage individuals with disabilities to play sports. Last Tuesday was a day of celebration for the accomplishment, hard work, and effort behind this bill, and to remind everyone that individuals involved in adaptive sports programs deserve the same opportunities as any other sport. Arizona State is showing interest for adapted sports teams. We hope in the long run this bill will “stimulate” other universities in Arizona to move forward and create opportunities for adaptive sports teams as well. 

Campus Recreation is very proud to collaborate and be partners with the DRC. Many of the adapted teams practice at the REC (Student Recreation Center); they hold tournaments here, and call us “home”.

Adaptive Sports teams on campus include men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball, quad rugby, tennis, golf, track and field, and hand cycling. Many of these individuals are students of the University and most are balancing a full-time academic load while participating in the sports they love.

With news media cameras rolling and dignitaries like local car mogul Jim Click on hand to watch and encourage, Adaptive Sports teams for rugby and basketball put on exhibitions, answered questions, and showcased what it’s like to be adaptive sport athletes. Lots of learning happened last Tuesday morning and it was all a very positive and rewarding day! 

In the coming weeks when we officially open the door, I invite you to come try the simulator located on the second floor of the REC (Student Recreation Center at 6th and Highland). We are truly proud of all the accomplishments we are making for the Campus Rec.   

-Troy

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Photo of Troy & Thresa
Troy and Thresa Vaughn at the Tower Challenge 9.11.19

The 911 Tower Challenge Foundation pays tribute to the lives lost on 9/11/2001 and honors the incredible bravery of our first responders and military. The foundation challenges active, former, and retired first responders, military, public safety supporters, and their friends and family to climb 2071 steps representing the 110 floors of the Twin Towers every year on the anniversary of 9/11. I was honored to participate in this event along with 1600 other Tucsonans, including Campus Rec staff members and my wife Thresa. 

To start the day, we began with a ceremony featuring guest speakers discussing the fateful events that occurred the morning of 9/11 in New York City, Shanksville, PA and Washington, DC. Unfortunately, 343 first responders perished that morning – many inside of the World Trade Center Twin Towers – trying to help others escape.

At the event, each participant was assigned a victim of 9/11 to commemorate; I was assigned firefighter Lawrence Virgilio of Squad 18. “Larry” was 38 years old the morning he entered the North Tower. He had a girlfriend, a dog, and a family that cared for him very much. 

My job was to crisscross the Arizona Stadium twice, climbing up and down the stairs; twice around the rim of the stadium equals the climb of the rescuers up the towers.  As I climbed up and walked down, I came across Larry’s photo on the south end of the stadium – the foundation had organized a display of photos of the first responders who lost their lives on 9/11.

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Larry Virgilio
Lawrence “Larry” Virgilio of Squad Company 18 FDNY

I had never heard of Larry Virgilio. In fact, I didn’t even know if I was pronouncing his name correctly. When I was given the place card with his name, I remember wondering, “did he go by Larry?” As we bowed our heads in remembrance that morning, I thought about Larry’s family… was he engaged? Did he have any brothers or sisters? 

As we began our ascent, I was in awe of the number of firefighters climbing with us. Many of these men and women had on full packs. Many had on masks. I felt an incredible sense of honor knowing I was doing something much greater than myself. 

Sure, my legs ached after a while. I climbed slower than most. Walking down the long steps on the west side of the stadium was actually harder for me than climbing up (different muscle groups). When I was about a third of the way in, I noticed a female firefighter - she was carrying a full pack and was really struggling. She had on a coat, an oxygen tank, and other items that were really weighing her down. I watched her push through though, one step after another – all 90 of them on the west side. I thought to myself what it must have been like for those brave first responders to climb the steps of the towers that terrible morning. 

Over the course of the two-hour event, I saw policemen, I saw firefighters, I saw students, and I saw hundreds of community members – all climbing, all doing this for the 343. 

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Photo of Troy with Larry Sign
Troy finds Larry Virgilio on south end of Arizona Stadium

When I reached Larry’s photo, I stopped and sat down. I said a prayer for him and thanked him for his courage and sacrifice. Larry was a former physical therapist who wanted to serve. Larry was selfless. Like the hundreds of others, Larry charged into that tower with only one goal: to help others. 

They found Larry’s body four days after 9/11, covered by the rubble of the fallen towers. He was buried on September 20, 2001. 

I finished and received a commemorative coin for my efforts. Finishers had the opportunity to walk onto the field and shake the hand of a high level public safety official and announce the name of the first responder we were representing. The gentlemen whose hand I shook told me to never forget; I proudly announced “Lawrence Virgilio” as I rang that bell.  

Thank you, Larry, and thank you to all first responders. You are some of the bravest men and women the world will ever know. 

-Troy

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Photo of Arizona Stadium
1600 people walked to remember the 343 and others

Many people get confused about the term “club sports”.  Collegiate Club Sports exist to promote and develop an interest in a variety of sports and/or physical activities. Some clubs are competitive, and some clubs are not. Some clubs travel all over the country, while others do not. Some are instructional; some require you to already have developed a certain skill set. Some clubs charge dues; some clubs fundraise. You get the idea: every club sport here at Campus Rec is different. 

We currently have 29 active clubs and approximately 1000 student-athletes. Campus Rec provides clubs with practice and game spaces, athletic training services, equipment, travel guidance, advice on risk management procedures, and more. Here at Campus Rec, we dedicate two full-time staff members and an entire department to sport clubs. 

However, it’s also important to recognize the great student-athletes who make up these clubs and the sacrifices they make. Let’s take a look at a typical club sport team member:

  1. They may have played the sport in high school OR this may be their first time playing the sport.
  2. They are NOT on athletic scholarships; even athletes on the most competitive club sports do not receive scholarships. 
  3. They practice just as hard as PAC12 athletes.
  4. Many of our club sport teams are nationally ranked: Synchronized Swimming is a 2019 national champion, Men’s Rugby is nationally ranked, and Hockey is a conference champion and national finalist. The list goes on and on.
  5. I bet you would be surprised to learn that many club members pay to participate, and the cost isn’t cheap. The Hockey team requires each player to pay over $2,000 a year! However, club sport fees go toward travel, equipment, uniforms, and more. 
  6. Student-athletes on the team manage the fundraising, finances, scheduling, reservations, travel arrangements, equipment, and more. Club sports are led by the students – and that’s how it should be!
  7. Club sports have dedicated coaches of all ages and backgrounds; many of whom actually act as unpaid volunteers to the club. 
  8. Some club teams practice 5-6 days a week, 2-3 hours daily - that’s upwards of 18 hours a week! Even though many club members commit an extensive amount of time to the sport, many club teams still maintain very high GPAs. 

…I think you get the drift. 

Over the past few years, Campus Rec has made many improvements to club sports, including:

  • Upgraded field spaces and improvements to lighting, seating, etc. 
  • Collaborations with on-campus and off-campus groups for more field spaces
  • An additional $10,000 budgeted to club sports 
  • Extending athletic trainer staff to increase game supervision and medical assistance 
  • Administrative improvements to travel, equipment, uniforms, etc. 
  • An increase in sponsorships from the Tucson community in support of club sports 

Most students are not aware that we have a Quidditch team, they haven’t heard of our Badminton team, haven’t met any of our skilled archers, or even witnessed our dedicated Rugby players fight it out on the field. Students would be even more surprised to hear that Campus Rec has negotiated special facilities for teams like Equestrian, Rodeo, Fencing, and Ballroom.

All club sport student-athletes are students first and foremost. Few, if any, will go on to become professional athletes. However, every one of these students has a love and passion for their selected sport or activity. They are just as passionate as a full-time athlete, study just as hard, and might even have to travel just as far. Club sports members’ weekends are often booked with games, and the love they have for their teammates is unmatched. I see this daily and it is something I am very proud of. 

This year, take the time to go out and support these incredible student-athletes! Hockey is offering FREE Student Tickets this year for their 1pm games! It’s also easy to support our other club sport teams at their on-campus games (or games close to campus). Come and cheer them on with me – Men’s Lacrosse plays on Sitton Field THIS SATURDAY, meet me there!

For a full and complete schedule of club events or to just learn more, visit rec.arizona.edu/sports/club-sports.

-Troy

You may have noticed some new additions to the REC recently, including several new recycling/trash combo-containers surrounding us here at 6th and Highland. You just might have missed these containers if you aren’t looking out for them. 

Being relatively new to Tucson (about 14 months now), one thing that still shocks me about Tucson is the amount of trash I see outside.  Arizona is beautiful, with gorgeous mountains, valleys, and plant life all over and yet I often see piles of trash lying about—a wrapper here, a bottle or candy bar wrapper there. Seeing litter throughout the streets has always irked me.  I try my best to pick up trash when I see it. 

As I’ve noted on the blog before, Campus Rec is committed to sustainability. We are doing a lot to reduce the amount of waste we put in landfills by recycling whenever and wherever we can. We have a long way to go, but we are working on it by providing our patrons with these new recycle/trash containers around the facility. 

A couple times a week, I will take a walk around the REC and pick up trash; I don’t mind, I actually enjoy doing it. Many times, I will take two bags with me and divide recyclables and trash. I noticed many months ago that we had no trash cans or recycle containers around the perimeter of the Rec Center. The closest one to the REC is at the bus stop, and it doesn’t even belong to the University of Arizona; it is the responsibility of the City of Tucson.  However, I choose to empty the bus stop’s trash container anyway as the city takes forever to change the bag out. We often find ourselves each week picking up the trash around it because of how overfilled it gets. 

Many mornings I walk to the REC along 7th Street, behind Mansfield Middle School. Each morning I notice a large amount of trash and plastic bottles lying on the curb or street near the school. This morning, I grabbed the bottles from the sidewalk (6 in all) and carried them to our NEW recycle/trash combo-containers located around the building.   

I am not sure if this trash is the result of the middle school students, afternoon practices on the fields, or the courts across the street, but it is always there, and usually pick it up. I need to talk to the folks at Mansfield and get their help on this! 

Now I don’t have too much to complain about.  Our grounds crew here at the REC is extraordinary. Our custodians are top notch. But it would be great – just great – if one day I could walk into the REC or around it and see our new recycle/trash containers serving their purpose and keeping our beautiful campus waste-free. 

The most common excuses I hear from people are:

  • “It’s windy in Tucson”
  • “Students don’t care and will throw trash all over”
  • “There’s not enough recycle bins or trash bins around”
  • “That’s what we pay custodians for”

It is complete nonsense. Those are just excuses. To reduce our trash issues, WE must take control. WE must bend over and pick up something we see. WE must let folks know how important it is to pick up our waste so WE can keep our environment as clean as possible.  

With football season around the corner, the time for tailgates, parties, and games fast approaches. Support the Wildcats in any way you can, but remember to clean up after yourself. Bring a trash bag with you and keep it in your car to help reduce the amount of trash being thrown about. Place cans and bottles in a recycle container. It doesn’t take much–taking just a minute or two of your time can seriously go a long way.

According to thebalancesmb.com, the “decomposing timeline” for popular items we handle each day is much longer than you think:

Another shocking item on the list is those typical plastic bags you get at a local grocery store, which take 1,000 years to decompose!!! Wow! That is really hard to imagine. All of the plastic bags we see daily and use all the time have a truly devastating impact on our landfills and environment. 

So, the next time that you see that crushed water bottle laying on the ground or watch a plastic bag fly about in the afternoon Tucson breeze, I hope you will think twice and remember to do the right thing – pick it up and dispose of it properly, and if you are near the REC, make sure to do so using the new recycle/trash combo containers. 

-Troy

 

Sean Duffy has been the right-hand man for men’s rugby here at the University of Arizona for four years now. He was recently named Director of Rugby and has been given the added responsibility of assisting the Arizona women’s rugby program in recruiting and consultation. What is even more interesting to look at is Sean’s path to arrive at the University – a path that has taken many twists and turns over the years. 

Sean was exposed to the sport of rugby at the age of 5 while living in Singapore with his Navy family. By the time he returned to the states, residing in Washington DC, Duffy was already a pretty good football player. In fact, he was so good in high school that he received several offers for scholarships at the Division II level and was even offered some opportunities to walk on to Division I teams. 

Sean attended St Joseph’s in the heart of Philadelphia and received accolades and honors as a player. Although a shoulder injury would cut short his career as an athlete, he still tried to stay as close as possible to the sport he loves. He entered graduate school at St. Joseph’s and while studying and working as a graduate assistant, he began to assistant coach rugby at the same time. “I so wanted to coach in college. I realized that I could be a better coach than a player. I was really undersized,” stated Duffy.

After a few years, Duffy started to look around for opportunities to head coach rugby, but was turned away by many programs who stated he was too young. In the fall of 2014, an alumnus called Duffy and asked him if he’d ever been to Arizona. The alumnus told him about an opening at the University.

Many don’t know it, but our great University has a long tradition in rugby; former coach Dave Sitton (of the REC’s Sitton Field!) is in the Rugby Hall of Fame and many Arizona players have gone on to play professionally and/or coach throughout the country.

Sean was still coaching in Philadelphia when he was contacted by Arizona. “I was asked to come for an interview, but we were in playoffs so I turned them down. After we were eliminated, they brought me out.” As part of the interview, Duffy was asked to lead a practice. “My tryout was like a cooking contest,” he said. “I didn’t know if I was giving them enough or too much. I just didn’t know.”

Whatever Duffy did, it worked, and soon after he was named coach of the Arizona Men’s Rugby team, a role he has held ever since. Since his hiring, Duffy has led the team through international trips, has had several All-American athletes, increased the number of men playing rugby, and strengthened the publicity of the Arizona program. The team has been nationally ranked in recent years and has had very successful seasons as of late. 

Sean’s analogy for coaching is that it is like 'brushing your teeth'.  Sean says that communication is key for coaches, and when mentoring younger coaches, Sean asks them how they 'brush their teeth'.  Some can explain the details and specifics very well, while others cannot; those who cannot, do not make good coaches.

Regarding his promotion, Duffy told me, “It’s a big commitment made by the University to recognize rugby in the way that Arizona has. This is a fast-growing sport and I am hoping other universities make the same commitment as Arizona has with this position.” 

A new addition to his role will be to assist the women’s rugby team in a variety of ways. An excellent recruiter, Duffy has already begun recruiting young women around the country and around the world to join the women’s program here at Arizona. I am confident he will assist the Arizona men’s and women’s rugby teams in any manner he can to make them stronger. 

-Troy

 

 

More information on the men’s and women’s rugby teams can be found at:

Most people view bugs as a nuisance; there’s one guy at Campus Rec who relishes in the opportunity to get up close and personal with little insects; specifically, with their wings. Ric Nielsen, Senior Graphic Designer at Campus Recreation, creates works of art by scanning insect wings, resulting in an absolutely stunning final product. 

Called “scanography,” Ric makes artwork by scanning sets of wings from bugs he catches or finds. He scans their wings at a very high resolution, enlarging the details and framing mother nature’s incredible patterns. Ric only uses insects found in Tucson for his work and has created over 100 pieces. It all started in a classroom five years ago - he was teaching graphic design and saw a dead bee in the corner of the classroom. He picked it up, plucked its wings off, placed them in a scanner, and enlarged for detail. “I once saw a bug on the window of a local Taco Bell. I put a cup over it and used it,” stated Nielsen. Ric has also collected bugs on camping trips and has even been brought unique insects by friends and family! 

When the rest of us look at an ordinary cockroach, we run for a can of Raid. Nielsen runs at the cockroach, as cockroaches have “some of the most beautiful wings.” Another surprising source for Ric’s art is the tarantula wasp. “One of the most beautiful and most dangerous are the tarantula wasp and tarantula hawk wings. I’ve not been stung yet, but I am really careful in handling them. I usually handle all of the wings I use with tweezers,”says Nielsen. 

Ric’s dedication to his art is remarkable…the tarantula wasp not only has the second most painful sting of all wasps, but…ready for a gruesome detail? A “tarantula wasp” is actually the product of a wasp paralyzing a tarantula and laying an egg in it. Gross!  

As the father of five and grandfather to 10, Ric splits his time between Campus Rec, his art, and his family. You can see him at shows throughout the Tucson area selling his art for around $300 to $1,000 apiece. On average, it takes Ric about 15 hours to create one piece – first finding the bug, then scanning its wings and enlarging the patterns. He also creates the artwork’s framing from scratch, sometimes using saguaro cactus ribs as his frame! Talk about a dedicated Tucsonan.  

For the next couple of weeks, you can see some of Ric’s art displayed in The Oasis at the REC (6th & Highland) near the locker rooms. For questions or comments, contact Ric Nielsen directly at ricnielsen7@gmail.com or view his website at ricnielsen.com.

-Troy

 

One thing that we here at Campus Recreation are very proud of—the number of student employees working for us. As one of the largest employers of students on campus, with 500 to 600 student employees expected this fall semester, we feel that we hire the “best of the best”.  And believe me, we have some amazing young men and women who work for us. 

As I have mentioned before, Campus Recreation gives back around $1,000,000 each year to students. This money is used for tuition, living expenses, car payments, insurance and much more.  It is money well spent.  Let me tell you about some of our incredible student employees, and what they have accomplished while working for Campus Recreation.  We have student employees who… 

  • Carry 20 credit units, major in difficult academic areas, and still manage to work 25 hours a week.
  • Participate in ROTC, who are up well before most of us in the morning to do their ROTC duties, then attend classes, come to work, and do homework, only to do it all over again the next day. Their discipline is amazing and I am inspired each and every day. 
  • Work another job off campus, carry a full load of classes, and then come to work daily at the REC.
  • Are firemen and paramedics. These first responders do amazing work for us here in the REC and in our community. 
  • Are nationally-certified fitness instructors, who spend a ton of money on crafting their leadership skills in additional training just to make their classes are safe, accessible, and fun for all patrons.
  • Save lives…literally, save the lives of our patrons. It has happened in our pool, and in our facility this past spring. The students involved are so humble. One of them told me recently, “I was just doing my job.” Patron safety is the ultimate job and we take it very seriously. 
  • Spent eight hours daily with A-Camp and instructed kids with Arizona Youth University (AYU) this past summer. These students showed unbelievable patience and excitement. Truly, some of the best that UA has to offer. 
  • Are trip leaders, taking patrons into the wild, leading them on adventures and experiences they thought they would never have or accomplish. They create memories for our patrons that will last a lifetime. 
  • Keep the pool clean; they clean up bathroom spills on the weekends, pick up trash in and around the facility just to make sure our patrons have a comfortable and safe place to visit.
  • Handle payroll and demonstrate excellent customer service.  They work closely with thousands of members and visitors each year to make the Campus Recreation experience better and better. 
  • Work special events, talk to prospective parents/students, give tours, and showcase the best that we have to offer every day. 
  • Are disciplined, adhere to Campus Rec and UA policies and procedures. Some days they are yelled at, cursed at, talked down to, and made to feel like crap. Yet, they show up to work the very next day with a smile on their faces.  
  • Are diverse and bring uniqueness to Campus Recreation.  

But most of all, our student employees care! They care about your experiences as a patron. They care about making your involvement with Campus Recreation a good one. 

Don’t get me wrong, no staff is perfect. We also have student employees that don’t show up on time or at all for work shifts. Like any other workplace outside of the UA, those students are disciplined or even fired. Campus Recreation has high expectations of our student employees, probably more so than most areas on campus. But that’s something we are proud of as well. 

-Troy

Campus Recreation is HIRING for the fall!  Visit rec.arizona.edu/jobs for more information on the positions we are hiring for! 

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Group of student staff from 2018.
Group of student staff from 2018.

Campus Recreation recently took another step in diversifying the Student Recreation Center (The REC) by adding a new display in one of the main hallways. 

The Arizona: Home to 22 Sovereign Nations” display was completed on August 2, 2019 to celebrate all the sovereign native tribes within Arizona. These are represented by large tribal seals encircling a map of the State of Arizona. 

This is the second phase of Campus Recreation’s effort to celebrate our University’s diversity in both students and staff. We are pleased to recognize the sovereign lands and wonderful cultures that will continue to be honored by this display.  Adding to the 160+ international flags we have on display to celebrate our world culture, the Sovereign Nation display has the seals of almost all of the native groups in Arizona. The process took over ten months and included numerous communications to complete the display. Campus Rec staff members Tara Watson and Ric Nielsen along with student employee Grace Faerber worked tirelessly to research and design the final display, and we thank them for their time and dedication on this special project. Campus Rec also sends a special thank you to UA Tribal Relations Assistant Vice President Karen Francis-Begay and her staff for their help and support, and to the all the tribal leaders for their participation in this noteworthy project. 

Our goals for this project were:

  • To educate and inform the UA community of our tradition and history, as one of the most widely used facilities on campus.
  • To bring awareness and understanding to all patrons of the names of the sovereign tribes.
  • To continue to foster and celebrate diversity here at the UA and to make all individuals feel comfortable in coming to The REC. 

Campus Recreation is tied very strongly to the overall University diversity plan, and we have a new statement regarding diversity and inclusivity. It simply states:

We believe a healthy, active and engaged lifestyle is a right afforded to everyone.

In these recent and sometimes difficult times across our country, it may seem more people need to recognize and appreciate diversity and inclusivity. At Campus Recreation, we are proud to embody these values and share a welcoming environment with our patrons each and every day. 

-Troy

I was having a discussion just this week with a staff member on campus and she asked me about what we had to do to open up a new building. Honestly, it was hard to answer her. There is SO MUCH my team is doing right now to prepare for the opening of a new recreation facility.

If you’ve been in a box or not around for the last couple of years, Campus Recreation is opening up the new NorthREC recreational facility on Monday morning, August 26.  This facility is located as part of the Honors Village  and is located north of Speedway at Mabel & Freemont, with the physical address being 1001 E Mabel Street. 

For some great insight on the new NorthREC facility, the link below will tell you a bit more about our new facility coming: https://rec.arizona.edu/north-rec

Work on this project began three years ago. My team started the process over two years ago.  As I was researching this article, I “loosely” counted up the number of staff hours that we have spent, just with CREC staff on the new facility in the past 2-3 years. The number astounded me…. 

2,150 hours!

Wow. That’s literally 89 TOTAL 24-hour days. 

So you may ask how we came up with this number. Well, it took some doing on our part, but here is the way we tracked this:

  1. Notes dating back to 2016 on discussion and processes. Staff involvement was charted with this. 
  2. Many focus groups with students, staff, and community members early on in the process.
  3. Over 30 tours of the construction site incorporating over 145 individuals.
  4. Dozens of meetings at the construction site, telephone communications with construction staff, vendor meetings and presentations, meetings with city and university officials, facilities management, etc. 
  5. Construction meetings at the trailer site (starting in 2018) with numerous Campus Rec staff. 
  6. Preparatory meetings with several members of our CREC team that include marketing and promotions, facility operations, Shake Smart planning and operations, Residence Life meetings, Parking and Transportation, Campus Health/CAPS, the Honors academic folks, and many more campus entities.
  7. Presentations for many campus organizations as we have entered 2019. 
  8. Higher level administrative meetings with UA administrators.
  9. And a slew more….

Is 2,150 exact? No way, but it’s pretty close. As of this writing (July 26), we are gearing up for final walk-throughs, fitness equipment trainings and deliveries, tours, and operational discussions. I expect to add approximately another 1,000 labor hours to the 2,150 above. This doesn’t even include many of the special events related to the opening we have planned for campus. 

This is a facility of approximately 50,000 square feet. Can you imagine what the planning is for a facility much larger? Case in point – we are involved in the new Student Success District/Bear Down Gym meetings and have already put in dozens of hours for this project (expected 2021). This facility and complex will be much larger, so much more to do moving forward.

Can you imagine what a huge hospital or complex creates for staff working on this? 

I have to personally thank the staff with American Campus Communities (Bill, Joe, and Tony), Okland Construction, (Jesse, Tony, Jordan, Eric, and others), Marathon Fitness (Suzanne) and especially, Ralph Banks with the UA Planning, Design and Construction area. Thank you for your dedication and efforts in this project!

We are less than a month out to opening. The facility is beautiful. The grounds will be amazing, and we truly think this complex and facility will add so much to the north side of campus. Do yourself a favor and check it out after August 26. 

2,150 hours so far and counting.  A special dedication and thanks to the CREC team that has put in so much hard work to make this facility a reality. I cannot personally name all of you – you know who you are. THANK YOU for going above and beyond. 

-Troy

When you think of the word “sustainability”, many times people don’t understand the full implications of the term. Here at Campus Recreation, we are making an effort to look and examine this word more closely and completely. I found a great description of sustainability from our fellow Pac-12 school UCLA:

“The physical development and institutional operating practices that meet the needs of present users without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, particularly with regard to use and waste of natural resources. Sustainable practices support ecological, human, and economic health and vitality. Sustainability presumes that resources are finite, and should be used conservatively and wisely with a view to long-term priorities and consequences of the ways in which resources are used.”

What does a recreation center have to do with sustainability? You come here to play, have fun, work out, condition, and be social. But think about this:

  • How much energy does it take to run a 230,000 square foot building? 
  • How much water is used in our pool?
  • How do we conserve resources? 
  • How do we protect patrons?
  • What are the practices we utilize to be more “sustainable”?

Last fall, we put together a group of student employees here at the REC along with our Facility Manager Robert Rodriguez to meet every month and discuss the many ways that sustainability impacts Campus Recreation. This group led a variety of projects that were either completed last year or are currently in progress, including:

  1. Waste audits in certain areas of the REC, which consists of trash sorting and measuring our waste. This allows us to see what is most commonly trashed so we can make improvements. 
  2. Offering Raw Elements all natural, environmentally friendly sunscreen to patrons going out and using the pool or any outdoor facilities in Campus Recreation.
  3. Our first Green Fund-sponsored project, which will add sensors to all racquetball courts. The sensors will turn off lighting in courts with no activity. We are also adding LED lighting to these courts.
  4. Replacing more ineffective bulbs that cost more and use more energy to run, with cost and energy effective LED lights throughout the REC.
  5. Complete replacement of field lighting at Rincon Vista and moving to LED lighting, which is much more efficient than the previous system lighting.
  6. A ramped up recycling program that increases our daily recycling output instead of pushing these items to landfills.
  7. Through the design and construction process, the new NorthREC facility in the Honors Village will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified upon opening late August. This means that this building is constructed using a green building rating system. Available for virtually all building project types, from new construction to interior fit-outs and operation & maintenance, LEED provides a framework that project teams can apply to create healthy, highly-efficient, and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement that we are proud to have at both recreation centers on campus. (USGBC.org)
  8. A revamping of how we use items in break rooms and kitchens, such as removal of single use plastics and only using reusable materials like silverware and ceramic dishes. 
  9. Composting waste food items.

… and much much more. 

The commitment that Campus Recreation has made has led to the formation of a Sustainability Work Team, where professional staff members and students work together to develop projects and strategies to allow recreation programs and facilities to be more sustainable. We are truly excited about our future in this area. As we look forward to a new school year, this group will be working hard to identify new ways to assist our environment, our campus, and our world. 

If you have something you would like to share or want to become involved, please do not hesitate to reach out to us and let us know! 

-Troy

When I came to interview for this position over a year ago, I saw that Campus Recreation was advertising an outdoor trip to Alaska. While not an uncommon type of excursion for a University, sending students on an Alaskan adventure was a first for Campus Recreation. Most of the group flew to the 49th US state last weekend and are currently in the Alaskan wilderness, where they will be until July 1st.

I have colleagues from other schools that would organize international trips such as backpacking in Europe, spending a week on a ranch in the Australian back country, and even a trip to Nepal to climb in and around the Mt. Everest area. These trips are exciting opportunity for students to create memories and experiences that they will carry with them forever.

I am so proud of the Campus Recreation staff leading this trip– Assistant Director Andrew Huff and Coordinator Clif McIntosh. Both of these men are knowledgeable outdoorsmen and have experience with guiding students on such trips. They will be leading the six participants through some unforgettable experiences, such as hiking on trails near Palmer, Alaska, glacier crossings, looking at wildlife, and enjoying the areas around Anchorage, Alaska. June is a great time to see and explore this normally chilly wilderness, with temperatures reaching up to the high 60°’s.

One of the locations the group is visiting is the site of a B-29 that crashed in 1957 into what is now called “Bomber Glacier”. While several crew members perished in the crash, the site is now visited by several thousand hikers annually to view the memorial and to experience the tranquility of the area. There is a great series of videos that you can watch and see what this group has in store for their trip:

http://www.explorenorth.com/library/aviation/1957_tb29_crash.html

In planning such a trip, the precautions and safety aspects must be extensive. Crossing glaciers means that all participants must wear spikes to gain better footing. Specific gear is required when temperatures range in the 40’s at night to the 70’s during the day and weather conditions can vary between a mix of rain, snow, and even sunny weather. Appropriate clothing for all weather conditions is necessary. Each individual will have a pack that will weigh up to 40-50 lbs. It certainly isn’t a walk in the park, but it will be a true experience of a lifetime.

As attendees return next week, we will meet with them to receive a full recap of the trip and will detail these experiences and photographs in a future column. Our Outdoor Rec folks are looking at additional Alaska trips in the future, so if you were unable to register and go along this year, you will have chances in the years to come! 

With summer upon us, I want to take a few moments to update all of you on some news and projects in the works at Campus Recreation. Some of these projects have been on the books for months, but others are fairly recent. As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Front Desk/Entry Re-Design:       

Staff is working hard with Facilities Management to reorganize the front desk as you enter the Rec. We will add a second workstation to the front to assist with customer service and alleviate wait times. Additionally, new glass turnstiles will be added to replace the old rotating ones. The exit gates were recently moved to the north side of the desk, preventing the general public from using the restrooms behind the front desk. Only those entering the facility will be able to access them, thus increasing the safety and security of our patrons. 

Projected Completion: Desk – Winter break 2019; Turnstiles– Summer/Fall 2019

7th Street Entry Design Work:

We are collaborating with a local Tucson architect to improve the design for the south entrance of the facility on 7thStreet. Starting many months ago, Campus Rec staff looked at several options to improve flow and services for patrons that utilize the south entry to the Rec. A better check-in system, welcome desk and potential improvements in offices for Outdoor Rec staff are included in the project. Additionally, designers are looking at various locations to check for feasibility of adding an additional climbing wall that would be managed within the department. 

Projected Completion: Design work 6-8 months; Actual work – TBA (Funding dependent)

Golf Simulator: 

We are working closely with another department on campus to introduce a new golf simulator to the Rec for students and members. The golf simulator will be located on the upper level in the racquetball court next to the Cycle Studio. 

Projected Completion: August 2019

Trash/Recycle Bins/Sustainability Efforts:

Patrons will notice that we have a new sponsor with Campus Rec – RAW ELEMENTS (https://www.rawelementsusa.com/) is on board with us! This company is providing sunscreen dispensers for free use by patrons at outdoor venues, such as the pool and the sand volleyball court.  We welcome them aboard!

Additionally, the Green Fund has made it possible to install sensors in every racquetball/squash court. This will automatically turn lights off or on as patrons leave or enter the courts in the Rec, effectively saving energy! We are also adding permanent trash and recycling containers around the Rec to help in the efforts for recycling and trash removal. 

Projected Completion: Sensors – late summer 2019; Trash and recycling containers – Summer 2019

Billiards Table:

Based on requests from students and student staff, we have purchased a billiards table which is now located on the first level near the weight room. Pool cues and other equipment are available for free day rentals at Equipment Checkout (ECO).

Fixed Barbell and Olympic Bar Replacements/New Treadmills and Stationary Bikes:

Campus Recreation is replacing many of the fixed barbells and Olympic lifting bars in fitness areas this summer. To start with, we have replaced over 20 treadmills as well as bikes in the Cycle Studio. 

Projected Completion: Summer 2019

Weight Room TV Replacement:

Campus Recreation is replacing over 10 TV’s in the weight room areas. 

Projected Completion: Summer 2019

Lacrosse Netting @ Rincon Vista:

We are adding larger netting systems to enclose the recreation fields at Rincon Vista to prevent overthrows from lacrosse and other sports going into athletic fields. 

Projected Completion: Summer 2019

Electrical Work in the Outdoor Classroom off the Pool Deck:

To better serve the needs of our growing SCUBA program, we are making some electrical upgrades to assist with storage and filling of tanks on the pool deck. 

Projected Completion: Summer 2019

Staffing Updates:

Professional staff positions are filling up this summer with our new hires. Please say hello to our newest staff members as they arrive on campus this summer and fall: 

New Hires:

  • Assistant Director, Aquatics: Drake Belt (Loyola University) – started early June
  • Coordinator, Facilities: Curtis Rolhfs (Iowa State University) – started in late May
  • Coordinator, Facilities: Allison Einhouse (Northern Illinois University) – started June 10
  • General Maintenance: Ken Mackey – started in May

Positions To Be Filled:

  • Coordinator, Hockey Program – projected start Summer
  • Manager, Assessment and Communications – projected start Summer/Fall
  • Director of Rugby – projected start July 1
  • Senior Accountant – projected start July
  • Business Manager – projected start August 

As always, we welcome your input and suggestions. Please reach out to me at any time at troyvaghn@email.arizona.eduor 621-8707.

 

 

 

Springtime is one of the best times of the year. Flowers are in full bloom, the sun is out and warming the air, and the days are longer. In higher education, springtime means commencement and graduation. These important milestones are the reason why we are all here. The 10,000 employees of the University of Arizona share one common goal – helping and supporting students to the point of graduation. 

Professors have a strong impact on student success, helping them to reach the finish line…graduation. After all, classwork is the common core of a ‘student’ in any educational facility. As a student, the many exams, projects, study sessions, assignments, and others aspects involving school are commonplace. But life outside of the classroom is also key for students and student success. That is where Campus Recreation comes into play. 

Campus Recreation isn’t only a gym space for students to come for exercise or working out; it’s so much more than that. We are a social space, a space for calm, for wellness, for interaction, for relaxation and stress reduction, and probably our best asset…we are also great for LEARNING! 

Learning, you ask? We don’t have classrooms in the Rec. There are no professors teaching classes here, yet my staff is full of educators. Our education is not necessarily from books, but comes in the form of a pair of ears to listen; a way of teaching sensibility, maturity, knowledge, life-skills, balance, and so much more. Our classrooms are the front desk, managing an intramural basketball game, answering a telephone, teaching a group fitness class, or leading an outdoor trip. These are our classes, and we are proud to offer these learning and growth opportunities to our students. 

May is an incredibly sad time for me in knowing the relationships we’ve built with our senior student employees are coming to an end as they graduate. We have worked alongside them for a long time. We have listened to them, counseled them, guided them, and cared for them. In many cases, they have guided us as well. That’s what is so special about higher education. It affords an opportunity to see people grow, and that is what I love about my work. Students grow and mature with us, just as we grow and mature with them. 

I witness first-hand the importance of our work. Earlier this month, we closed the Rec center at 6:30p to have a formal awards presentation and meal for our student employees. There were a few awards and yes, the Illegal Pete’s dinner was great, but that is not the reason for the occasion. The motivation for having this ceremony for our students is to let them know and feel the appreciation that this staff has for them. Seeing student employees laugh, interact and take hundreds of photos was priceless. Some students may share academic courses together and have interactions, but my bet is that it’s not to the same magnitude that we saw at this event.  

“Family” is a word I commonly use to describe my staff and our interaction with students. Very few days are typically 8am-5pm at Campus Recreation. Early meetings, late activities, or nighttime events – you name it. That’s the life of someone working in Campus Recreation. Student employees work as early as 5:30am, or as late as 12:30am almost daily here. They run multi-million dollar facilities, they save lives, they provide excellent customer service, and they are the lifeblood of what we do. There are almost 500 student employees this year. And for many of them, the Rec is an essential part of their lives, as it is ours. 

Our role within the framework of the University is to provide these opportunities outside the classroom, as we have done for years here. The directors preceding me and those that come after my time will continue to provide the very best opportunities and services for all UA students. That’s our job. We treasure our roles and we treasure our students. 

But now, it’s May. Commencement time. A time to celebrate all of the hard work, personal and professional growth, the many accomplishments, and overall success. I look back at several of our graduating seniors or graduate students and I smile. I know that they made a difference in my life and I know that we made a difference in theirs. 

As a parent of two college students that go to school miles away from Arizona, I hope and pray that staff on their campuses care about them the way we do here. I hope they are provided the same tools and opportunities for success, engage in situations that foster growth and maturity, and the understanding that learning happens best outside of the classroom. I hope my own kids understand the attainment of a college degree is more than just a diploma framed on a wall. But that it’s about life and building and refining those skills you will use for the rest of your life. I can only hope that my kids are in as good of hands in their respective schools, as the students are here at the UA. 

During the past week, a few students have stopped by to pay me a friendly visit. Students in various roles who, in my short time here at the UA, have contributed something to this department. They all shared one common thing with me…that Campus Rec and my team of professionals added to their lives, and made them more prepared for what life holds for them after graduation. 

I smile knowing that we have accomplished our jobs. I smile knowing that while some worked for us just for the money that was paid to them, the vast majority worked here to learn and understand, and will use the experiences gained in Campus Recreation for the rest of their lives. Truly, that’s all we can do and hope for. 

I am so proud of my team. My professional staff spends so much time training and working with these students, and have enriched their lives in so many ways. Many of the professional staff truly enjoy the close working relationship we have with students. For me, this is a dream job to give back to these young people. 

So as commencement has come and gone, my thoughts are with those that have left us, starting their own lives, and making a difference in the lives of those around them. It’s truly an honor and privilege to be associated with all students and I feel I have the greatest job in the world. 

Con-“GRAD”-ulations 2019 graduates from the UA! We are excited for your futures and are thankful for what you have given to the greater UA community. 

I have one of the best office locations anyone could ask for. My office is located above the pool deck here at the Student Recreation Center. If gives me an opportunity to see much of the pool and to hear what is going on daily in the pool area. 

In the early spring, I heard two individuals encouraging a swimmer in the pool. There was music – the same song over and over again. It turns out the woman’s voice I was hearing was that of Coach April Stallworth. April, a Special Education teacher by trade here in Tucson, is a former UA swimmer and has been the head coach of our University of Arizona Synchronized Swimming Club Team for the past few years. Oh and by the way – they are also the two-time defending National Champions! The second title came about recently at the national meet in San Antonio, TX. 

“This title was really unexpected. We really had no idea of where we were going until the points were calculated at the end,” stated Stallworth. 

Recently, I met with Coach Stallworth and a few of the team members to understand their sport, the dedication it takes, the commitment it takes, but most importantly the sacrifice that the sport has on those that choose it.  

Syncho-1.png

UA Synchro Swimmers at the 2019 National Club Championships in San Antonio, TX
Coach April Stallworth UA Synchro Swimmers at the 2019 National Club Championships in San Antonio, TX

Team members Sydney Schmisseur (SR, Phoenix, AZ), Maggie Spooner (FR, Tucson, AZ) and Ayla Stallworth (SR, Tucson, AZ) were all there to describe what it takes to be involved in synchronized swimming, a sport that you may only see every four years in the Olympics, but has been doing very well here at the UA for the past two years. 

“Last year’s team was better than this one and the team we had before that should have won it,” stated Coach Stallworth. “The points just went our way this year. We scored well and that’s what matters most.”

The sport uses judges to score based on three areas:

  1. Difficulty
  2. Artistic Impression
  3. Execution

Now if this sounds a lot like gymnastics – well it is. Just because it is “synchronized SWIMMING” doesn’t mean the comparisons are made solely to swimmers. The main comparison is made to gymnastics, in which their themes are relevant and the language is much the same. “Synchronized swimming is a lot like gymnastics except you need to hold your breath. I don’t see gymnasts doing this,“ stated Spooner. 

These women practice five or six times weekly for a couple hours each day around classes. The practice and hard work paid off as they were crowned Team Synchro Sport Club Champions in 2019. They defeated University of Florida for the second consecutive year. The Gators had won 10 of the previous national titles. Senior Ayla Stallworth, Coach Stallworth’s daughter, was crowned the “Collegiate Athlete of the Year" for the past year. 

Unlike regular swimming, synchro swimmers are scored based on beats in the water and do movements based on those beats. They are in tandem to the music and they hear the music under water with the help of a speaker placed in the pool. Synchro swimmers wear makeup – lots of makeup while doing their routines. They tread water, and the conditioning and training regimen they must go through is very intense. “Imagine doing a full routine with a resistance belt on. It’s not that easy,” stated swimmer Sydney Schmisseur. 

Synchro-2.png

Celebrating a national club title, April 2019
Coach April Stallworth Celebrating a national club title, April 2019

“Synchro is a way of life for many of us. It’s a demanding and consuming sport. If you’re really into it, it can run your life,” stated Ayla Stallworth. The senior is prepping to be a nurse after graduation and has been one of the best synchro swimmers for many years.  She routinely competed against Schmisseur, and they usually went head-to-head at many meets over the years when they were younger. The University of Arizona brought them together and they each have been a huge part of the two national titles that these ladies have brought home to Tucson. 

“Synchro is a very unique sport. It’s a beautiful sport and you have to have a large amount of athleticism to perform at this level," stated Coach Stallworth. She added, “I’m so proud of this team and what they have accomplished.”

Ayla Stallworth doesn't regret swimming this long in a sport she loves and has been a part of her life for many years. “I have no regrets and the great thing is that I am going out on top,” she stated with a smile. Schmisseur had planned to go to Ohio State University after high school to do synchro, but it just didn’t work out. The Buckeyes' loss was the Wildcat’s gain and the future mathematician also has a unique view on the sport. “At times I hated it. Sometimes it was just too much. You remember the reason why you swam – because you love it. That is what always brought me back," stated Schmisseur. 

It was a small team – only a half dozen swimmers were on the team but all contributed to the win and championship. They did it even without having a team competition – where you need eight in the water at once performing. “We were strong in trio, duet, and solo, and that is where we scored our points,” stated Coach Stallworth. 

Synchro-3.png

UA Synchro Swimmers showing off the Wildcat at the National Championships, April 2019
Coach April Stallworth UA Synchro Swimmers showing off the Wildcat at the National Championships, April 2019

As one season comes to an end and they lose seniors who contributed to two national titles, the future looks bright for this synchro team. New Co-President Maggie Spooner knows a lot of hard work lies ahead for them, but she states she is up for the task of trying to become a three-time national titlist. “I am up for the challenge and excited for next year.”

 

Watch the team's performances at the national championships.

Back in the fall, the Marine Corps and other ROTC units celebrated the Marine Corps birthday on the UA Mall. Several groups gathered to celebrate and hear testimony of the history of the Marine Corps 243rd birthday. 

One Campus Recreation employee, Ryan Ring, was among this group. Ryan is a future marine pilot. He is also a leader, building manager for Campus Recreation and a dedicated fitness buff. Ryan rides motorcycles, and may be one of the most interesting students you will find on campus. Now every UA student has a story. We are certainly grateful for all of our students and student employees, but Ryan just may be cut from a different cloth. 

The Las Cruces, New Mexico nature came the UA four years ago on an ROTC scholarship. Once he graduates in a few short weeks, he has a busy schedule – his younger sister’s graduation, his own graduation and an officer commission in the Marines as a second Lieutenant, the best man in his friend’s wedding, and then a vacation a trip to Southeast Asia. 

But being busy is nothing new for Ryan. In fact, I believe he thrives on his schedule. Ryan adds, “I am usually up at 5am, in uniform with ROTC at 5:30am until 7 or 8. Classes after until 3pm or so, and then working in Campus Recreation after that for three hours.” His only free time comes in the late evening, but usually consists of homework to complete for his major in Accounting. 

Ryan was drawn to a career in the military after 911. “Patriotism was at all all-time high and I just remembered that.” He was also drawn into the history, heritage, and the way the Marines have been portrayed in the media through commercials. “What’s not to like about seeing that inform!”

After his vacation and graduation, Ryan will report to Quantico, Virginia, for a six month term. From there, he has a pilot contract with the Marines and will depart for training in Pensacola, Florida. While he is unsure what aircraft he will be flying, the Apache attack helicopter is something that he is drawn to. Ryan said he has always wanted to support infantry units, but he may be too small. “Some of the packs they carry are as big as I am,” he added. He went on to say “I want to do everything to support infantry. I’m a bit small to be in infantry, so this is the best way to support them.” Ryan may be a smaller guy, but he’s strong, a fitness buff who wrestled in high school at the 126 lb. weight class. 

As a Building Supervisor, Ryan works mostly in the evenings. His responsibilities are to manage the Student Recreation Center and its staff. “Working in Campus Recreation has made me be an independent leader. I like having the final say in some matters when pro staff are not around. It has taught me a lot!” Ryan went on to add that “Campus Recreation has a large focus on developing students. That’s why this position is not your normal campus job.”

As his last month as a student at the University of Arizona ticks by, Ryan may be seen around campus riding his motorcycle. He also enjoys hiking, backpacking or shooting in areas around Tucson. “I just like being outside.”

On any given weekend, Outdoor Rec and Challenge Coordinator Devon Chapman can be found involved in an array of things. She may be leading a trip of UA students in the backcountry, working on the Challenge course at Rincon Vista, or playing Ultimate Frisbee with friends and other UA students. Regardless, Devon is giving 100% to whatever she is doing at the time. 

Chapman was hired in the summer of 2018 as the third professional staff member in Outdoor Rec. While she assists with many trips and adventures for users, she also maintains and programs for the challenge course. 

The New Jersey native became interested in Arizona when she was in high school.  She learned of Arizona State because that’s where a friend was. But when she first came to the UA campus, she was immediately drawn into its beauty. “It felt more like a college campus than ASU,” Chapman indicated. 

As a sophomore majoring in political science, Devon started working for Campus Recreation as an A-Camp counselor and soon developed a passion for students. Soon after, Assistant Director Andrew Huff interviewed her for a position in Outdoor Rec. The interview was easy for her.

“The interview consisted of three questions! The first was what I had done in the outdoors. The second was about my major, and the last one asked if I was a Chaco’s or Teva person!”

Chapman answered “Chaco’s” (which should be noted, she wore during our conversation as well). “I guess they liked my answers because I was hired!” she stated. 

Soon after hiring, Devon learned a great deal. She became a rental gear attendant, trip leader, and worker with the Challenge program. A huge advocate for women in the outdoors, Devon would someday love to work in an environment where she could steer women and minorities into outdoor activities and the related educational aspects. 

This May, Devon will receive her master’s degree from the University of Arizona in Public Administration. She loves the analysis and statistical aspect of any job but wants to someday give back to a field that has given so much to her. 

“I would like to work with underprivileged children and minorities and someday create a program that shows the values of the outdoors for them.”  Her ideal opportunity would be to work with youth under the age of 18. For now, Chapman keeps busy with the array of activities on the Challenge course and trips offered by Outdoor Rec. 

Chapman and her boyfriend have two cats that keep them busy – Magz and Steph. Aside from that, you may see her playing Ultimate Frisbee, rock-climbing or backpacking in her free time. “If I want something intense or to feel the ebb and flow of something, I climb. I can go hard at it for 20 minutes, then take two hours to hang with my friends,” Chapman stated. She went on to add, “To backpack, I love the solitude of it. I really enjoy being away from everything and it gives me peace.” 

As someone who is graduating with another degree in early May, Chapman has some advice for other people looking for positions. “There are two things I can tell young people looking for jobs. The first is to select something that supports you emotionally and financially. The second is to do what you enjoy most out of life.” 

True words spoken from a young Campus Rec professional. You can reach out to Devon about anything Outdoor Rec by emailing her at dchapman1@email.arizona.edu

-Troy

When Leah Callovini was hired as a full-time staffer a few months back, she packed up her personal items and her pit bull “Peanut” and prepared for the 2,300 mile trip to Tucson. The soon-to-be-graduate with a Master’s Degree in Sport Business from Temple University is the newest staff member at Campus Recreation. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Leah has an undergraduate degree from George Washington University in Health Psychology. 

“I love how beautiful the facility is here. I come from a school with older facilities so this is a nice change for me,” stated Callovini. 

Leah got her start in fitness as an undergrad instructor with the George Washington Campus Recreation program.  As a full-time student and part-time instructor, she grew to love fitness aspects and personal training. She started as a pre-med major but soon realized that she was more interested in disease prevention rather than treatment. Thus, the change to fitness was a natural for her. 

“The best part of my day in my first position away from school was talking about fitness with a friend I worked with. I soon realized that I was happiest when I left work for the day to go teach fitness classes.” 

Callovini has a definite passion for fitness and wellness for the U A students and members of the Rec. But she also sees some major aspects in UA students that help her in her position as well. “Our students are super-motivated and driven. I enjoy working with them,” she stated. 

Leah also sees the addition of the new University of Arizona Recreation and Wellness Center opening later this summer on the north side of campus as a huge benefit to both students and Campus Recreation. “We are busting at the seams and the addition of the new facility will assist with this. This facility will allow us to do our job better,” she stated. 

Her adopted pit bull is her true pride and joy. Peanut is deaf and that certainly creates some challenges in being a pet owner. Peanut got her name from her love of peanut butter. Leah shares that same love, so the name was a perfect fit! 

Leah loves listening to podcasts and enjoys fitness-related activities in her spare time. She is also an active reader.  Her one piece of “fitness” advice to UA students? “Find what you enjoy doing every day and do what you love to do!”

-Troy

When I arrived on campus in late July 2018, I was made aware of a special program that is in place at the University of Arizona. The program is entitled “Project Search”. Run through components at Pima Community College and the University of Arizona, this program provides students in the Tucson area that have some developmental disabilities an opportunity to be exposed to internship opportunities on campus. We are incredibly fortunate to have these students on rotation through Campus Recreation and the Rec.

In my time here, I have seen this program flourish. With the help and guidance of leader Dan Habinek, the program continues to provide students an opportunity all over campus – the Rec, Athletics, the Student Union, and many more. I have seen first-hand the benefit to these students, but even more, I have seen how our own UA student employees grow to appreciate these students being in our building.

On a common day, you will see a Project Search intern working at our equipment desk. They will be folding towels, assisting patrons in answering questions, providing customer service aspects, or going on rounds with staff. Their smiles are infectious, their attitudes are impeccable, but most of all they are a part of us and we are 100% proud of that.

Project Search is a national program with groups in many cities and communities throughout the country. Hundreds and even thousands of students are enrolled within the program and it takes a special person to assist these students. Hundreds of staff, including many here in Tucson and at the University of Arizona, work with these students and the great Project Search staff to make the program work. And I’m telling you, it does work!

I met intern Anthony Lane last fall. Anthony is a quiet guy at first but the one thing I remember about him early on was his smile. I introduced myself to Anthony and I can remember he had a strong grip. He called me Mr. Vaughn and we talked sports for a few minutes. Throughout the fall semester, I would say hello to Anthony and see him often. Anthony was always busy – doing something all of the time. Keeping busy and providing services with the student staff. The student staff loves him. I see them talk and exchange discussions of the day. I overheard a young student employee discuss her classes one day with Anthony. Anthony was interested and asking questions about classes and what is was like.

Later in the fall, my staff put together an art fair. The art show was held in the Oasis here in the Rec Center and the pieces of art were made by individuals that had developmental disabilities. Each painting was posted in this hallway with a price. A fundraiser for the program, this formal art show was completed and parents, relatives, and friends of the artists came though on a Friday afternoon. The artists were in heaven. The day was about THEM and their artistry.

As I walked and admired these pieces (yes, I bought one that hangs in my kitchen at home!), I noticed that my friend Anthony had painted one; “Three Little Pigs: A Story About a Coyote & Javalina” was hanging on the right side wall. I noticed Anthony and met his very proud parents. His smile was ear to ear and he was so proud. He was portraying a piece of art in an art show.

Campus Recreation purchased this painting. It now hangs proudly in our PACR Conference Room on the second floor. It was the least we could do. Anthony is truly one of us and it deserved to remain in our facility.

A week or so ago, I saw Anthony in the building. I asked him to come with me and we went upstairs and looked at the painting mounted in PACR. I could not get over the smiles and the graciousness that he conveyed to me. The painting that he did will hang there with his photo and description for ever more. We are proud to have it and him as a part of the “Campus Rec Family!”

A WCHL conference championship, an 8-0 record with arch rival Arizona State, Anthony Cusanelli represented Team USA in Russia during the year, the conference player of the year in Bayley Marshall, a 31-8 overall record, and coach of the year…I’d say that was a good year. 

But for the coaches and players of the UA Hockey team, I bet they are very disappointed with the outcome of their tournament game against Liberty University last Saturday night in Frisco, Texas. While Arizona lost 7-2 and didn’t play their best, the drive to improve for next year is already going full steam ahead. 

One senior leaves – yes just one. While an important player, Charlie James graduates, the component of a nationally ranked team will return for the 2019/20 season. Optimism is certainly in the air. 

I was present in Frisco last Saturday. I was there with around 50 parents, relatives, friends of players, and others to see them play a really good Liberty team. The Wildcats jumped out to an early 1-0 lead and optimism was high after being tied 1-1 at the end of the first period. 

But the feel was in the air. One of our players had crashed the boards behind their goalie area and had broken the glass panel. After about an hour delay and some untimely penalties by our team, the Liberty lead quickly grew to 3-1 and the Flames never looked back. It ended a historic season for Arizona hockey. It ended in Frisco, Texas before an estimated crowd of around 1500 watching. It ended a long season of great accomplishments and great anticipation for years to come. 

But UA Hockey needs your help. We need alumni and student support to make this team and program even stronger.  While in Texas, I met several of the parents of the players. These parents sacrifice much for their kids to play. You see—this is a club program—no scholarships, no fancy sponsorships, nada. Just a ground of 30 players and three coaches (one paid, the other two volunteer) that love the game of hockey. Parents cheer, players cheer, but in the end they cannot be successful without the support of the community behind them. 

We have people that help us. The University has been a great contributor of financial resources to help in the past couple years and this will continue when the program moves back to Campus Recreation oversight starting next year. What we need are fans to support this team by buying tickets and packages to the TCC games starting in the fall. We need Hockey alumni and friends to step forward and help. Hockey does belong with Campus Recreation as we are a large component to overall recreation on campus. But we need your help in supporting this important program and not just because 30 college kids work hard daily with practices, studies, and pay $2,000 a year to play with the team (this on top of their fees for classes and such). 

Elite college hockey teams play at the NCAA Division I level. We are not one of them. Athletics is not supporting our hockey team. There’s nothing wrong with that, just that we don’t have the glitz and glamour of being an NCAA sport here with hockey. So we play at the highest club level possible. A level that involved travel of over 5,000 miles each season to play games, hotel stays, equipment needs, bus and plane rides, and the grind of being on the road a lot. 

These and other club teams like them are the ULTIMATE student athletes – they are club athletes. They love the game. They bleed for the game to just keep playing. 

Very few if any at this level will get a chance to play professionally. Some may and some will, but the percentage is low. These student athletes play for the fun of the game. The game is pretty pure at this level and this is something I witnessed last Saturday—first hand with parents dressed to the hilt in UA gear and players that fought hard each minute even though they weren’t getting any breaks.  

Sports clubs are the purest form of sport. We have almost 30 of them here at the UA. None of them get paid, all of them are students first, athletes second, and they all have one thing in common—the love of the game they perform in. 

Thanks to all of our athletes and club members but a special thanks to the UA Hockey team for making a dream season a reality for the fans. Optimism is high for next year. Fans—support this team and all sport clubs into the future. It’s sport in its purest form! 

-Troy

 

In a time when fewer and fewer people are wanting to become a sports official due to verbal abuse, parental issues, and many other reasons, one UA Student has stepped up and is making his dream a reality! 

Junior Michael Aguilar is not your typical student. The pre-law/political science major has been honored this year as a national official in the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) area. He leaves next month to represent the UA in Wichita, Kansas at the NIRSA National Championship Series, where is has qualified as an elite official. 

“I love being an ambassador for the game and I like keeping the game beautiful”, stated Aguilar. A former high school player at Rincon/University High School here in Tucson, Aguilar’s journey into officiating came about because of his need for a campus job. 

As a freshman and needing a position, Michael went to a job fair where he learned about opportunities in Campus Recreation. Soon after, he was training in both basketball and flag football. Aguilar added, “I found out that I was pretty good at it. My passion for it grew and I used it to give back to the community”.

Less than 1% of all campus recreation officials across the country qualify to officiate at a NIRSA Championship Series event. Aguilar has qualified in two different sports. He’s only one of a very select few to ever have achieved such a distinction. He has achieved this through hard work and dedication, but Aguilar also indicates that finding a mentor is always a key in trying to be a better official. “My officiating mentor is a big influence on me. She helps me all of the time.”

While passion, dedication, hard work, and good mentors are the driving force to move forward in officiating, Aguilar is trying to figure out a way to balance going to law school and officiating in the future. He’s looking at law schools now, aspiring to be a contract attorney. He would like to stay at the UA and attend law school here if given the opportunity, primarily for his established officiating contacts in this area. 

While being selected as a top intramural sports official is one thing, he is also out there officiating at all levels – adult leagues, kids, schools, and much more. His main goal in the near future is to start officiating at the junior college level. “They told me to cut my hair and gain 20 lbs. of muscle to get to that level…. I have the hair thing covered. The muscle is another story!” stated Aguilar. 

He will make the trip to Wichita to officiate the national championship series April 12-14. Dozens of teams, representing schools all over the country, will descend on Wichita for the event. “It’s a great thing for me to represent the University and Campus Recreation. It’s like a free basketball camp for me. It’s great to get varying opinions from many different evaluators there. I am really excited to be going!”

Aguilar represented the University at the Flag Football Championship Series this past January in Pensacola, FL. While he enjoys football, basketball officiating is his passion. He hopes to eventually make it to the NCAA Division I level. 

With qualities and talent like this, it’s easy to see why Michael Aguilar is a great example of the amazing group of student employees we have at Campus Recreation. Whether they officiate, swipe ID’s, lifeguard in a snowstorm, monitor a special event, or assist with clean-up, our 300+ student employees bring their A-Game each and every day at the Rec! Thank you ALL for your service for us!  

-Troy

It’s early March and we are about halfway through the spring semester so we wanted to get you all an update on some projects that we are working on/looking at for the semester:

Rincon Vista Lighting Project—Completed

All seven poles at Rincon Vista have been completed as of 3/9/19 and will be ready for play immediately. The lighting on the fields has improved 10-fold and we are excited to see reactions from users on the new lighting and conditions out there. We are just in time for our new intramural sports season as well! 

International Flag Display in the Student Recreation Center—Underway 

Users to the Rec are seeing over 150 flag wall stickers in the main hallway headed to the Weight Room. This is the start of a project that has been in the works for several month now. The project portrays representative flags for students that have attend the UA from all over the world. A world map corresponding the flag to what country they represent is coming soon as well as a tribute to the Native American tribes from Arizona. A formal ribbon-cutting for the project will take place on March 21 at 4PM in this area.  Special thanks to all of the Marketing and Design staff that have worked so hard on this project! Stay tuned as we get this project closer to completion! 

Honors Village Recreation Center—Progress Continues

The new Honors Village recreation facility on north campus is really moving. Dry wall is being completed and Campus Recreation is expected to take possession of the building in mid-July. The 52,000 square foot facility will directly serve individuals not only with the Honors Village, but all students and members on the north end of campus. This will be especially nice for those in the Business School, Law School, Health Sciences and the Medical School, and others. 

The facility will contain over 22,000 square feet of fitness and strength equipment contained on parts of three floors as well as studios on the third floor for group fitness, cycling, and personal training assessment. Additionally, a portion of the second floor is being shared with CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services). They will offer a fully functioning mental health center for our students, hiring additional professionals to assist in that process. 

Bear Down Gymnasium/Student Success District—Construction Begins!

As you may have noticed, demolition of the area to the south of Bear Down Gymnasium has commenced to make way for the new Student Success building. The parking area is now closed off for the duration of the project. The Student Success District (click to https://successdistrict.arizona.edu/for more information) will be a wonderful addition to campus. Campus Recreation is involved in the bottom level of the newly designed Bear Down Gym and plans are currently being developed for an array of recreational and mindfulness opportunities for students and members! Stay tuned for more information and announcements regarding this project in the near future! 

Other Projects/News

Campus Recreation is involved in several other aspects in addition to those major projects listed above. Not only are we continuing to provide facilities and programs to meet the needs of students and users, but we are: 

  • Hiring New Campus Recreation Staff. We are currently searching for four full-time positions which include two coordinators and two assistant directors. We will also be recruiting in the near future for a professional to assist in our assessment projects as well as a mechanic for the new Honors Village recreation facility. 
  • Providing a New Functional Fitness Program. F45 continues to offer great experiences for users and members alike. We encourage you to try out a class and see for yourself! 
  • Offering an Array of Outdoor Rec Trips. Outdoor trips are planned for the remaining weeks of the semester. Explore the many options available, from contemplative to adventurous.
  • Preparing for A-Camp and Arizona Youth University (AYU).  Registration is now open. These are great opportunities for kids to be active and involved with Campus Recreation for part or most of the summer! 

Check out Campus Recreation for these and many more “happenings” for Spring Semester 2019!

-Troy

Back many years ago when I was a college student, our destination from the small Midwestern school I went to was Florida. For many east of the Mississippi, I imagine it still is. One goes for the warmth, sand, beaches, etc. In the weeks leading up to the annual UA Spring Break, I did an informal pool of the student employees here in the Rec. I asked them where they were headed for break. The answers were:

      Destination                        No. Students

  • Home/Doing Nothing                7
  • Cruise                                          4
  • Mexico                                       11
  • Skiing (Utah/Colorado)               4
  • Europe                                         1
  • Texas                                            2
  • Florida                                         1
  • Working at the Rec                     6

I only did one Spring Break trip as an undergraduate. A group of my fraternity brothers and I went to Daytona Beach, FL. We had reservations at the “Robin Hood Inn”, a dive along the beach and on the strip. We stayed five nights in that dive and seemed to pay a fortune at the time. I remember it fondly. The drains in the bathroom did not work so soon the entire room was filled with 1-2 inches of water. I remember going to the front desk to complain and I remember the older woman telling me there were greater problems with other rooms in the place and to consider ourselves lucky. 

None of us really had money for food. We brought crackers and such with us. We bummed as much as we could from others we knew staying close. It seemed we were all on liquid diets that week anyway, so it didn’t matter to us if we ate or not.

One of the greatest bonding moments I had was spending the time with my fraternity brothers – my good friends. The highlight of our trip down was the car issues we had in Georgia. Fortunately, we had “Vic” along with us. Vic was a mechanic of sorts – grew up on a farm in suburban Indiana and knew something about how to fix everything. Late one night driving down, Vic had to get under the car to locate an issue. Not wanting to get his clothes dirty, Vic stripped down to his underwear, fixed the issue, and we were back on the road in no time. 

Dan, Brian, Vic, and I had a great time. My parents don’t know the fake ID’s we all had or the really great memories that we formed there, but we four do. It was the time of our lives and we were safe – that’s all that matters. 

As a father now of two college-aged kids, I am wishing all UA students have a GREAT time, to develop amazing memories, but also remember to be safe first and foremost. Enjoy this week. You only get a few “Spring Breaks” before adulthood and responsibilities kick in! 

-Troy

This past week, I was able to attend our national conference for the first time in many years. Held in Boston, the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) gathers yearly to share ideas and celebrate campus recreation at universities all over the country. It’s a typical conference – much like other national conferences you would think of. 

One segment of the conference is an update with your “region”. We are located in Region VI, the Western United States. Part of this meeting is an award that is given to a member of Region VI who gives back and contributes to the region through his/her work for NIRSA or for the region. This year’s winner is Janice DeMonsi, the Director of Recreation at Santa Clara University and an alumnae of the University of Arizona. 

It was a proud moment to see her receive her award for years of hard work and effort given to her university and the association. As I sat there in the front row listening, I was struck by the number of UA alumni that are working in our field or have contributed major things to our association, including:

  • Mary O’Mahoney – former UA Campus Rec staff member; recipient of the Region VI Award of Merit (2018); current Director of the Student Recreation Center at Cal State Bakersfield. 
  • Brian Carswell – former Associate Director in Campus Recreation; former president of NIRSA; current resident of the Tucson area. 
  • Juliette Moore – former Director of Campus Recreation here at the UA; winner of numerous awards and accolades for her service to NIRSA; current resident of Florida. 
  • Mirum Washington – former UA Campus Rec staff member; heavily involved in NIRSA for many years; one of the founding members of the Emerging Recreational Sports Leaders group.

As the newer director at the UA, I do not want to live in the past. Rather, I want to celebrate our past and revel in our future. We are doing much to improve Campus Recreation at the UA. We want to celebrate our history and those involved with it. Their contributions are plentiful! 

In the next several months, we will be unveiling some new ways for our alumni and friends to reach back out. We want their involvement – we NEED their involvement. It’s not about asking for money, but rather inviting them back to campus for a tour, corresponding with them on many levels, and just opening up to say “hello”. 

Our national conference is coming to Phoenix in April 2020. Due to the proximity, we have some big plans to bring these people back and honor their commitment to the UA, recognizing their contributions to this program, the University, and NIRSA in general. Alumni and friends, stay tuned.  This will be something fun to be a part of! 

-Troy Vaughn