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:  August 21 (No Blog on Aug. 14)

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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. 


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:

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. 


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. (
  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! 


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:

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 ( 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.  


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. 


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. 


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


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!”


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! 



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!  


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 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!


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! 


This past week, I was able to attend our national conference for the first