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The Weekly Well-Cat




A Campus Recreation blog focused 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 each week on Wednesday.  

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


Apr. 24, 2019: We Have an Officer on Deck

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.”

Apr. 17, 2019: Spotlight on Outdoor Rec Coordinator Devon Chapman

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


Apr. 10, 2019: Spotlight on Fitness Coordinator Leah Callovini

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!”


Apr. 3, 2019: A Special Program in a Special Place

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!”

Mar. 27, 2019: Clubs are the Purest of Sports...and Hockey had an Amazing Season!

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! 


Mar. 20, 2019: Aguilar Makes a Difference on the Hardwood & Football Field

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!  


Mar. 13, 2019: Update on Campus Recreation Projects

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!


Mar. 6, 2019: Spring Break Has Certainly Changed!


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! 


Feb. 27, 2019: The Importance of Our Alumni and Friends

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. 

Janice DeMonsiOne 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


Feb. 20, 2019: Build the Skill—Campus Rec partners with Student Engagement

Build the Skill (BTS) is an initiative designed by the Office of Student Engagement and Career Development to offer designated non-credit opportunities for UA students to gain transferable skill we know employers desire from new hires. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers identify the ability to work in a team as a top attribute they look for on a candidate's resume (NACE Job Outlook, 2017).  But in reality, many students express a distaste for working in groups.  

Through participation in the BTS: Collaboration module, students will be able to work effectively as part of a diverse team, generate new ideas that incorporate the contributions of others, behave in an ethical way, volunteer to lead activities, and demonstrate follow-through and collaboration in traditional and virtual spaces.  Through these experiences, students discover new possibilities for their purpose and develop valuable skills to launch a career. Personalized reflections built into each of these challenges mean that UA graduates easily connect what they've learned from these experiences to what's needed in the world as they take the next step into a job, graduate research or professional school, or even launching their own ventures. 

Participation in the BTS online module is optional, but we think it’s a great opportunity to gain recognition for skills that you may already be working to develop.  True engagement initiates from a student’s own motivation. The philosophy behind this initiative is to inspire—through campus-wide conversations about the value of applied learning and reflection, and investments to support students, faculty and staff in creating and identifying such opportunitiesrather than to require participation. 

By participating in BTS, students will be able to critically analyze personal strengths and challenges and translate experiences into new professional goals or personal life plans; to articulate self-insight in the context of a new learning environment; and to describe how competencies gained in one experience can be applied to a new context and apply new ideas and insights to improve a process, product or outcome.

The University of Arizona is implementing innovative ways to help students build this in-demand skill, starting with "Build the Skill: Collaboration."  Developing these skills help students translate their experience and apply it in a meaningful way to their personal and professional goals making UA students among the most employable in the world.  

Looking for more information on how to develop your transferable skill set? Check out this link to get more information on the next available Build the Skill session: https://career.arizona.edu/skills-experience/build-the-skill.

-Guest contributor, Devon Thomas (UA Student Engagement)

Feb. 13, 2019: Celebrating Our Diversity!

One day last week I was walking through the Student Recreation Center on my way to a meeting and noticed a group of individuals looking lost and wandering the lower hallway of the facility. I approached them and asked if I could be of help to them. 

One of the younger individuals spoke back in broken English that they were looking for a gym. As we conversed further, I learned that he and his sister were visiting the UA with their parents. They were from China and had arrived the day before in the US to look at several institutions for possible future enrollment. 

I immediately welcomed them and soon discovered that they were from Taipei, Taiwan, a city that I had visited back in the early 1990’s. I walked them around the facility and pointed out some of the amenities that the Student Recreation Center offers. The two younger students were translating what I was saying to the parents. As we walked, I found myself wishing that I could understand Chinese so that I would know precisely what was being stated to them. The male student, who was talking to me, was very appreciative. I asked him what other schools they were looking at and he indicated that they were visiting two additional Pac-12 schools—Cal-Berkeley and Stanford.

I had a wonderful time in the 20 minutes or so I spent with them. They were on a tight schedule and off to their next location in no time. Before our final farewells, I reiterated the UA “commitment” and specifically, that of the Student Recreation Center, to international students as well as to all students as indicated in our mission. 

A few months ago, I tasked our marketing team to come up with a tribute to show our international students that we are truly a diverse facility. Coming to the Rec in March will be such a dedication—a display representing flags from across the world. Each international flag will represent the home country of an UA student dating back to 2000. There will be over 150 international flags adorning the lower hallway in the Rec. 

Click image to enlarge

And, we didn’t want to stop there. A world map will be placed on the adjacent wall.  Each country’s flag will be given a numeral and that numeral will correspond with a location on the map. So, all students and Rec users can now easily identify where UA students are coming from – literally every corner of the world! We will also display all of the native tribal Arizona flags and a State of Arizona map representing those UA students. We expect this work to be completed over spring break and will be hosting a dedication/reception later in March to celebrate the Rec’s commitment to diversity!

After the interaction my new Taiwanese friends, I was curious about a few things. I went to the UA Fact Book and found out the following about our international student population…

  • In 2017, 3,942 UA students were considered international; 2,327 undergrads and 1,615 graduate students
  • 27 countries from all over the world are represented by UA students
  • The five international countries that send the most students to the UA are:
    • China 1,816
    • India 346
    • Saudi Arabia 318
    • Mexico 181
    • South Korea 128

As we continue to progress and the world becomes a smaller place due to international travel, the internet, and other means, the face of the University of Arizona will continue to evolve. We must make a commitment to our international friends and the Student Recreation Center is dedicated to this moving forward! 


Feb. 6, 2019: RecPals at Campus Recreation

In the Fall, Campus Recreation was approached by Campus Health to develop an idea that could help strengthen the campus community and connect students who have shared interests in fitness and wellness. The Campus Rec staff worked hard on creating such a program and we are proud to announce…


Dana Santoro, Assistant Director, Fitness & Wellness: “RecPals is a brand-new pilot program that Campus Recreation is offering to the first 30 students to sign up through our online questionnaire. RecPals is designed to stimulate fitness between students interested in like activities, share similar fitness levels, and have similar availability.” 

We find that many students on our University campus are unaware of the breadth of what Campus Recreation has to offer. Some students may not even realize that they have access to Campus Recreation because of their payment of the Recreation fee each semester. Our goal through RecPals is to help those students find one another and discover all that Campus Rec has to offer...together!  

Research has found that students are more successful when they engage with others both socially and physically. According to Gallup, students who are thriving in both their social and physical well-being are more likely to be successful. We want to make sure all students at the UA succeed by helping them feel engaged, involved, and supported by their institution. 

In the RecPals questionnaire, you can self-disclose what you are looking for in a fitness pal - whether that be outdoor trips, competitive sports, or weight-lifting, to name a few.  When the questionnaire is completed and submitted to our Fitness & Wellness program, a team member will personally match you with a similar student, then send you the contact information of your new RecPal. Our team will also connect you to your activity of choice and provide you with information on how best to use the Rec’s resources to work out with your new pal!

At the end of the Spring 2019 semester, a survey will be sent to the 30 students piloting this program to gather valuable feedback and improve the program for future semesters. If you are interested in RecPals, sign up today by filling out the questionnaire available at rec.arizona.edu/recpals and emailing it to crec-fitwell@email.arizona.edu. For more information, please reach out to Dana at dsantoro@email.arizona.edu.

- Troy 

Jan. 30, 2019: Guest Pass Policy Changes & More Promote Safety at Rec

Campus Recreation has been working hard of late on reworking some policies to better the experience for students and members. Campus Recreation has always had the priority of safety of all of our patrons first and foremost. Because of this, a policy change is coming in February and I wanted to explain the rationale behind it a bit. 

Effect on February 1, guest passes will only be sold if the “sponsor” (UA affiliated individual – student, member, etc.) is present with the guest. This is a bit different from the policy we currently use in that anyone, regardless of affiliation, can self-sponsor for the $10.00 entry fee. 

Much thought and research went into this change. The rationale we are using is as follows:

  1. The change promotes safety first and foremost for students and members of the Rec. When someone self-sponsors, we are unable to verify them or their past history. 
  2. In an examination of incidents or problems at the Student Recreation Center, a large number of these incidents are related to “unsponsored” guests. 
  3. We are certainly not an open country club. Students pay a student fee to be provided some of the best campus recreation facilities and programs in the country.  While we will lose significant revenue from such a change, we are doing this to better provide safety within the department, the facility, and the University as a whole. 

So what will the change be like? It’s simple….

  • The sponsoring member (student, etc.) must now be present and sign for responsibility of the guest.  
  • Information will be taken from any guest as we would extract from any member.
  • If we have an issue with the guest, the sponsoring member will be held responsible for the actions of a guest.
  • This new policy is valid for all guest passes purchased as of Feb. 1, 2019.

Recently, Campus Recreation also changed two other long-standing policies. We lessened the patron apparel dress code for weight room spaces. And, we removed our “bag policy” which prohibited mainly informal basketball users in gym spaces from bringing a bag into the gym. We did this because we are listening to our students, our student employees, and our members. The changes will hopefully make your Campus Recreation experience more enjoyable. 

We too hope that a step in the right direction for increased security at the Rec is also the “right thing to do”.  After all, your safety while in the Rec Center is and must remain one of our top concerns. 

Please feel free to reach out to me, Troy Vaughn, Director of Campus Recreation, at troyvaughn@email.arizona.edu.



Jan. 23, 2019: Planning Ahead - We Need YOUR Help!

Back in the Fall of 2018 - just after I started as the new Director of Campus Recreation - I tried to get a better understanding of the Rec’s direction. I had some experiences at other institutions with strategic planning, and when I started at UA, I was often asked, “what is your vision for the Rec?”

While I certainly had thoughts on this, I immediately looked at Campus Recreation’s mission, vision, and values statements. These are located on our website at https://rec.arizona.edu/about/mission. In a nutshell, they are as follows…


Campus Recreation collaborates with the university community to offer exemplary facilities, programs and services that inspire participation and engagement.


A university leader for inspiring an active, healthy and engaged lifestyle that enhances a sense of well-being and fosters community.

These statements are old – but are they still accurate? Do they convey the needs and wants of our students and members? I cannot answer that question….yet. So that leads me to this weekly blog. Last Fall, we contracted with a company out of Cape Girardeau, Missouri to come in and do some strategic planning for Campus Recreation. Since the first conversation, we have accomplished much:

  • Several in-person and telephone meetings with GlennView staff members to discuss the planning project
  • Focus Groups with samples of students, employees, facility members, community members, student staff, and professional Campus Recreation staff to gain a variety of inputs on the effects of Campus Rec
  • Reading thousands of comments and suggestions on what patrons felt Campus Rec does well and what Campus Rec needs to improve on

From the focus groups, GlennView staff have put together a survey to disseminate to all interested users of Campus Recreation facilities and programs. It is my hope that we can get as many students, staff, users, and members as possible to click on the survey link below and answer the 60+ questions. Please take a few moments to complete the survey and give us your opinions! 


GlennView staff will be back at the end of February to continue to the process with a select group of individuals.

Receiving student and member opinions based on the results from the survey above is very valuable to us here at Campus Rec. You deserve to have a say in your Campus Recreation program!  

- Troy 

Jan. 16, 2019: We Do Listen...

Recently, a member here at the University of Arizona stopped into the Business Office to meet with me. I could tell immediately that he was not happy. Holding several business cards of members of my staff, he walked down the hallway toward my office and started the conversation in the hallway.

“Whoa” I stated…. “I don’t even know your name,” I clambered as he quickly was going through his list of issues for me.  

When I got him to slow down a bit, he listed 4-5 issues that he had with Campus Recreation….. issues with equipment he had experienced, service, and other aspects. 

But the one thing he said to me that hit home was “your office is not transparent”. When I asked him what he meant by this, he continued on by saying that he had made these similar complaints before with no action and no update to him. He wanted accountability. 

The meeting went on for about 25 minutes. We spoke avidly about many things and I learned of his past with us, what he is doing now, and where he wants to be in a few years with his life. My initial opinion of him was not a positive one. My ending opinion of him was he wanted accountability from us – he wanted me to listen. Listen I did…. 

After the meeting, I thought long and hard about what he said. One of the comments he made to me was that he wanted updates about “goings on” in the facility. He claimed that if we would tell patrons - what we are doing, which machines were out of order, what other issues could affect users - the users would be more appreciative. I agreed with him. 

I thought about the way we communicate with members and students. We email, we post signs, we have newsletters, we hang info in restrooms, on display boards, etc.  We have committees (RAC – Recreation Advisory Committee); The Health and Recreation Fee Committee (all student members); SEAC – our Student Employee Advisory Council. In fact, this blog is certainly one way that we can communicate with patrons. 

But people look and listen to different things. They pay attention to some of the things we do and not others. One of the things we try and pride ourselves with in Campus Recreation is the availability of staff to talk to, our transparency and communication efforts. When this individual told me we had failed him, I started to think of ways to better inform folks in the facility, even if we are doing so already. 

I learned much from this patron. I learned that we need to do better and we need to better communicate these attempts to do better to all of you. We will certainly try! 

So, with that in mind, we will be posting some informational slides on little things we are doing in and around the Rec Center. So watch for these slides in the coming weeks and please let me know how we are doing in communication to all of you!  



Dec. 18, 2018: This Isn’t Your Typical Fundraiser...

According to a CBS News poll from 2017, over 54% of American families are or will be affected by cancer.  That essentially means that over HALF of all American families will deal with a family member afflicted by some sort of cancer. Chances are as you read this, someone in your family or someone you know is suffering or has suffered from cancer. I am a part of that group. I can list a grandmother and a spouse in my family. Who is in yours? 

One club team here at the University of Arizona is looking to put a small dent in the effects of cancer. On Saturday, January 19, 2019 at 7:30PM here at the Tucson Convention Center, the UA Men’s Hockey team will be playing the University of Central Oklahoma team. While the battle on the ice will be monumental, something even more important is going on outside of the game: the 5th Annual “Pink the Rink” Game to raise money and awareness for cancer research. “This really drives home that our players are representing something bigger than a hockey game,” stated head coach Chad Berman. 

At the game, fans have the ability to purchase a pink jersey and place the name of a loved one who has or is currently fighting cancer on the back of that jersey. Additionally, small bios will appear in the game program for that day telling the story of the individuals being honored on the jerseys. Each jersey costs $250 and ALL PROCEEDS go directly to the University of Arizona Cancer Center.             

Now seeing pink at a game, any game, isn’t new to anyone that enjoys sports. Breast cancer awareness month usually occurs in the fall, and you can see kids, collegiate athletes and professional athletes in a variety of sports wearing pink. But this one is different.  This one is very personal, very profound, and very meaningful. 

For those who have experienced the effects of this illness or seen a loved one go through radiation, chemotherapy, or even surgery, it is gut-wrenching. I have seen this. I have experienced this. You can never prepare yourself for the cruelty of cancer. 

Coach Berman recanted to me a recent trip his team took to visit the local Children’s Hospital, stating, “It’s difficult to see, but very rewarding to see how excited kids get to see our players and spend some time with them. You can literally see the benefit of them taking their mind off their treatment and having some fun, even if just for a brief few minutes. Every year we get letters or messages back; that is really touching”. 

You can purchase a pink jersey and contribute to the UA Cancer Center by visiting https://www.arizonawildcathockey.org/pink.


UA player #19 Justin Plumhoff honoring his mother; teammate #15 Anthony Cusanelli supporting AZ Senator John McCain (2018)
UA player Charlie James poses with his mom, Lisa James, and Coach Chad Berman (2018)
UA player Chris Westlund battling in front of the net against Utah in “Pink the Rink” game (2018)


Dec. 12, 2018: Remembering a Somber Time and our Ties to the USS Arizona

Not many of us were around 77 years ago. Those that were, are now in their mid-late 90’s. This great generation of men and women is leaving us, and many don’t know their history and the incredible lives they led. I attended a ceremony and memorial on the mall to remember the sacrifices made by Americans 77 years ago. 

On December 7, 1941, on the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands (not even a state yet), the American Pacific fleet woke up on a bright and lazy Sunday morning to war. The Japanese Navy had sent multiple aircraft carriers and planes to the island and launched a surprise attack, sparking America’s entrance into World War II. 

1,177 sailors and enlisted personnel died in a short span of time as several bombs and torpedoes slammed into the “USS Arizona,” which was docked in “Battleship Row” that morning.  Some sailors never even made to the deck. Many perished where they slept. It was that quick. Of that 1,177 Americans, 1,102 are still entombed in the ship today. 

Arizona Memorial on the UA MallI went to the campus mall on December 7 to pay my respects at the wonderful memorial the University of Arizona erected in the memory of those who perished that Sunday morning in Hawaii. An amazing to-scale outline of the USS Arizona stood on the mall; yet, as I stood there, I was awe-struck at the number of people who walked by and paid no attention. Maybe they didn’t understand the importance of the day, or the significance of the ship that was displayed on the ground in front of them. I wish I could take the time to explain to every one of them the magnitude of this memorial.

Now, December 7 was the first day of finals for students on campus. Their minds were on biology, math or engineering. I hold no fault in anyone that didn’t realize the importance and sacrifice those 1,177 sailors and marines made that terrible morning. 

The memorial is beautiful. It’s a fitting devotion to all those who had perished, and also gives a sense of the ship’s enormity. If you look at pictures online of the USS Arizona, you will see a massive battleship. Built and commissioned in 1916, 25 years before December 7, the Arizona was constructed in a time when battleships were the most important ship any navy could have. She was massive for her time…608 feet long, over 29,000 million tons, with fierce armament. She was an incredible ship and part of the Pride of the US Navy fleet.  

At the time, military strategists were discussing building a new ship – a ship that could bring a war to close. The “aircraft carrier” was a relatively new concept for the military then, and it soon took over as the most valuable ship in any fleet. Pearl Harbor showcased the power of this ship when the Japanese Navy sailed aircraft carriers undetected within a couple hundred miles of Pearl Harbor, and then launched planes from their decks toward American battleships, driving the United States into World War II.  

Even before the Arizona had the chance to fight back she was gone. The Arizona wasn’t the only victim that day. Hundreds of aircraft sitting in hangers and on runways close by were destroyed. Many support facilities were damaged and destroyed and the battleships Tennessee, Utah, Oklahoma, and others never sailed again. Additionally, many support ships were also damaged or destroyed. It was a resounding win for the Japanese that morning - with one exception… all of the American aircraft carriers had been absent from Pearl Harbor that morning. This miracle saved the future of the U.S. navy and enabled America to enter a long 4-year war. 

Lives Lost RememberedOn this gloomy December 7th, I witnessed the 77-year anniversary of Pearl Harbor. The names of 1,177 navy and marine personnel that died on the Arizona that morning were remembered fondly, and I am grateful that all of their names are listed on the memorial at the campus I work. 

The Arizona may be gone, but she is never forgotten. 


Dec. 5, 2018: Corey’s Story

One of the many blessings we have here within the walls of the Rec Center is the diversity of the students and members who use the facilities. Whether you swim, bike, walk, run, do yoga, go to a fitness class, or play sports, everyone has their own thing at the Rec.

I often ask students what they do at Campus Rec. Many students give typical answers. Some are not so typical. I’d like to tell you the story of Corey Hirsch…. 

Staff offices in the Rec Center are located on the second floor. For several weeks, I had noticed Corey riding a bike upstairs at a very high rate. Many days as I passed, I would say hello to him or we’d wave at each other. His workouts were very high intensity, and I thought to myself, “this isn’t your typical workout here.” A couple weeks ago, I started a conversation with Corey, and he told me he was training for his first ever marathon. 

Now, it takes a special person to do a full 26.2 mile run. To do it correctly, you must train. I found out that Corey performs most of his training on bike. And bike he did – hundreds of miles of training, sweating, and conditioning to prepare for a trek of a lifetime. 

It turns out Corey’s “trek” was also not typical, and it had a story. The undergrad law major ran in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC. One of 30,000 runners this year, Corey explained to me that he had always wanted to run a marathon, but it was his cousin who convinced him to run with him. 

“I hate running,” Corey stated. But he added, “I registered to do it in 4 hours and 45 minutes,” while peddling during a workout. 

Now I have done 7 half-marathons… some I jogged, some I walked. But the euphoria you get when crossing that finish line is one of the most amazing feelings you can have. It’s a feeling of accomplishment and, for many, relief. I didn’t train anywhere near the level of Corey’s training.  

The Marine Corps Marathon was on October 28. I saw Corey the week after…pedaling away on that same bike. I immediately asked how he did. 

“I hit a wall at mile-marker 24 and literally had to limp the last two miles,” said Corey. The “wall” is a term runners use to describe the point that is the toughest for them, their breaking point. Fighting past that wall is both mentally and physically exhausting. Corey finished the marathon in a little over 5 hours - a bit later than he had hoped - BUT, he finished!

Corey had a unique story – one that I listed to intently, and one that needs to be told. 

Corey grew up in a military family; his father is retired Navy. When longtime family friend Travis Manion was killed fighting for our country in Afghanistan, a foundation was formed in his name: The Travis Manion Foundation (https://www.travismanion.org/). Corey and his cousin ran for this foundation… they ran for Travis. “I’ve been involved with this Foundation for a long time, so it made sense that I ran for Travis,” he stated. 

While Corey didn’t reach his goal time in his first marathon, a fire has been lit within him to do more and run farther. He is planning on running a marathon in Los Angeles in March and is currently training for it. Hirsch added, “one of my favorite quotes is ‘embrace the suck!’ Training sucks, but you have to find a way to enjoy the process. Here in the Rec, I have found it. This is one of the best gyms around. It has everything you need.” Corey has plans to run an ultra-marathon some point in his future. Ultra-marathons can vary in distances, but some can be 100 miles or so in length.

Everyone here at the Rec is different. Everyone has a story. I am very proud and honored to share Corey’s story with you. I’d like to also know your story. If you would like to share, please reach out to me at troyvaughn@email.arizona.edu.


Photo of UA Junior Corey Hirsch (left) with his cousin Conner Fox at the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C last month, reprinted with permission.

Nov. 28, 2018: Importance of a Thank You--Part Two

My thing is helping students with resumes. I have done this for over 27 years. I have had several articles published about this and many in my field would call me an “expert” in creating resumes for folks in the recreation or athletics field. Each year, I receive 300-400 such resumes from students and professionals from all over the country asking me for help. I spend countless hours correcting and critiquing these. I spend time scanning and sending resumes back to these students and even spend my own money to mail the hard-copy corrected resume back to the address listed. Most of these students I help……I have never met or never will meet. I don’t do this for anything other than to assist students and professionals in my chosen field. I have honestly come to the conclusion that after many years to NOT expect a thank you. I just do this because I’m pretty good at it and it’s just the “right thing to do”.

BUT, in thinking about this, it makes me really SAD. In the past several months, I probably critiqued 230 resumes from students and young professionals around the country. Of those, I received only 42 "Thank You’s". If you do the math, that is only an 18% response rate. Some students may ask more questions in response to my critiques, but many don’t respond at all. Most I will never hear from again. Honestly, I won’t remember those 82% that I never heard back from, but I certainly do remember the ones who did.

One of those was a young lady in California. I’ve never met her but yet she wrote the most thoughtful thank you I have ever received. She was so gracious and complimentary of what I did for her. She is the kind of young professional that I would love to hire because of the way she treats people—she subscribes to what my mom told me over 40 years ago—a thank you goes a LONG way! 

I remember her name was Christina, and if I have an open position, she jumps to the top of my list immediately.. What was really awesome is that she sent me a book of 50 stamps. In her letter she said, “I’m paying this forward for all of the people that you have helped through the years. It’s not much, but here are some stamps to use to send all of those resumes back to those students you help.” I think that is amazing stuff from someone I have never met.

I know we live in a fast paced society today. It’s a fact about students and young people—people don’t like talking face to face. You use social media today, you text.  I do too just because it’s convenient and quick. We don’t call each other anymore. We don’t say hello to someone walking the opposite direction. We don’t like face to face. We don’t like to talk in person much anymore. I just don’t agree with that. 

But just imagine what a real live person-to-person THANK YOU can get you. People help you every day. People go above and beyond for you every day. Those who supervise you. Your parents or guardians, and a slew of other people. Every day, I bet you can think of someone helping you!

So today, I challenge every one of you reading this to try and say thank you. Not just an “ordinary” thank you but a THANK YOU that is heartfelt, strong, and engaging. Really let someone know how much you appreciate what they do or how they do it. All of you in this room are all-stars. All of you have the ability to really make someone happy and give them appreciation for what they have done for you.

Employees like to be valued, made to feel appreciated. Just receiving a paycheck is NOT a thank you. One of my favorite discussions on Thank You’s comes from the Dillenschneider Group in New York. They say “being thanked makes the heart sing. It means even more when both parties know each other, where there is mutual respect… just as a reprimand from someone we know well stings more. And yet some who never fail to thank a stranger for holding open a door or picking up a dropped object consistently fail to express gratitude to their nearest and dearest. The happiest relationships are built not just on trust and love, but on politeness, mutual courtesy, and gratitude. The hardest heart may be melted by a simple but sincere THANK YOU. Vast emotional distances may be overcome in a moment by a thank you that conveys the notion that “I appreciate you and what you do”.

So I ask you to try sending a hand-written card, a special gift, make them cookies, or maybe buy a gift card for someone just to say thanks in a special way.  An emoji of a thumbs up or a “TY” in a text just doesn’t have the same effect. Trust me, as someone who doesn’t get many thank you’s, these are ways that you can really stand out and make an impression!


Nov. 21, 2018: Importance of a Thank You--Part One

On my way in, I made my usual stop at the Circle-K on Broadway to get my morning “joe.” While I don’t really savor the taste of coffee, I have come to enjoy the warmth it provides on a cool morning, especially when I ride my motorcycle to work. Per my usual, I got a 20oz decaf coffee, added my Splenda and vanilla creamer and approached the cashier. She pushed a few buttons, told me it was $1.38 and I gave her a $5 dollar bill. As she handed me my change, several coins sprung from the register. I immediately said “THANK YOU”. Took my money and walked out of the store with drink in hand. 

This morning was different though. I thought to myself: “Troy, why did you thank her? She was just doing her job. She makes a salary and a living to stand there and to accept my money, right? Why am I thanking her - it’s her JOB to make me happy, right? After all, I am the customer!” 

I pondered that for a few minutes.

Maybe it was the way I was brought up. Maybe it was the strict parenting that was instilled in me - that when someone does something for me, I should thank them regardless. I remember having this conversation with my mom when I was about 6 or 7…“Mom, why do we say thank you?”  My Mom replied, “because it is the right thing to do.” 

A few weeks ago, I was at a Tucson store late at night – maybe a few minutes before closing at 10pm. I had a purpose…I was looking to buy some new dress shoes. I knew what I wanted and strolled into a shoe store where the three employees were all standing at the register yawning. I am sure they were hoping those last few minutes of their night passed quickly; the impression I got from them was not a positive one. I went to the area where I saw the shoes I wanted, confirmed the box and size, picked them up and moved toward the register. 

I placed my box on the counter and one of the three employees who was standing there slowly approached me and gave me the same line I am sure she gives everyone….“did you find everything ok?”  I responded “yes”.  She rung me up, and I gave her my cash. As she gave me my change, I purposefully said nothing—just to see what would happen. As I looked at her, she said on cue “you’re welcome”.  I assumed that was a part of her training.  She was programed to say it.  I walked out, purchase in hand, smiling and thinking about how we all take the simple words “thank you” for granted. 

Working at Campus Recreation, it’s our job to help people every day. We’re in a customer service business where students and members are our customers. Most experiences with students are positive ones; yet I know all too well that there are some negative ones, too. Most times, we tend to remember the negatives more than the positives; we dwell on those negative comments and allow negative things to affect us more than the positive. 

Here are two questions I want all of you to consider…

  • When was the last time you said the words THANK YOU to someone and really meant it? Think about the last time you really thanked someone for helping you out of a jam, for the advice they have given, for the time they gave away from their busy schedules to help you. 
  • When was the last time you mailed a thank you card to someone - not a text, not an email, not a Snapchat or Tweet –an honest-to-goodness written thank you card? I’m not talking about a thank you for the graduation money from high school or a thank you to a store clerk like I mentioned about earlier. I’m talking about a full-fledged from the heart “thank you”.  I bet many of you have never sent such a card or letter. 

You know, we all like to feel good. We all like to be recognized for the things we do – for the services we provide. Sure, employees that work receive a salary for what they do, but is that really enough? Some of us think we may not need to be recognized, but I bet most of us do. I know that I like to be thanked and recognized occasionally.  This Thanksgiving, remember to take a moment to reach out and say "Thanks"!


Nov. 14, 2018: Evolution of a New Recreational Facility

Many of you may have heard about the new “Honors Village” project that is going up just off campus. Located in the two-block area sandwiched by Drachmann Street on the East, Mabel Avenue on the West, Santa Rita on the South and Park on the North. The new facility will serve students and members on the north side of campus.

Scheduled to be open for Fall 2019, the complex will have a 1,000-bed residence hall, classrooms, and meal services available for Honors students living there. The new student recreation center is being constructed along the old Fremont Avenue and will contain three levels and approximately 51,000 square feet of new space for students. Campus Health also has a presence in the facility, adding space on the second floor for numerous counselors from CAPS to assist students that live or attend classes on that side of campus.  

Since the announcement of the new project, students and curious folks alike have asked a lot of questions about the construction and operations. I personally have received many calls, emails, and voicemails asking questions. Aspects of the project have been presented to ASUA and GPSC, and there is a true buzz on campus about the construction.

Here are some FAQs:

Q:   When will the facility be open?

A:   The project is currently on schedule to be completed before classes start in Fall 2019.


Q:   What will be in the new rec center?

A:   There will be many amenities within the new facility, including a juice bar, weight equipment, cardio pieces on each floor, a basketball/multi-use wood court, cabanas, dedicated CAPS services (Campus Health) area on the second floor, lounge spaces, multi-purpose rooms, a spin/cycle studio, personal training assessment area, and much more!  For the latest information on the North District Wellness & Rec Center, visit rec.arizona.edu/north-district.


Q:   How is the facility being paid for? 

A:   As part of the Health and Recreation Fee (H&R Fee) that all students pay on campus, a dedicated portion of the fee is being used to fund the construction of the recreation facility. 


Q:   How is the building being staffed?

A:   While there are many unknowns at this point, Campus Recreation will have positions serving both fitness and facility needs in the building. Campus Health will also be staffing the CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) aspect, with several supporting staff. 


Q:   Will I need to choose which rec center I want to attend? 

A:   Students who pay the general Health and Recreation Fee will have access to either facility. Faculty/staff and other patrons will purchase one membership that will give them access to either facility. 


Q:   I heard there’s a pool coming in the new rec center? Is that true? 

A:   There is no pool in the new facility. Campus Rec has a great Olympic-size pool at Sixth and Highland that will continue to serve all patrons! 


Q:   Will parking be available? 

A:   Yes, a new parking garage just to the north of the rec center site is planned and will serve patrons utilizing the new facility. Due to the facility’s location, most users are within walking distance of the building.  The site is also near many academic buildings—Health Sciences, School of Law, Eller, College of Medicine, and others. 


Q:   What will the hours be?

A:   While not confirmed yet, we think the hours of the new rec center will mirror those of the current rec center, weekdays 6am – midnight and weekends 8am – midnight.


Q:   Can my student organization rent space in the new building?

A:   Yes, when available, the gym and multi-purpose spaces will be available for use by anyone wanting to rent such facilities. 


Q:   Will tours be given in the facility before it opens? 

A:   Tours are currently not being scheduled until more of the construction is completed. We foresee being able to offer tours of the facility in Spring 2019. 


Q:   How will I access the facility?

A:   Your current Cat Card will allow you access to the new facility, just like the Rec does now! 


Q:   What is the name of the new rec center? 

A:   The name of the new facility has not been selected as of yet. The University is always looking for ideas or partners, and naming rights are available. If you are interested in learning more, please do not hesitate to reach out to us and we can put you in touch with the UA staff who can assist you! 

It is truly an exciting time to be a student and member of the Rec! By adding another 50,000+ square feet and serving an entirely different area of campus, we will be able to expand our opportunities for students and patrons.  I have no doubts that this new facility will not only attract Honors Village residents who call the complex next-door home, but also a wide assortment of students and employees who live, work, or attend classes in the area. 

As construction continues over the winter months, we will keep all of you updated on the progress through the Campus Recreation website.

-Troy Vaughn

Learn More about the New Wellness & Rec Center at North District

Nov. 7, 2018: We are Only as Good as We Look

Have you ever been out with a friend, spouse, or significant other and walk into a place and see that the facility you want to spend quality time in is dirty? In my mind, there is nothing worse than being in a place that is filthy; the floor is stained, dust bunnies in the corners, handprints all over the glass at the entrance. It really makes you think twice about a place to visit. 

The Rec is a truly unique place - 150,000 square feet of gym floors, locker rooms, multi-purpose rooms, showers, toilets, carpets, machines, weight rooms, tile flooring. The variety that our 9 custodians (Sylvia Granillo, Andrew Cervantez, Moises Lau Diaz, Norma Durazo, Christa Morales, Ivan Valenzuela, Javier Duarte, Jose Luis Hernandez, and Elizabeth Robinson, their lead, Paula Santos, and our Campus Rec Operations leader Robert Rodriguez) have to clean and manage on a daily basis (this includes evenings and weekends as well) is endless. Couple that with the fact that last year alone, over 1,200,000 people passed through the doors of the Rec. That’s 2,400,000 pairs of shoes, 2,400,000 hands, etc. - I think you can get the picture. 

When I interviewed here for the Director position in April, one of the things I looked at was cleanliness and the effort that is put forth in keeping a facility clean. I was told long ago by a mentor that the way to tell if a facility is well-maintained or not is by going to a back stairwell and looking at that area where nobody goes. If it’s clean, then you have a clean facility. The back stairwell I snuck off to look at was spotless. This truly was one of the many reasons I decided to come to the U of A… how truly clean we really are. 

Custodial staff are truly the unsung heroes of any staff or department. Think about it…. their position is very labor intensive. They bend, walk, scoot, rub, squat, sweep, and ride. Let’s face it - custodians are truly the heart and soul of any department. 

I am grateful for the crew that is based in the Rec. Their efforts are seen and truly appreciated on a daily basis. A couple weeks ago I was walking up the stairs on a Monday morning and saw one of our wonderful custodians on her hands and knees with a rag scrubbing baseboards and tiles at the bottom of each step. There are 29 steps and two sides to every step. It took her several days, but the end result was unbelievable. Every line of grout was cleaned. Every spot was seen. That was the point when I thought to myself, “we are only as good as we look”. 

Just a week ago, I was in late on a Friday evening. One of our male custodians was cleaning a water fountain on the second level of the Rec. As I was working out upstairs, I watched him for 13 minutes polish and shine that water fountain. It was sanitized over and over. When completed, I would have eaten off this thing.  

I could cite situations like this over and over. Yes, we have amazing student staff members. Yes, we have amazing professional staff who care deeply about the Rec. What I found here early on is that we have totally unbelievable custodial staff. Thank them if you see them. They could just do the minimum for us but I believe they go far and above that. 

NEVER EVER take your custodial crew for granted. A good custodian is someone that you want to hang onto. You trust them and we take them for granted. I choose not to take our folks for granted… I choose to praise them when I see them, to be cheery and say hello. Custodians are human too. They have kids, families, friends, and social lives away from work. I hope to get to know mine better as the year moves along. 

Thank you to the staff of custodians here at the Rec - I can think of 1,200,000 others that are grateful you are here too!  

-Troy Vaughn