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 Wednesdays.
For questions or to suggest a story idea, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
I 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.
On 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 email@example.com.
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
Everyone has their “thing”…that little extra something they do to help out others. 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. I have never met and will likely never meet most of these students I have helped. I don’t do this for any reason other than to assist students and professionals in my chosen field. I have concluded, after many years, NOT to expect a thank you; I continue to do this simply because it is the “right thing to do.”
However, in thinking about this, it makes me quite sad. Over the past several months, I have critiqued 230 resumes from students and young professionals across the country. Of those 230, I have received only 42 thank you’s…42. If you do the math, that is an 18% response rate. Most students I will never hear from again. I’m sure I won’t remember the 82% I never heard back from, but I will certainly remember those who did.
One of those 18% was a young lady in California. I never met her, yet she wrote one of the most thoughtful thank you notes I have ever received. She was so gracious and complimentary of what I did for her. She is the kind of young professional I would love to hire because of the way she treats people; she embodies what my mom told me over 40 years ago: a simple thank you goes a LONG way!
I remember her name – Christina - and if I have an open position, she will certainly jump to the top of my list. What was really awesome is 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 throughout 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 – and from someone I have never met. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I send most of these back electronically now and not through US Mail!
I know we live in a fast-paced society today. It’s a fact: young people don’t like talking face to face. You use social media, you text…heck, I do too just because it’s convenient and quick. We don’t call each other. We don’t say hello to someone walking the opposite direction…I get all of that. I just don’t agree with it.
But just imagine what a real, person-to-person THANK YOU can get you. People help you every day. People go above and beyond for you. Those who supervise you, your parents or guardians, a slew of others…I bet every day 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 and strong. Really let someone know how much you appreciate what they do or how they do it. All of you are all-stars; all of you have the ability to really make someone happy and show your appreciation for what they have done for you.
Employees like to be valued and feel appreciated. Just receiving a paycheck is NOT a thank you – or at least one that I would like to receive. 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…. try sending a hand-written card, a special gift, homemade cookies, or maybe a gift card for someone – just to say thanks. 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 the ways 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!
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.
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!