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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 Wednesdays.  

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


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. 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