Beyond the Stadium: RecSports Enhances Campus Community
Amid the headlines and hoopla that characterize Texas Longhorn varsity sports, it can be easy to lose sight of the thousands of UT students happily engaged in sports and staying fit on campus every day. The University’s Division of Recreational Sports is one of the oldest and largest collegiate recreational programs in the nation. If Recreational Sports is an unfamiliar term for you, you’re not alone. Many alumni recognize the division as Intramurals because of their participation in that particular program. But in 1974 the Men’s and Women’s Intramural Programs combined to form the Division of Recreational Sports. This pivotal change enabled the organization to evolve into one of the most popular and diverse programs on campus.
Today’s Recreational Sports — or RecSports as it’s better known on campus — attracts more than 90 percent of undergraduate students. Participants continue to enjoy competing in Intramural Sports, but can also take part in five other program areas — Sport Clubs, Outdoor Recreation, the Fitness/Wellness Program, the Instructional Program, and Informal Recreation — in 10 wide-ranging facilities, including Gregory Gym, the Aquatic Complex, and the Recreational Sports Center.
While RecSports has changed dramatically since its 1916 inception, its partnership with and commitment to students have remained constant. Whereas in the early days student volunteers helped to organize and manage the intramural and sport club programs, today about 1,000 students are hired each year to manage facilities, assist in the office, officiate intramural games, lead outdoor trips, teach fitness/wellness classes, supervise programs, and organize special events.
Student-led efforts also have contributed to RecSports’ growth and expansion. In 1985 students voted in favor of using student fees to build the Recreational Sports Center. For the first time, a RecSports facility was constructed with student fee money. Two subsequent votes in the following decades approved student fees for new or renovated construction, including the revamped Gregory Gymnasium and its striking Aquatic Complex, which opened in 2005.
Student fees assist in maintaining existing programs and facilities, but RecSports is continually exploring alternative approaches for funding new initiatives, projects, and programs. The Recreational Sports Leadership Team, chaired by Joe Bill Watkins, BA ’65, LLB ’68, includes past RecSports participants, employees, and friends. The team members come from diverse backgrounds, but all share a personal passion for the value of RecSports and a belief in its value to the overall UT experience. Each member has committed time and resources to help ensure the economic future of the organization.
“As a student I spent countless hours competing in Intramural Sports, and Gregory Gym was like a second home to me,” Watkins says. “Today I’m pleased to be able to give back to this student-centered organization and to continue its traditions for future generations of Longhorns.”
Be a Sport: Support RecSports
The Recreational Sports Leadership Team has identified three major areas in which individuals can make a difference:
Student Scholarships – There are boundless opportunities for anyone interested in endowing new scholarships. Base the criteria on your own interests or add to the value of current scholarships. To date, six scholarship funds for student employees have been endowed; three more are in progress.
RecSports Excellence Fund – The Excellence Fund represents crucial, unrestricted resources for the division. Because they are not earmarked for a specific purpose, gifts to the fund can be directed where they are most immediately needed. Giving opportunities include the purchase of a Gregory Gym paver or an Intramural Wall of Fame photo. Future plans include naming opportunities and an alumni golf tournament.
Special Projects – In the coming years RecSports will focus on its outdoor facilities, including a complete renovation of the Whitaker Fields and Tennis Complex, as well as Clark Field, and a potential Outdoor Leadership Development Center. Mini-campaigns will be launched for each of these facilities.
Learn more about RecSports and how you can support its programs at the RecSports website or by downloading a PDF of the RecSports case statement and campaign priorities. For further help, contact development officer Chris Maguire via email or at 512-475-7401.
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