1913 was a busy and influential year in athletics: the United States Football Association, now US Soccer, was formed; an amateur golfer won the US Open for the first time; and, more specifically to the field of recreation, The Ohio State University Department of Recreational Sports was founded on December 12, 1913, offering soccer, football, track, and cross country.
According to a December 10, 1913 article in The Ohio State University’s student newspaper, The Lantern, football coach John Wice, the first Rec Sports director, saw value in intramural sports because “every student should at least have had the chance during his college career to have obtained the social and moral benefits of membership on some athletic team and opportunities should be given…to form habits of recreational play which will be of value…after college.”
As campus recreation grew, both on OSU’s Columbus campus and across North America, new initiatives were continually being created in order to reach and involve as many students as possible. Two prime examples of these creative offerings at OSU were the 1960s creation of the Buck-i-Anna games, a weeklong event of informal competition in 16 sports such as swimming, canoeing, tennis, table tennis, fencing, and gymnastics. The winning team received a four-foot tall doll to parade around campus throughout the year. Similarly, the 1980s Buck-i-Robics group fitness program facilitated an explosion of participation at Ohio State.
One of the biggest strides made is in the area of equity and inclusivity—a key strategic value for the Association. A recent Lantern article quotes Senior Associate Director for Administration and Programs for Recreational Sports, Marci Shumaker, saying, “We’ve made them (the programs) accessible, and I think that’s the greatest thing…now we can say pretty much everything we offer, anybody can do and that hasn’t always been the case through history.”
During its 100-year legacy, Ohio State Rec Sports has been led by only six directors who have been supported by hundreds of staff. Many of these staff members have contributed to the growth of collegiate recreation on a national, as well as local, level. Former OSU Recreational Sports Director J. Michael Dunn served as NIRSA president in 1991. Mike Dunn also received the Honor Award, our Association’s highest honor, and his life-long dedication to advancing the profession of collegiate recreation and the student experience is still honored each year with the annual preconference J. Michael Dunn Student Professional Development Workshop, J. Michael Dunn Student Professional Development Workshop Scholarship, and J. Michael Dunn Endowed Professional Preconference Education Scholarships. He also pioneered the NIRSA Emerging Recreational Sports Leaders Conference in the early ’90s to prepare student leaders and young professionals as they take on the task of guiding others to live, work, and play in a multicultural society.
After a century of movement, the Office of Student Life’s Recreational Sports now encompasses five indoor facilities, 90 acres of outdoor space, more than 40 intramural sports, 60 sport clubs, 100 group fitness classes per week, massage therapy, personal training, aquatics, outdoor adventure, climbing, tennis, and community programming, allowing all students the opportunity to enact the department’s motto: live a life in motion.
Senior Associate Director of Facilities, David DeAngelo, told The Lantern that he would like to see the department grow further. “A hundred years from now,” he says, “when the next group of people is celebrating their bicentennial, hopefully they’ll be able to talk about even more facilities and expanded programs. We continue to put great people into the field.”
In celebration of the momentous milestone that is 100 years of providing extraordinary experiences in recreation, Ohio State Rec Sports will feature special events through April 2014. Already this semester students, staff, and faculty participated in Dancing Through the Decades. This group fitness class featured music from the 1950s to today; participants got on their “Blue Suede Shoes,” put their hands up and “Shout,” raised their heart rates to Aretha’s “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” moonwalked with the King of Pop, rocked back to the 90s with the Spice Girls, and brought it all back to present with Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” Additionally Rec Sports marked legendary Buckeye and Olympian Jesse Owens’ 100th birthday with a celebration and giveaways on September 12.
Currently, hundreds of students are signing up for the 100 Group Fitness Challenge Pledge to take 100 fitness classes during this academic year.
Future centennial events will include a centennial float for Ohio State’s Homecoming Parade, an indoor Beat Michigan Cycle Relay and Rally in November, and activity days on the birthdays of former and current directors of Recreational Sports at Ohio State.
Perhaps most notably, though, was the recent Centennial Celebration event held on October 25. Dave DeAngelo and Marci Shumaker began the event as Masters of Ceremonies. Javaune Adams-Gaston, Vice President for Student Life, Don Stenta, Director of Recreational Sports, NIRSA President Kathleen Hatch, and OSU student Jordan Boon all spoke to acknowledge, from their diverse perspectives, the importance of this occasion.
In commemoration of this event, Kathleen Hatch presented The Ohio State University with a Resolution on behalf of NIRSA stating our Association’s recognition of the university’s contributions to the profession of collegiate recreation and commending its “significant role in establishing collegiate recreation—the programs, facilities, and dedicated professionals—into a mainstay of today’s college experience.”
The tributes from these participants were followed by a reception and activities. The entire campus was invited to partake in the celebration, and the first 350 students to attend received a vintage edition Rec Sports prize bag. Students who completed event activities then had a chance to win a Columbus Blue Jackets game suite party.
As celebration events continue on the Ohio State campus, and as other institutions look toward planning their own centennials, we continue to acknowledge the institutions and professionals who have been instrumental in transforming collegiate recreation from a hodgepodge of opportunities that originally catered only to the needs of a small percentage of students to comprising a well-integrated, inclusive range of offerings that inspire millions of students every year.
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