By Teri Bladen, Jenny Kuzmic, Drew Salvador, Mike Wong, and Nazifa Islam

Over 2,600 attendees and 650 exhibitor representatives had a fantastic time building “A Strong Core, A Bright Future” in Kissimmee, Florida at the 67th  NIRSA Annual Conference & Recreational Sports Expo. NIRSA members came together from all around the world from April 3–6 for what 2015–2016 NIRSA President Stan Shingles calls “the NIRSA family reunion.” Members had a chance to learn, network, and socialize together—we truly had a wonderful time in Florida!

This year, thirteen NIRSA 2016 attendees volunteered to take part in a new “I write for NIRSA” conference campaign. This campaign aims to bring more personal looks at various conference events to all Association members, whether you were able to attend NIRSA 2016 or are considering what you might find at NIRSA 2017.

Did you miss out on visiting the Career Opportunity Center this year? Don’t worry, Samantha Wallace—Coordinator for Youth and Activity Programming at the University of Arizona—writes all about her experience at the 2016 COC. Curious about what Take a Student to Lunch/Meet a Mentee for Life is like? Get ready to learn all about how this premier networking opportunity went for three different NIRSA members!

So read all about the 2016 NIRSA Annual Conference & Recreational Sports Expo—even if you were there, this is your chance to see it in an entirely new light!

Going out with a bang

Over 125 attendees started the last day of NIRSA 2016 participating in the Mark Fletcher Fun Run/Walk. Runners and walkers alike were ready at the starting line at 6:30am—everyone had a lot of fun completing the 5K. Here’s Drew again to tell you all about it!

Teri Bladen is also back to share her experience attending the Mark Fletcher Fun Run/Walk.

Following the 5K, and after a morning of educational sessions, it was time for the Closing General Session. Mike Wong is back to recap the details of this memorable closing session.

Jenny Kuzmic, Fitness and Wellness Coordinator at the University of Arizona, has even more information about Dennis Snow’s speech for you.

The Honor Award Banquet is the final event of every NIRSA Annual Conference, and it took place only hours after the Closing General Session. The banquet gave members a chance to dress up in semi-formal attire and get together to celebrate both the 2016 Honor Award recipient and the hard work of other Association leaders. This year’s Honor Award recipient was Michael “Mick” Deluca, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Campus Life at UCLA. Rick McNeil, Director at Michigan State University, gave a funny and heartwarming speech detailing Mick’s history in collegiate recreation and with NIRSA before the man of the hour himself took the stage and delivered his acceptance speech.

While the official leadership transition takes place on May 1, the banquet was also host to the symbolic passing of the gavel. Outgoing NIRSA President Stan Shingles welcomed incoming President Stacey Hall, and thanked Association leaders for all their hard work over the past year.

Looking forward to National Harbor

We hope this year’s “I write for NIRSA” conference campaign has reminded you of how wonderful your time in Kissimmee was and made you look forward to another fantastic conference in National Harbor, Maryland in 2017. In National Harbor, there will be even more amazing educational sessions, inspiring speakers, a great Expo Hall, and so many fun networking opportunities!

Consider joining the ongoing “I write for NIRSA” campaign—lend your voice to the Association and gain professional development by writing feature articles for the NIRSA News. This is a fantastic opportunity to bring your unique perspective to all Association members. We would love to hear from you! If you’re interested in writing for NIRSA, please contact NIRSA Communications Coordinator Nazifa Islam.

Members can relive some fantastic NIRSA 2016 memories by checking out the NIRSA Facebook page, and the @nirsalive Instagram and Twitter feeds; a search for the #NIRSA2016 hashtag will bring up great moments from Kissimmee. Photos taken by Steven Miller, NIRSA’s official conference photographer, will be available in a matter of weeks—keep an eye on the NIRSA News for that announcement!

The Gaylord Palms was the perfect place to reconnect with friends and colleagues, to reaffirm our commitment to our strategic values, to strengthen our core competencies, and to support the important work NIRSA members are doing every day in the collegiate recreation field. We had a wonderful time building “A Strong Core, A Bright Future” with our NIRSA family and cannot wait to see everyone again next February in National Harbor for NIRSA 2017!

If you have questions or comments about NIRSA 2016 or NIRSA 2017, please contact NIRSA Director of Professional Development Kristen Gleason.