Every year, the Association seeks to honor and highlight members who have made an impact by recognizing their outstanding service and achievements. NIRSA members are encouraged to nominate their outstanding colleagues and stellar programs for consideration as an award recipient or apply to have their facility or marketing endeavors recognized.

The deadline for nominations is November 16. The various awards committees will then take time to carefully consider applications and select deserving recipients. With the cancellation of an in-person conference for 2021, awards committees—in conjunction with headquarters staff—will determine how best to celebrate and commemorate award recipients in a virtual space.

We are excited to announce that this year that we have utilized one application platform for the NIRSA Annual Service Awards, Regional Awards of Merit, Horace Moody Awards, and William N. Wasson Student Leadership & Academic Awards. Making this change will help bring some consistency to the application process for these awards. The application will also provide an opportunity to upload letters of support from additional nominators—this means individuals wanting to nominate the same person or group do not have to complete separate applications; simply complete one application and upload up to three letters of support. Connect with your colleagues and create a strong nomination together!

A brief description of each award is below. To learn more about selection criteria, eligibility, and application or nomination requirements, follow the links below to each awards page.

Recognition for individuals

NIRSA Honor Award
The highest honor awarded by our Association is presented each year to a member for their outstanding achievements in the profession.

NIRSA Annual Service Awards
Acknowledging exceptional volunteer service in leadership and development of NIRSA programs, policies, events, special projects, or committees during the previous leadership year (May 1, 2019–April 30, 2020).

Regional Awards of Merit
Recognizing a professional from each NIRSA region who demonstrates remarkable performance or dedication on a state, provincial wide, or regional basis.

Horace Moody Awards
A way for students to recognize professional members who have made significant contributions to student development by their encouragement, support and performance.

William N. Wasson Student Leadership and Academic Awards
Recognizing exceptional students actively involved with the department of recreational sports on university and college campuses.

NIRSA Foundation Leadership Award
Recognizing an individual or group that has demonstrated phenomenal dedication to the NIRSA Foundation and its mission.

The Sarah Fain Distinguished Service Award
Celebrating the dedication of a NIRSA Championship Series volunteer.

NIRSA Research and Assessment Award
Recognizing a NIRSA member who has made extraordinary contributions toward advancing research and assessment initiatives on their campus and/or for NIRSA.

USTA/NIRSA Tennis Ace Awards
Recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of NIRSA institutional, professional, and student members who have implemented tennis participation and promotion of the USTA Tennis On Campus program.

Recognition for schools

Outstanding Facilities Awards
Recognizing excellence in newly-constructed, renovated, or expanded recreation facilities at NIRSA member institutions.

Creative Excellence Awards
Recognizing outstanding marketing and advertising materials published by the NIRSA membership.

The Creative Excellence Awards application remains closed at this time.  Due to the impacts of COVID-19 the committee is looking to take a different approach this year.  Check the awards’ webpage in early October for the status of this award application. 


Applications and nomination materials are currently open and available. Deadline for all awards is November 16. Please consider nominating a deserving NIRSA member or applying for a NIRSA Award today!


  • For more information, please contact NIRSA Leadership Programs Coordinator Chelsea Hansson.
Leadership Programs Coordinator at NIRSA | NIRSA Profile

Chelsea Hansson is the Leadership Programs Coordinator at NIRSA.