2020 has brought change for all of us. Maybe you’re training student employees from your kitchen table. Maybe you’ve channeled your greatest Alex Trebek impression to run an intramural sports trivia night. Your esports knowledge may have grown exponentially. You probably have a preferred face mask and video conference platform. All that being said, I hope that you’re still engaging in conversations around social justice and racial inequality. And if you’re looking for resources to help promote your growth, make sure to check out NIRSA’s on-going professional development opportunities.

But 2020 has also brought us the opportunity to slow down and make positive changes for the NIRSA Championship Series. It’s been a year (at least) since anyone has applied to volunteer at a NIRSA Championship Series tournament. The next time you apply, applications for tournament volunteers will look very different than they have in the past (very 2020 of us). Some applications for regional and national basketball tournaments are open now!

While you may or may not be applying this year, we wanted to provide an inside look into these new applications so you know what to expect in the future. These changes align with the NIRSA Championship Series long-term vision—Series 2.0—and will help us achieve our promise to provide “premier championship experiences delivered by qualified experts within a safe and inclusive environment.

Consolidation of applications

To better communicate the impact of involvement and foster a culture of assessment and research, we have consolidated applications. You can expect to see one application (with a good amount of skip logic) for all national directors across sports, one application for national staff, one application for national officials, and one application for regional positions. This will help us better track staff selection across sports and it means one stop shopping for you as the applicant!

About you section

The demographic section of applications asks a few more questions to help ensure our staff selection is representative across many demographics including gender identity, race/ethnicity, NIRSA region, functional area, and years in collegiate recreation. This information will also help to guide the NIRSA Championship Series as we continue to strive for diverse representation of staff and officials at our events and in our leadership positions.

Position-specific questions

We have always asked officials and officials committee members about their officiating experience, but other committees haven’t been asked about their relevant experiences. To promote a more holistic application, you will be asked about your relevant professional experiences. Additionally, positions requiring specialized skills will be asked specific questions (think: social media experience for the media relations team or tournament scheduling experience for the competition committee). Director applicants will be asked questions about supporting the development of committee members.

Social justice focused questions

Each application has at least one question rooted within social justice. These questions were created alongside the newly formed Social Justice Task Force. Be ready to consider how you will present diverse stories without tokenism; address biased player language; combat personal biases through the officials’ evaluation process; or create safe and inclusive environments in general.

In line with our NIRSA Championship Series principle of “open and honest communication” I will be the first to tell you that these new applications are a little longer and more detailed than they’ve been in the past. The goal is not to make it more challenging or time consuming, but instead allow you the opportunity to reflect on your experiences and show your skills as a volunteer! We hope that these new applications also allow for applicants from diverse backgrounds and experiences to showcase their skills and volunteer with the NIRSA Championship Series.


Coordinator of Instructional & Inclusive Programs at University of Wisconsin-Madison | NIRSA Profile

Abby Van Note is currently Coordinator of Instructional & Inclusive Programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.