Sandra Ondracka has served at Coordinator of Recreation at the University of Windsor since 1995. As a student leader in recreation during her undergraduate years (B.H.K.) at the University of Windsor returning to campus almost a decade later allowed for the opportunity to develop a program, services, and facilities that had not changed much over the years. The intramural program continued to be the strongest asset of the department while other areas such as fitness and wellness had not yet been developed.
Sandra’s post-secondary education in exercise (M.Sc.) and teaching (B.Ed) allowed for the needed expansion of the fitness programs, services, and facilities. The construction of a new fitness facility in 2005 allowed for the development of personal training, group fitness, and the opportunity for fitness certification. Sandra is once again involved in the development of a new $55 million dollar recreation facility which will offer increased opportunity for recreation programming in all dimensions of wellness. Collaboration has been essential in the recent expansion of recreation programs and facilities. Sandra is a representative for Athletics and Recreation on a variety of campus-wide committees, including Accessible Customer Service, Mental Health Implementation Committee, and the Student Leadership Committee as well as faculty committees including the Equity Committee, the Anti-Racism Committee, and the Risk Management Committee.
Sandra has been a professional member of NIRSA for over 20 years and has acquired the designation of Registered Collegiate Recreational Sports Professional. Sandra has attended the NIRSA Annual Conference on a regular basis, co-presenting at the NIRSA 2013 conference. Sandra is also involved with the Canadian Campus Recreation Association, hosting the 2017 Eastern Canadian Campus Recreation Association Conference at the University of Windsor.
Sandra lives in Windsor, Ontario, Canada along with her two daughters. Her passion for health and wellness started in her undergraduate years when she first started to teach fitness classes and continues to this day teaching classes for the university campus.
What do you see as opportunities in collegiate recreation and our Association? How would you collaborate with the Member Network team to address these issues?
Collegiate recreation plays a vital role in the cultivation of a lifelong commitment to health and wellness. Wellbeing is a multidimensional, inclusive, and ever growing body of knowledge that requires contributions from all stakeholders across Canada, United States, and globally. Recreational professionals require leadership and guidance as we continue to develop partnerships, invest in research, and provide educational opportunities for our student leaders. The NIRSA Member Network provides that direction, and by being actively involved in this network the communication of initiatives, opportunities for professional development, and engagement of student leaders can continue to be expanded into Canada specifically and our post-secondary institutions.
In describing your contributions to NIRSA, identify how your involvement and experiences meet the position criteria and qualify you to serve NIRSA in this role.
As Recreation Coordinator at the University of Windsor we have developed a set of values that closely align with NIRSA: partnership, leadership, engagement, sustainability, and equity. My involvement as a professional member of NIRSA through the attendance at national conferences, hosting student recreation conferences, and supporting students to attend NIRSA Student Lead-On conferences has allowed me to further cultivate recreation capacity within my own institution but also across the province.
Please share your ideas for engaging volunteers and identifying leaders in your region.
Engaging volunteers and leaders is crucial to the sustainability of the recreation profession. The cultivation starts with our student population. At the University of Windsor, I created a recreation management course using the NIRSA resources and additional Canadian resources which is available as a third-year course. This course has been successful in creating awareness, knowledge, and the development of the necessary skills within the student population of our faculty. Leadership opportunities for students are also important to the development of recreation capacity. Internships, cooperative education placements, and community partnerships allow for an incredible learning opportunity for students to experience recreation from a variety of perspectives.