Project Description

NIRSA Elections
NIRSA Elections

Candidate for Canadian Regional Student Leader

Kevin Wilson
University of Waterloo

Biography/Summary Resume

Kevin Wilson began his journey in recreation as a camp counsellor. This role influenced him to pursue a degree in recreation and leisure at Brock University. As a student at Brock, he progressed from a referee to league convener. He was also on the Board of Directors of the Student Union and represented students on the University Senate. After graduation he left the recreation space for a three-year career in business-to-business sales. Upon return to education, he pursued a master’s degree in sport management at the University of Windsor. While at Windsor he continued working in campus recreation and became involved in NIRSA as the small program’s representative. Currently, he is the Canadian Research and Assessment Team Lead while pursuing a PhD at the University of Waterloo.

Please provide a statement of your personal views on the role and contributions of collegiate recreation in higher education. In your response describe how collegiate recreation has influenced your development.

Having been involved in campus recreation I can attest to the personal growth and development that collegiate recreation provides. In the first year of my undergraduate degree, I was a shy student who was just looking to get through by passing all my classes. A colleague of mine in second year asked me whether I wanted an on-campus job. Initially, I was reluctant. However, after some discussion, he convinced me to apply as a volleyball referee. Fortunately, I was hired and as a recreation and leisure student I felt this was great for the resume. Ten years later and I am continuing my work in the industry as a researcher wanting to complete a PhD dissertation related to campus recreation.

Through the four years of my undergraduate degree at Brock University I developed with the department moving through the ranks of referee, head referee, and league convener. I was able to gain confidence, interpersonal skills, and knowledge of recreational sport delivery. I managed my first team of employees and have been involved in hiring and training. I’ve been asked to facilitate a workshop through campus recreation at the University of Windsor Lancer Leaders Conference. The experiences campus recreation has provided me have been valuable and I hope to provide future students with similar opportunities to help them grow and develop inside or outside of the industry.

Within the context of the NIRSA Strategic Plan, what area/item would you say is a major issue students face today? Please identify a student driven issue that we are currently face today and you would like to address during your term. How will you create solutions in your role on the Student Leadership Team to address it?

Within NIRSA’s strategic plan, the question is asked “How do we evolve our brand identity?” Over the last ten years in Canada, I have witnessed the position of campus recreation shift from purely providers of sport and physical health to become advocates of holistic student health and wellbeing. Today, between the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement, we are facing more turbulent times than ever before. However, with these turbulent times brings opportunity. An opportunity to be visionary leaders with creative solutions to address social problems and expand our offerings both on and off campus.

Recreation leaders have been leaders in the past. For example, Gray and Grenben (1974) suggested recreation practitioners should “focus on the great social problems of our time and develop programs designed to contribute to the amelioration of those problems” (p. 52). As it stands, campus recreation has taken a position offering “traditional” forms of sport and recreation. I believe campus recreation requires an additional shift in its programs and offerings. It requires practitioners to think creatively about how to engage non-participants and develop new program offerings. The shift has begun with offerings such as esports; however, it must continue to push the boundaries and offer non-traditional activities.

I wish to be an advocate for this shift and my desire is to conduct research regarding the repositioning of campus recreation services to identify new programs and services, best methods of communication, and partners which campus recreation departments should align themselves with.

In describing your contributions to NIRSA (i.e. presentations, volunteering, previous leadership roles, etc,), identify how your involvement and experiences meet the position criteria and qualify you to advocate for and serve the students of the Association.

I have six years of experience in campus recreation as I worked my way up from referee to league convener at Brock University and from sport manager (convener) to sport supervisor at the University of Windsor. In 2019–2020, I was the small programs student representative and provided content for the NIRSA Canada social media channel for that year. At the Brock University Student Lead-On and the Canadian Annual NIRSA Conference at UBC I facilitated a workshop, “Activities to help Engagement During Staff Training,” that provided both professionals and students with experiential learning activities for staff training.

At the Student Lead-On I also hosted a panel with professionals who discussed recreation as a profession for students who were interested in the field. While at the Canadian Annual Conference I hosted the student roundtable session. I am currently working on a research manuscript to submit to the NIRSA Journal (Recreational Sports Journal) that showed how the benefits of intramural sport participation contribute to student retention. Finally, I am hoping to conduct research in the campus recreation space for my PhD dissertation. These experiences show that I am qualified to advocate for and serve the students of the association.

As a Student Leader within NIRSA, you have the opportunity to leave a lasting impact on the field of collegiate recreation. With a focus on Student Member Recruitment & Retention, and Student Development what skills, talents, and perspectives would you bring to the Student Leadership Team?

As a PhD student with previous full-time workplace experience, I bring a unique skillset to the Student Leadership Team. First, I worked in business development for three years prior to coming back to school and I am not afraid to pick up the phone, build relationships, and speak my mind. I have also been involved in Toastmasters International to hone my interpersonal and communication skills. Further, as a PhD student with experience using both qualitative and quantitative methods, I will be able to collect, analyze, and report data if required. Finally, I have ten years of experience as a frontline employee providing community-based recreation programming.

NIRSA Elections: Kevin Wilson