Project Description

NIRSA Elections
NIRSA Elections

Candidate for Region VI Student Leader

Zachary Wallace
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Biography/Summary Resume

Zach Wallace began his passion with recreation as an intramural official and supervisor at York College of Pennsylvania. He found that watching new officials learn how to make calls, blow a whistle, and effectively control a game was a rewarding perk of his student position. In his time at York College he also worked with sport clubs as a member of the Student Senate’s Executive Board. He followed his passion across the country to being the Graduate Assistant for Intramurals and Sport Clubs at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he is pursuing a master’s degree in higher education

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.

From my first night as an undergraduate, when York College of Pennsylvania (YCP) closed the Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center for “Club Spartan,” to the final intramural meeting as a senior, and now as a graduate assistant at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), recreation has always been a part of my college experience.

In the first weeks of my first semester, everyone on our residence hall floor decided to form an intramural flag football team to see how we faired against the rest of the school. While our first season did not go well, the acquaintances that I began the season with became friends. We began to form a group that went to the dining halls together, worked out together, and lost intramural games together in every sport we could. I am still in touch with most of the group from that semester, and I really have to thank collegiate recreation for the assist in building lifelong friendships.

When I was hired as an intramural official, I quickly learned that being an official is not an easy job, and to take criticism from your peers on every call you make was hard for me at first. One situation that stays with me to this day is when I was talking to an intramural supervisor who helped me understand how to learn from the mistakes I make, and to remain confident in my ability to articulate a decision that I made. When I became a supervisor, I made sure to pass this guidance on to the officials who were questioning their own abilities. This was a challenge for me because everyone takes feedback and constructive criticism differently. Learning how to relate to people with different personalities and to give feedback in a way that each person will respond positively to was a skill that I had to develop over my five semesters as an intramural supervisor.

As Parliamentarian of YCP’s Student Senate Executive Board, I was tasked with assisting organizations who wanted to become registered student organizations on campus. In this position, I had the privilege to work with multiple sport clubs in their beginning stages. I was able to assist them with overcoming issues with member retention, funding, and administrative duties with parent organizations. I enjoyed helping students with leadership development and time management so that their clubs could be successful. My most memorable achievement while working with sport clubs at YCP was assisting a new ice hockey club start. I was able to help the president of the club attract members through marketing and with creating a solid constitution, and ultimately watched them make the playoffs their second year.

Through the last five years, recreation has been second only to my academics. I find that I utilize recreation for stress relief, bonding with friends, and competing with peers. Being an employee for recreation has helped me gain skills in leadership, conflict management, constructive criticism, thinking critically, and having confidence in my decision-making.

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?

The focus of NIRSA is promoting an environment where students can be successful. Whether it stems from professional development, service, or through inspiring healthy people and communities, student success is a focus of all four main priorities of the strategic plan.

NIRSA’s strategic plan states that it “Will evolve NIRSA’s structures to cultivate timely, relevant, and accessible learning opportunities.” I believe the best way to be successful regarding this priority is to increase the amount of student involved with NIRSA. While there may be a large number of students that are member of NIRSA, how many of them are actually involved?

I believe a great way to see more student involvement is to devise a plan to formulate guidelines for recreation-focused students to create professional organizations on campus. This would allow the student organization to collaborate with the recreation department as well as academic departments on campus. This has already been accomplished at some college’s, but the ideas have not spread to the smaller or commuter based campuses where it is more difficult to attract potential members.

I believe NIRSA has the ability to change student’s lives, but students are often unable to afford the expenses of travel, hotel, and conference fees. These organizations would form based around students who are working in recreation or desiring to pursue a career in recreation.

My goal would be to create an outline that would be distributed throughout the members of NIRSA so that students know where to begin. This outline would contain the benefits of becoming NIRSA members and the opportunities afforded to them through this fantastic organization that is the leader in collegiate recreation.

The initial problem for this plan is that every institution handles student organizations differently. To combat this issue, the distributed outline would be versatile to meet the needs of the students that begin these organizations. The main target students for starting these organizations would be those that are already involved with NIRSA and can articulate the benefits and opportunities students can expect. My focus would be to compile each regions’ specific opportunities so that students can have a specifically tailored list of things they can look forward to. This list would consist of scholarships, the mentor program, tournaments, and regional conferences to start, and these would be followed by small events that students could run on campus to raise awareness of their clubs and potentially raise funds.

These organizations would expand the student member population of NIRSA. It would also encourage more students to enroll in the mentor program, apply for scholarships, and promote student success at their institutions.

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.

Since this has been the first full year that I have been an active member in NIRSA, my direct contributions have been limited. I joined NIRSA last year and attended the Annual Conference in Denver. My experience there was eye opening. I learned about the opportunities that I could take advantage of, and the ways I could get involved. In the eight months since the conference, I have become a GA for sport clubs and intramurals at UNLV, presented and volunteered at the Region VI Conference, and applied and been offered a spot on the Officials Sub Committee at the Region VI Regional Flag Football Tournament at Arizona State.

At the Region VI Conference, I presented with the Club Sports Coordinator and the Assistant Director on Revolutionizing the Standard of Care for Sport Club Athletes. The process of applying, developing, and presenting at the conference was a learning one. I learned that to be able to present efficiently, it takes working in a team to accomplish a common goal. We achieved this goal through effective communication and brainstorming, and we were rewarded with a great presentation including highly-rated reviews. In this presentation, we were able to convey information to the attendees about the problems and pitfalls they can expect when trying to enhance the concussion and pre-participation care that goes into a sport club athlete’s time at college.

Without being directly involved with NIRSA, the director of my undergraduate recreation program personified the vision of NIRSA’s strategic plan. I was able to exemplify this as an Intramural Supervisor with the students I worked with every week. I learned to focus on constructive criticism to improve the way I helped our staff. I focused on building each student up to meet their potential in a personal way. I needed to understand each student’s inhibitions that prevented them from being the best they could be. I was able to use this strategy when I transitioned to my current position working with sport clubs by meeting with clubs individually to find out what they wanted to accomplish this year, and how we, as their sport club staff, could help them reach those goals. I feel that assisting the clubs made it obvious to them that I was there to serve their best interest and help them be successful, whether it was in recruitment, achieving competitive success, or gaining sponsorship from local and national companies.

Through my five years in campus recreation I have learned that the opportunities NIRSA offers for students success need to be taken advantage of by students more than they currently are. I feel that in the role of regional student leader I would be able to help these students understand what they are missing out on, and how to enroll in the programs, scholarships, and mentorships that are offered through the student member network.

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 the student leader for Region VI, I would bring a wide range of skills to the table to not only complete the project I mentioned in my response to question two, but to help the other regional student leaders and the national student leader be successful. My main skill is that I am someone who strives to achieve the best result out of any situation. I focus on the details of an idea and ask questions to work out if they implementation plan is right for the situation. When I am faced with a complex issue, I look for multiple different ways to solve it, and then brainstorm with my team to come up with the best way to implement the solution we agree upon.

I also would bring an attitude that promotes a team-first spirit. I have learned throughout my life that a team is only as strong as the bond between its members. If everyone on a team supports one another, deals with conflict in a respectful way, and believes in the vision set forth by its leader, we can be successful. Ultimately, the success of the team of student leaders is directly related to the experience that the students of NIRSA will have in the year we serve.

Another asset that I would bring to the team would be communication. I enjoy learning about the people I work with and understanding their goals. In a regional student leader position, I could make sure that I was helping the other leaders however they need, while also using their strengths to provide the best experience for the team. It is important to keep referring back to the work that we need to accomplish as a team. Our duties are to work for the students of NIRSA by assisting with the planning and execution of successful conferences, reach out to the student population, and then convey their concerns of the student population to the student leader and the regional representative, among other duties and projects.

Through my desire to achieve success in meeting and exceeding the responsibilities of this position, promoting a team first attitude to accomplish our goals, and through constant and effective communication, I believe that I can help the student leader team be successful in each of our specific duties.

NIRSA Elections: Zachary Wallace