preconference opportunities

NIRSA Annual Conference offers many different activities and workshops to engage with presenters and other attendees before the main conference begins.

Click on a preconference category to navigate to that section.

Preconference Workshops

workshops full-day
workshops half-day morning
workshops half-day afternoon

Preconference Activities

facility tours
activities

About Knowledge Levels

Knowledge levels are communicated to further describe the level of discourse for a given program. They are intended to help attendees determine if the program is appropriate given their knowledge base of or level of experience with the topic.

Foundational

Sessions provide broad information, awareness, and understanding of a topic—limited or no prior knowledge or experience of the subject is perfectly acceptable. This level is appropriate for students or coordinators with limited experience of the subject area who want to learn fundamentals and for mid-career managers and directors looking to fill in gaps to solidify their skillset.

Practical

Sessions focus on practical application, comprehension, and implementation of ideas—some knowledge and experience in the subject area is required. This level is appropriate for coordinators, mid-level managers, and directors in their fields who have an established degree of competence. It’s also for those seeking to build on, apply, or enhance existing knowledge.

Strategic

Sessions focused on strategic management and leadership skills development are for attendees with significant expertise, knowledge and experience in their fields. This level is appropriate for mid-level managers and directors and those aspiring to attain the knowledge to advance to such positions.

workshops

full-day programs

NIRSA CEUs: 6.0
Cost: $65 (lunch is included)
Time: 9:00am–3:00pm
Location: Phoenix Convention Center
Cap:  120

Preregistration is required to attend this event.

J. Michael Dunn Student Professional Development Workshop

Presented by
NIRSA’s Student Professional Development Committee

Mike believed in developing, mentoring, and coaching students—the importance of student development was one of his core beliefs and a significant part of his philosophy. He dedicated his life to helping students grow and learn—both personally and professionally—with the mindset that he was investing in future generations of NIRSA leaders. He was a co-creator of the Student Professional Development Program; this workshop has clearly demonstrated over the years the ability professionals have to touch the lives of student attendees at a NIRSA Annual Conference and motivate them to become the next generation of NIRSA leaders.

The goal of this full-day workshop is to inspire NIRSA student members to continue learning about NIRSA and the collegiate recreation profession as well as to enhance their self-awareness through motivational interactions with their peers and with professionals. During this workshop, attendees can expect to explore various leadership topics, the values of the Association, and how to build a strong network within the field.

Knowledge Level
Foundational

Learning Outcomes
Through participation in this program participants will be able to:

  1. Explain the history of NIRSA.
  2. Identify future NIRSA involvement opportunities that will support their skill development and career goals.
  3. Learn how to incorporate NIRSA values into their daily professional lives.

Prerequisites
N/A

NIRSA CEUs: 6.0
Cost: $65 (lunch is included)
Time: 8:00am–4:00pm
Location: Phoenix Convention Center
Cap:  25

Preregistration is required to attend this event.

Executive Education for Aspiring (and New) Directors

Presented by
Maureen McGonagle, CRSS, CENTERS, LLC At DePaul University
Eric Nickel, CRSS James Madison University
Stan Shingles, CRSS, Central Michigan University

There are many competencies to master in order to be considered for a director position. Participating in this workshop will introduce you to needed competencies, help you evaluate your skillset, help you create a plan for mastering those needed competencies, and aid in developing a mentoring network that will help you advance your career goals. Focused discussions will be held on topics such as organizational culture, communication, political positioning, relationship building, and executive leadership.

Knowledge Level
Strategic

Learning Outcomes
Through participation in this program participants will be able to:

  1. Describe at least three competencies necessary for success in a departmental leadership role.
  2. Identify at least two goals to prepare for a departmental leadership role.
  3. Ide­­­­­­ntify at least two learning points that will affect future work.

Prerequisites
This opportunity is for experienced mid-level managers with at least seven years of full-time/professional experience. Experience supervising full-time staff is helpful, but not mandatory. New directors (0–2 years of experience) or directors of small programs (0–3 reports) might also find this preconference workshop helpful.

NIRSA CEUs: 7.0
Cost: $80 (lunch is included)
Time: 8:00am–4:00pm
Location: Phoenix Convention Center
Cap:  75

Preregistration is required to attend this event.

Women Leading Women—To MOVE! Motivation, Ownership, Victories, Encouragement

Presented by
Stefani Plummer, California Baptist University
Tiffany Lomax, Delaware State University
Elizabeth Greenlee, Radford University
Kari Osborne Albarado, East Tennessee State University
Shelbi Long, Sonoma State University

Let’s MOVE! As women, we are on the move—but let’s break it down! Let’s identify your Motivation (What’s the “why” behind your passion?), Ownership (Do you know your leadership style and how it impacts others?), Victories (What are they? Celebrate them! How do we “brag?”) and Encouragement (Can we do more to be there for ourselves and others?). Lunch will include time for small group talks with topics pre-determined by attendees. Join us for an inspirational time of intentional and interactive talks. Come ready to participate, build connections, and be refreshed!

Knowledge Level
Foundational

Learning Outcomes
Through participation in this program participants will be able to:

  1. Identify your personal leadership style and the impact it has on others.
  2. Identify a resource or relationship to enhance professional development and identify at least one woman with whom you would like to build a relationship with after the workshop.
  3. Integrate positive practices offered by the MOVE strategy into their personal leadership style, and thereby more effectively advocate for yourself and others.

Prerequisites
N/A

workshops

half-day morning programs

NIRSA CEUs: 4.0
Cost: $30 (includes coffee)
Time: 8:00am–12:00pm
Location: Phoenix Convention Center
Cap:  30

Preregistration is required to attend this event.

Small Programs Campus Rec: Where Do I Even Start?

Presented by

Christopher Crume, RCRSP, Denison University
Alicia Rossow, RCRSP, Florida Southern College
Mila Padgett, University of South Carolina Aiken

So, you just got asked to start a campus recreation program from scratch and you don’t know where to start. Join us for a workshop, built for small programs (enrollment of less than 5,000 or an FTE staff of five or fewer) that focuses on theory, tactics, and practical skills to get you going in the right direction. This workshop will be blend traditional presentation and roundtable discussion to help you network with your small programs colleagues and give you a jump start on beginning your program.

This is one of two preconference programs geared towards small program professionals. The afternoon program is “Small Programs Campus Rec: Using the Framework of Health and Wellbeing to Position Your Department on Campus.” Participants may register for both programs.

Knowledge Level
Foundational

Learning Outcomes
Through participation in this program participants will be able to:

  1. Identify elements that are key in implementing a campus recreation program.
  2. Develop knowledge and skills for operating a program.
  3. Learn how to develop key relationships on campus to maximize your program.

Prerequisites
N/A

NIRSA CEUs: 4.0
Cost: $30 (includes coffee)
Time: 8:00am–12:00pm
Location: Phoenix Convention Center
Cap:  60

Preregistration is required to attend this event.

The NIRSA Championship Series Academy

Presented by

Scott Flickinger, Cornell University
Jacob Tingle, CRSS, EdD, Trinity University
Ashley Lax, University of Wisconsin-Madison

In this active and engaging preconference workshop, participants will learn important skills required to be a successful Championship Series volunteer—such as how to craft a successful volunteer application and what skills and experiences make a quality volunteer. Additionally, by attending the session, participants will improve transferable skills—like effective communication and teamwork—that will serve them well beyond volunteering with the Championship Series. This workshop is open to and intended for all NIRSA professionals, including those from all areas of campus recreation like marketing, facilities, aquatics, and assessment.

Knowledge Level
Foundational

Learning Outcomes
Through participation in this program participants will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate strong communication skills to actively engage in required work team tasks.
  2. Develop teamwork skills required to execute various duties vital to the Series’ regional and national events.
  3. Create a Series volunteer application using the successful elements and strategies learned in the session.

Prerequisites
N/A

NIRSA CEUs: 4.0
Cost: $30 (includes coffee)
Time: 8:00am–12:00pm
Location: Phoenix Convention Center
Cap:  80

Preregistration is required to attend this event.

The Power of Data: Using Assessment and Evaluation in Collegiate Recreation

Presented by

April Lovett, Florida State University
A’Naja Newsome, RCRSP, University of South Florida
Darryl Lovett, Florida State University

This preconference workshop will give participants a brief overview of the assessment process before diving deep into strategies to create buy-in and start building a culture of assessment in the department. Participants will understand how self-determination theory plays an important role in building assessment competencies; how to create data-collection instruments that are practical, sensible, and actionable; and learn how to set measurable program area goals that feed into the larger departmental strategic plan. Participants will also discuss the ethics of data collection and reporting. Leave with deliverables that can be adapted to meet your own departmental needs.

Knowledge Level
Strategic

Learning Outcomes
Through participation in this program participants will be able to:

  1. “Close the loop” and utilize assessment data for decision making, program improvement, and strategic planning.
  2. Identify at least one basic program goal, one program advancement goal, and one student learning outcome for your program areas.
  3. Articulate the ways in which assessment can be made practical, sensible, and actionable in your department.

Prerequisites
N/A

workshops

half-day afternoon programs

NIRSA CEUs: 3.0
Cost: $30 (includes afternoon snack)
Time: 1:00pm–4:30pm
Location: Phoenix Convention Center
Cap:  30

Preregistration is required to attend this event.

Small Programs Campus Rec: Using the Framework of Health and Wellbeing to Position Your Department on Campus

Presented by

Christopher Crume, RCRSP, Denison University
Alicia Rossow, RCRSP, Florida Southern College
Mila Padgett, University of South Carolina Aiken

Now that your program is up and running, learn how to make strategic partnerships and use health and wellbeing to begin the larger conversations on your campus. This session will focus on tools and strategies to position your department on your campus. How do I get a seat at the table? What can I do to tell my story? How do I expand my programs? If these are questions you face on your campus, join us for this interactive presentation focused on skills, topics, and discussions about positioning your small program (enrollment of less than 5,000 or an FTE staff of five or fewer) for continued success on your campus.

This is one of two preconference programs geared towards small programs. Participants may register for both programs.


Knowledge Level
Strategic

Learning Outcomes
Through participation in this program participants will be able to:

  1. Learn about resources that support and grow recreational programming on campus through research and assessment-based tactics.
  2. Learn how to determine what constitutes a healthy program and how to communicate that message.
  3. Develop strategies to stimulate growth for programs with less resources.

Prerequisites
N/A

NIRSA CEUs: 3.0
Cost: $30 (includes afternoon snack)
Time: 1:00pm–4:30pm
Location: Phoenix Convention Center
Cap:  50

Preregistration is required to attend this event.

The Unified Sports School: An in-depth curriculum to bring Unified Sports to your campus

Presented by

Gabrielle Sokol, University of Mississippi
Sean Graninger, University of Oregon

This program is an introduction to Unified Sports; it’s a workshop on how to implement a Unified Sports program on campus. There will be an in-depth discussion about creating, facilitating, and building a program at specific universities as well as discussion about contributing to state games and outside opportunities. The program will address how inclusive programming in sport can impact a campus community and how to program beyond sports for the universities looking to expand. This preconference program is for students and professionals who are passionate about expanding their knowledge of inclusive programming.

Knowledge Level
Foundational

Learning Outcomes
Through participation in this program participants will be able to:

  1. Understand the concept and impact of Unified Sports and collegiate recreation programs.
  2. Learn how to apply the appropriate methods when working with Special Olympics, Unified Sports, and Special Olympics athletes.
  3. Identify the best way to develop an effective Unified Sports program at their institution.

Prerequisites
N/A

NIRSA CEUs: 3.0
Cost: $30 (includes afternoon snack)
Time: 1:00pm–4:30pm
Location: Phoenix Convention Center
Cap:  80

Preregistration is required to attend this event.

Safe Zone Training for Your Campus Rec and Wellness Program

Presented by

Allie Bogard, RCRSP, Montana State University
Erin Patchett, CRSS, RCRSP, Colorado State University-Fort Collins
Zack Sephton, Queens University

The program will include activities, discussions, and Q&A sessions. The goal of this session is to help attendees implement Safe Zone training on their campuses, subsequently creating a healthy and welcoming work environment for LGBTQ+ individuals within recreation department—whether they’re employees, participants, or visitors!


Knowledge Level
Practical

Learning Outcomes
Through participation in this program participants will be able to:

  1. Learn how to create a Safe Zone training for your campus recreation and wellness program.
  2. Learn how to articulate to your campus’ decision makers the benefits of creating an LGBTQ+-inclusive environment within the recreation and wellness programs.
  3. Learn how to have effective conversations within your department to ensure—for the benefit of their stakeholders—that staff members are acting appropriately as allies.

Prerequisites
N/A

activities

facility tours

Cost: $70 (lunch is included)
Time: 7:00am–4:00pm
Location: Meet at Phoenix Convention Center
-Buses begin loading at 6:30am
-Buses depart at 7:00am, promptly
Cap:  105

Preregistration is required to attend this event.

University of Arizona Facility Tour

Attendees will travel south to Tucson and visit the University of Arizona Campus Recreation Center as well as the newly opened NorthREC Center. This tour also includes visits to Sitton Field and Bear Down Field as well as a tour of the Athletic Facilities.

Cost: $60 (lunch is included)
Time: 9:00am–1:30pm
Location: Meet at the Phoenix Convention Center
-Buses begin loading at 8:30am
-Buses depart at 9:00am, promptly
Cap:  105

Preregistration is required to attend this event.

Phoenix Area Facility Tour

Attendees will visit the Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center, which features wheelchair-accessible weight machines, an aquatic area equipped with lifts/elevators, accessible locker rooms, and more. Ability360 is an organization that advocates personal responsibility by, and for, people with disabilities as a means to independence. Attendees will also visit Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Fitness Complex on this tour.

activities

other opportunities

Cost: $45 (lunch is included)
Time: 7:30am–2:00pm
Location: Meet at Phoenix Convention Center
-Buses begin loading at 7:00am
-Buses depart at 7:30am, promptly
Cap:  33 (each van holds 11 individuals)

Preregistration is required to attend this event.

Day-hike at Camelback Mountain

Take advantage of the beautiful Arizona sunshine and hike Phoenix’s iconic Camelback Mountain.* This hike is about 1.5 miles and gains about 1250 feet in elevation, offering stunning views of the valley below and surrounding mountain ranges. The hike will take 2–3 hours depending on an individual’s fitness level and how many photo breaks you take.

After the hike, replenish yourself with lunch at Culinary Dropout. This is a Phoenix-area favorite featuring classic American food with an edgy twist.

*Note: Temperatures may reach upwards of 80°F and the Arizona sun is no joke. Bring a large water bottle, sunblock (to reapply mid-hike), wear layered clothing, a large hat, and closed-toed hiking/tennis shoes.

Cost: TBD
Details: Coming soon!

NIRSA Foundation Golf Tournament

Check out the NIRSA Foundation pages for information about the golf tournament that takes place on Saturday, April 18 and is among your conference registration options.

Cost: Free
Time: 8:30am–11:30am

More information coming soon!

Community Service Project

Want to make a difference in the community while attending the NIRSA Conference? Come with friends to the Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA and conduct minor maintenance such as painting to keep the building looking new. It originally opened in 1907 when Phoenix had a population of 8,496! Children’s toys are also always in need of repair, organization and deep cleaning.

The Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA is one of the few Y’s across the nation to maintain a housing program for men and women, which furthers the mission of promoting youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Come on out for not only a great time, but support an outstanding cause.

Any Questions?

Please forward additional questions to NIRSA Director of Meetings & Events Sierra Smith.