LOUISVILLE, KY — Rec professionals from around the country gathered April 4-8 for the 2006 National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) Annual Conference & Recreational Sports Exposition. The show brought together a network of professional, student and associate members from the recreational sports field for five days of educational sessions, networking opportunities and visits with manufacturers.
More than 180 exhibitors showcased their products and services at the show, and more than 2,100 attended the convention in Louisville, KY.
“We've been getting awesome feedback,” Katherine Otten, NIRSA marketing assistant, said of conference evaluations from the five-day event.
Notable events of the show included two well-attended “big-picture” sessions. Heads of student affairs departments joined other leaders to discuss the value, benefit and role of recreational sports in higher education at the Senior Management Panel. At the Learning Reconsidered 2 session, Executive Director Dr. Gwen Dungy of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators led a panel discussion on the continued integration of all higher education's resources, including recreational sports programs, in the education of the whole student.
A panel presentation also drew a large crowd. More than 200 attended to hear all about officiating straight from the experts: Directors of Officiating for the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League and the Canadian Football League, plus members of the Amateur Softball Association, the National Federation of State High School Associations, the Professional Association of Volleyball Officials and NIRSA's Sports Officials' Development Program, Otten said.
NIRSA also held elections at the annual show. Thomas Kirch, director of recreational sports at Oregon State University and assistant professor in the School of Education was named president-elect; George Brown, director of university recreation at the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa, was elected region II vice president; Michael Waldron, associate director-business services in the department of recreational sports at Texas A&M University, became region IV vice president; Jennifer de-Vries, associate director of facilities, operation and services — physical activity and recreation services at the University of Oregon, was named region VI vice president; and Amy Jo Jenkins, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, was elected national student representative.
At the show, NIRSA kicked off its $1 Million Milestone campaign, which aims to bring the total amount of money raised by the NIRSA Foundation since its inception in 1992 beyond $1 million by December 2010, Otten said. Member contributions to the NIRSA Foundation at the conference totaled $18,430, a record amount that more than earned a $15,000 matching gift from the United States Tennis Association. The NIRSA foundation is a not-for-profit organization that provides opportunities through professional development, research, scholarships and educational resources.
Other events at the show included educational sessions on everything from facility management to research and marketing, to social events such as the NIRSA dance party and bowling, and to member committee and business meetings.
Minneapolis will serve as the site for the 2007 NIRSA Annual Conference & Recreational Sports Exposition. Based on member feedback, the show will run four days instead of five and will run from April 18-21, 2007.