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Rec Life Fall 2012

Howdy! The Rec Sports Family grows each semester with the welcome of new student staff, sport club members and the graduation of those we will miss; our hope is to always stay connected. This year has been very exciting as we celebrated the 10th anniversary of our Rec Sports Reunion. Over 200 former and alumni student staff and club members attended the pre-game tailgate, then came back after the game to mingle with family and friends and enjoy a late lunch. In addition to the anniversary, the Judo Club celebrated their golden year. Fifty years ago the club was established, and today it is stronger than ever. With the help of the Texas A&M Foundation’s marketing staff, led by Megan Kasperbaur, a new video was developed in support of the Judo Clubs Scholarship Endowment. In addition, this fall, the Texas A&M Foundation Spirit Magazine will include an article featuring the club. To see more about the Judo Club, please visit: Over the years, we have received an immense amount of positive support and “friend-raising” from our Sport Clubs and student staff. In particular, staying connected has served as a catalyst for the growth of the Sport Club Endowments. This semester, special recognition goes to the Men’s Volleyball Club. Former members made a goal to connect with and support the current club and we look forward to their future success. If you are interested in supporting an existing Department of Recreational Sports Endowment Fund or would like to establish a new endowment, contact me and we can discuss your proposal. The staff of the Department of Recreational Sports wants to express our thanks and appreciation to all that have supported some aspect of the program. Your donations have provided student staff scholarships, sport clubs scholarships, rock wall summer camp grants and student leadership development opportunities. The expansion of the Student Recreation Center has begun! We are currently in the design process, but once it is complete, a preview will be released. For updates, keep an eye on the Rec Sports website, Wishing you a Happy Holiday season,

James M. Welford Director of Development Department of Recreational Sports

contents Tailgating


New Faces




Judo Club


The Everyday Aggie




Rugby Scholarship




Sailing Team


Rock Camp


Communications Intern and Project Manager - Patricia Stepaniuk Graphic Artist - Kendra Spaw Communications Coordinator/Editor - Kelly VonDrehle Marketing Director - Michelle Briggs Director of Development - James Welford

Rec Sports Tailgate Encouraging Relaxation and Camaraderie

When the weekend arrives, most of us long for a place to relax, unwind and spend time with the people closest to us. Every fall, many of us do this by enjoying a football game, either on the television or in attendance, but what better way to embrace the scent of victory than with a tailgate?

Fall 2013

Tailgate Schedule

Tailgating has been a long-standing tradition at Texas A&M University, and in 2002, Rec Sports joined that tradition with the help of James Welford, Director of Development. A tailgate was a perfect fit, providing a place for former student workers and club members to come back to, as well as a way for us to fundraise—or as Welford puts it, “friend-raise.” Tailgates reinforce the notion of connectedness and togetherness, and Welford cherishes this aspect of the tailgate. “I love talking to people and just visiting. I love seeing them light up when we talk about things that we have done.” The memories will last a lifetime, and Rec Sports looks forward to creating many more at future tailgates. One particular Saturday stands out each fall: the Rec Sports Reunion weekend. For nine football seasons, Rec Sports has scheduled one weekend full of activities—including the tailgate—for alumni and their families to enjoy. To Welford, the reunion is extremely important because it provides an opportunity to update alumni and let them know what we are doing now as well as to learn what they did for us when they were here. The Department of Recreational Sports provides all reunion attendees a complimentary weekend pass to the Student Recreation Center. Rec Sports would like to invite you to visit our tailgates! Before each home game, our tents are set up directly in front of the Student Recreation Center. For more information, contact James Welford at or 979.862.1856.



Sat, Aug. 31


Sat, Sept. 7

Sam Houston State

Sat, Sept. 14


Sat, Sept. 21


Sat, Oct. 19


Sat, Oct. 26


Sat, Nov 2


Sat, Nov. 9

Mississippi State

For the fall of 2013, the Rec Sports Reunion is set to take place on Saturday, Nov. 9 when Texas A&M University takes on Mississippi State. REConnect with Rec Sports alumni.

Scan our QR Code below for a map of the Rec Sports tailgate location. See you there!


Friendly faces New Graduate Assistants Melissa Bellows Graduate Assistant, Fitness

“Because I am studying nutrition, I have been able to help oversee our new Nutrition Education Sessions with our Registered Dietitian, Meghan Windham. I believe that nutrition and fitness go hand in hand, and I am able to bring this knowledge to the program.”

Nick Heiar Graduate Assistant, Intramural Sports

“Simply put, the real reason I wanted to get back into Rec Sports is because I truly love being a part of the campus atmosphere. I missed being around the students, being around for those college-football Saturdays, and the general buzz that you don’t forget about a college campus. Rec Sports epitomizes that atmosphere, and I’m just happy to be involved in all of it again.”

Joe Pederson Graduate Assistant, Marketing

“I have classmates who serve as GAs at the Rec, and hearing about their experiences working for Rec Sports made it seem like a great place to work and gain experience working in the sport industry.”

REc sports family reunion 1970 - 1979

A Chance to Reconnect with the Past The most notable thing about Texas A&M University is the Aggie network. From the time we begin our careers at this institution to the time we leave, we are constantly building our network. Friends, professors and colleagues all fit within the network that is the Aggie family, and as with any family, a good reunion is necessary to keep in touch with those distant relatives.

1980 - 1989

1990 - 1999

Since 2002, the Rec Sports branch of the Aggie family has held a reunion each fall, inviting former student staff and sport club members to come back and visit the place they used to call home. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the reunion, and it was stronger than ever. With former students dating as far back as the class of ’56, they came back to remember their era and embrace the new one upon us.

2000 - 2009

2010 - Present

We invite you all to join us next year for our 11th Annual Rec Sports Reunion, set to take place Saturday, November 9, 2013 when Texas A&M University takes on Mississippi State. Come reconnect with those you may have lost touch with and strengthen the bond that is the Rec Sports family! For more information, please contact James Welford at 979.862.1856 or


First Judo Club

established in 196


do club


ju current Parry,



Sean Parry, current judo club member

“I want to see our graduates become successful.” -Bob Perez, Head Coach


golden year

In 1962, Texas A&M University got its first taste of Judo, and in August of that year, the official Texas A&M Judo Club was established. Fifty years later, the club is stronger than ever, having gained national and international recognition. These accomplishments prove that the club has left its mark on the Judo circuit, but it was not always this way; every legacy has a beginning and an evolution. In 1988, a new addition to the Judo Club took it from good to great. Dr. Gary Berliner, who, at the time, was a medical student at Texas A&M University, was looking for something to balance his heavy academic load. Berliner had participated in Judo for many years prior to his time at Texas A&M University. Having previously competed on national and international levels, Berliner saw potential in the Texas A&M Judo Club, which at the time was “organized but not strong.” Berliner integrated a teaching style that turned the de nova athletes into national competitors. “We went very rapidly from novice players to national competitors in two years,” Berliner said. Along with his teaching program, Berliner established a perpetual memorial trophy to give players something to work toward. “I wanted to honor the antecedent as well as the current folks.” The first winner of the Wiley Cunnigan/Gary Berliner Award was current Judo Club coach Bob Perez. Perez, or “sensei” as he is sometimes referred to by the club members, is the longest standing coach the Texas A&M Judo Club has had, and by the look in his eyes while being interviewed, it’s easy to see why. Perez is a composed and humble man; one who invites you in with his eyes and keeps you involved with his stories. Everyone that has had the opportunity to meet Perez has had nothing but the best to say about him. Perez has seen great success with the Judo Club and has earned several coaching titles for the USA National Collegiate and National teams. In 1984, Perez became a member of the club. Eight years later, in 1992, Perez advanced to the role of head coach, stating, “It fell into my hands.” Perez retained Berlinger’s basic teaching methods but incorporated his own adjustments to fit his style. Perez has helped the club grow not only in size, but in diversity as well. While being interviewed, Perez looked around the room with pride

as he named the countries represented by club members, including Canada, Iran and Brazil. It seems that the Texas A&M Judo Club has captured the diversity that this university promotes daily. Over the last ten years, the Judo Club has achieved great things, including top-three placement at national competitions, several individual national champions, and even two former members advancing to the Olympic trials in 2008. The club has become more stable, according to Perez. “When I started, there were maybe three or four people that would come out, and that was a good night. Now we have twelve to fifteen each night, and those are different people.” Currently, the club practices four nights per week, with various weekend competitions throughout each semester. None of these accomplishments would have been possible without the support of the alumni, who came together in 2006 to establish an endowment fund. The endowment has helped secure the financial future of the club and created scholarship opportunities for its members. Nathan Westbrook, current Judo Club president and team captain, has personally reaped the benefits of the endowment, having been awarded one of the 2012 Judo Club scholarships. Earning the scholarship has afforded Westbrook the opportunity to study and commit [to the club] without having to worry as much about finances. The 2012 club was able to award four scholarships, and looking into the future, the coaching staff and members hope to hand out even more. Dan Gomez, assistant coach, hopes to add scholarships for all the men’s spots and add women’s spots as well. With all the accomplishments this club and the alumni have achieved over the past fifty years, this goal seems attainable. Each year, the coaches plan for changes to help the Judo Club reach their goal of becoming National Champions. In order to do this, they will need the continued support of alumni and the community. “We want to be able to have our own dedicated practice space. We want to be able to send our members to the camps necessary for them to build their skills,” says Perez. Continued interest in the sport of Judo and the club are also highly necessary for the club’s future success, and as Berliner says, “If you just learn to fall, you might get bit by the bug.” With a few parting words from Dr. Gary Berliner, we look at what Judo has done not only for Rec Sports but for all organized sports. “This kind of recreational club gives you a chance to remember yourself, to find friends with common interests, and to develop those relationships.” While the future for anything is not guaranteed, one thing is for sure: the Judo Club will continue to grow and flourish at Texas A&M University.

EveryDay Aggie Finding a Home at Rec Sports Jake Keisler

Erica Parker

When I think of Rec Sports, I ponder what goes on inside of those walls each day? Are weights being lifted and miles being run? What is the life of the “Everyday Aggie” at Rec Sports? The “Everyday Aggie” is someone who wakes up three hours before class to work-out. The “Everyday Aggie” is one who sets goals and beats the odds they have set against themselves. The “Everyday Aggie” finds great satisfaction in never being satisfied and embodies the core values of both Rec Sports and Texas A&M University. Each day, hundreds of “Everyday Aggies” use Rec Sports to train for life and gear up for success. Jake Keisler, a senior Supply Chain Management major, has been involved with Rec Sports since his freshman year at Texas A&M University. Keisler was not involved in Sport Clubs, nor was he a member of the Rec Sports student staff. Keisler is the “Everyday Aggie”—one who visits the Student Recreation Center on a daily basis because of the “great value” and “the opportunity to participate in activities with friends who share a common interest.” He also uses Rec Sports to facilitate his routine, relieve stress after a long night of studying, and work off extra energy at the end of the day. This learning process occurs not only in the facility, but also within; Keisler states that he has “learned to work hard for [himself ].” After seeing Keisler push through a tough work-out after a late night of studying, it‘s clear that he is motivated to succeed against all odds. The “Everyday Aggie” also includes Rec Sports student staff. From 6am to midnight, 5 days a week, student staff members are in the facility acquiring leadership skills. Erica Parker, a senior Food Science major, has been working for Rec Sports since February 2010. During her time with Rec Sports, Parker has advanced from general facility staff to a facility supervisor. Parker indicated that the main reason she chose to work for Rec Sports is that she “wanted to be in an environment where she could experience dynamic things and interact.” Parker’s experience was everything she wanted and more; she learned time management skills, how to think on a higher level, and how to conduct herself in a professional manner. Parker has remained motivated to work for Rec Sports because of the people; the customers who give her “the opportunity to be goofy” as well as her fellow employees, who have become her second family. During the time Parker has spent inside of the Student Recreation Center, she has created great memories. She stated, “The pay doesn’t matter. The experience, skills and knowledge I’m gaining here is enough. I love this place!” The Rec Sports family has provided a home-away-from-home for so many students who might not have had another place to go. This is a place where life-long friendships are made and relationships are developed and nurtured. Rec Sports is the “Everyday Aggie.”

“Come and check it out, participate in activities you already enjoy and find something new.” -Jake Keisler, ‘13


Left to Right: Dennis Corrington, Johnston Dietz, Jerod Wilson, Ryan Keller

Dietz “We Are the Aggies, the Aggies Are We” The infamous slogan, “We are the Aggies, the Aggies are we, true to each other as Aggies can be,” has resonated through Texas A&M University for decades, penetrating all areas of life from academics to extra-curricular activities. It is a message that remains close to the heart. Within Rec Sports, we have our own family subset. Our student staff and professional staff work closely together every day to keep this entity running. When one of our own goes on to pursue bigger and better things, we take notice—especially when they leave an imprint on Rec Sports.

progress throughout a project.” Looking back on his former employee, Wilson has one thing to add about Dietz, “I can honestly say that Johnston Dietz was by far one of the best employees I have ever had! He lived for Texas A&M Rec Sports, and performed more like a seasoned professional than a student employee. Dietz was the definition of hard work, leadership, dedication and commitment to excellence!”

Johnston Dietz—affectionately known around the Department simply as ‘Dietz’—is a fitness enthusiast, always taking his passion for work one step further. This truly showed while Dietz worked as a Rec Sports Weight Room Attendant. Dietz started working in the area of Strength and Conditioning in April of 2007. From the time he started, he never stopped; he took his desire to push himself and went all the way. Jerod Wilson, Director of Strength and Conditioning attested to this, stating, “It was immediately clear that, for a new employee, Dietz’s work ethic was really good; he was always picking up shifts and interacting with patrons.” Dietz spent two semesters working in the weight room before moving upstairs to a supervisory position. In this position, he was very innovative, always creating new ways to keep his staff motivated. “One of my proudest moments was coming up with a Bingo game to get my staff to enforce the rules,” said Dietz. During his time at Rec Sports, Dietz learned to successfully balance his academic, personal and work life, completing both his undergraduate and master’s degrees in Ocean Engineering.

mr. and Mrs. Dietz Dietz graduated in December of 2011, thus ending his career with Rec Sports, but not his relationships with the people he interacted with on a daily basis. He remains in constant contact with his former supervisor and many of his previous fellow employees. When asked about his favorite memories of working for Rec Sports, Dietz spoke fondly of Strength and Conditioning’s close-knit family, whose members routinely participated in events such as staff dodgeball tournaments and Friday afternoon workouts where everyone pushed their bodies to the limit. Dietz offered heartfelt thanks to his former supervisor, Jerod Wilson, confessing, “I would not be the man I am today if it were not for Jerod.” This speaks volumes about what it means to be a member of Rec Sports, and more importantly, what it means to be an Aggie. We come together and learn from each other, and as Dietz says, “You have to take the good with the bad and hang in there.”

Dietz learned not only in the classroom, but also in the workplace. He took in everything his supervisor taught him and applied it to real-life, stating, “Jerod taught me to never overlook anything, to look for the small details in things.” Dietz has taken what he learned while working for Rec Sports and applied it directly to his career today. “Now I know how to keep people on task, pay attention to key points, and manage

Today Dietz is happily married to Amanda Kay Dietz and is currently living in Houston, working as a Project Engineer for Oceaneering International, Inc.

Pitch Perfect A Balancing Act

Aaron Durke ‘13

Biff, Falcon, scrum and zam-buk. None of these words have any significance unless you are on a rugby pitch, fighting for the ball. Aaron Durke experiences each of these terms on a day-to-day basis. As a current member of the Rugby team, Durke doesn’t just fight on the pitch to score. He is also a great student and winner of the 2012 Tom and Margaret Loftus Academic Leadership Rugby Scholarship.

both on and off the pitch. The Rugby team refers to themselves as a brotherhood, and simply showing up for practice is an almost-daily endeavor that Durke greatly enjoys. Rugby has also influenced Durke’s life off of the pitch. Being an Engineering major, Durke has had very little time to contribute to much else. He has learned that, “It’s really easy to start making excuses; that’s when you have to look into yourself and see what is going on.” Knowing this constantly drives him to complete his goals and tasks. Achieving this scholarship has given Durke the help he needed to keep pushing through college; to focus more on his studies as well as his performance on the pitch. This accomplishment will allow him to help his mother, who is providing some of his funding for college. “Any way I can help my mom is always a bonus,” Durke says. “It’s nice to feel appreciated and know that there are alumni out there who care enough about current students to give back.” This is a true statement of what it means to be an Aggie; giving back to your fellow Ags, the current generation, so that they will be able to succeed and give back to the generation that follows them.

Durke became a part of the brotherhood in the fall of 2010 when he realized he greatly missed participating in organized sports throughout his first year of college. During his first two years on the team, Aaron had to learn to balance Rugby and academics, saying, “It’s tough; you have to balance your time well.” This is something that every college student understands, but students must also find reasons to stay motivated. For Durke, his motivation has been the people he has met 8

endowments Continuing to Grow Sustainability is a new movement that is taking place across the Texas A&M University campus. From eco-friendly facilities to buses that run on biodiesel, we are constantly making changes that will improve the future of the university. Financial sustainability is also something the university is looking for across the board, from academics to extracurricular activities. What happens when we take this principle of sustainability and apply it to a department like Rec Sports? One result is that we actively search for ways to sustain the longevity and livelihood of our Sport Clubs through endowments.

an endowment not only as a way to fundraise, but more importantly, as a way to “friend-raise,” which is one great way to keep a club going. The economic future of Sport Clubs can be secured by establishing and growing endowments that will provide financial security and stability for the club’s future. During the next ten years, Welford would like to see every sport club benefit at some level from the endowment process. “I see that in the future, with the economy the way it is, funding will dwindle. I want to see every club have money available for its future.”

When an endowment is created, a Sport Club is guaranteed support for the future. The goal for each endowment is to raise $25,000 over a five year period and then to cultivate or ‘grow’ the endowment for years to come. Once the endowment earns enough interest, the club can use that interest for their benefit.

For all clubs looking to start an endowment, Welford recommends, “Stay connected with your alumni and your current club members; developing those bonds now will help you later on when you are looking for support.” Sport Clubs can also take the first step and meet with Welford to discuss the process of starting an endowment. With 16 clubs already endowed, the next question is, which Sport Club will step up next?

While there may be a price tag on each endowment, there is so much more to it. James Welford, Director of Development for Rec Sports, sees

A Sailing Regatta Connecting With the Past to Promote the Future

Open water, sun on your skin, wind in your hair, and a light mist coming off the wake; this is a feeling the Texas A&M Sailing Team gets to experience on a weekly basis.

added that the team focuses on sustainability. “We’re not just looking ahead to next year, but to the next decade.” Alumni support is vital to the existence and survival of any organization, especially one that has the drive to succeed. When asked how alumni have impacted their team, Conger stated, “They have kept us floating.” When Conger mentions “floating,” he doesn’t just mean financially; he is also referring to the team’s ability to network and keep the 12th Man spirit alive. The Sailing Team is self-taught, self-coached and self-maintained, and with a little financial assistance, this otherwise self-sufficient organization is working hard to provide opportunities for all future members.

On October 6, 2012, the Sailing Team held its Alumni Regatta in Dallas, Texas at the Rush Creek Yacht Club. Each year, this regatta provides the opportunity for current team members to stay in touch with the team’s alumni; in addition, it helps raise funds for the team’s growing endowment. A total of four boats were skippered by alumni at this year’s regatta. Travis Conger, current Sailing Team president, said that, to date, the team is more than half-way toward fulfilling its endowment. His team is very excited about the upcoming President’s Challenge this semester, where all funds raised, up to two-thousand three-hundred fifty dollars, will be matched by former club captains and presidents and put toward the endowment fund. Conger said, “The endowment is not just for the current team, it is for the future of the team.” He also


rock camp A Practical Philosophy “Pretend you’re ten and you’ll get it.” This is the best advice Jason Kurten, Director of Rock Climbing and Outdoor Retail, gives when he teaches people how to rock-climb. “We forget as adults how to play. We come to work-out, not to play. When people climb, they typically have big smiles on their faces.” While the majority of people that visit the Indoor Climbing Facility, also known as the ICF, are young adults, Kurten has spent the past three summers creating an ICF experience for the younger population. In the summer of 2010, Rock Camp was established for both practical and philosophical reasons. The Student Recreation Center is always slower during the summer months due to lower student population. Kurten says, “The logical thing to do was put on a camp. Not only would this generate revenue for the Indoor Climbing Facility, but more importantly, it was a philosophical fit.” Kurten wanted to reach children at a young age, before they develop a fear of heights, and teach them about one of the most basic human instincts: climbing. Kurten also emphasized the role of the parent in a child’s life. Kurten says, “The lives of children are often managed by a parent who cares very much about their safety, health and well-being.” These parents want their children to be exposed to a variety of activities, but also want to make sure they receive proper instruction. The first Rock Camp was offered as a week-long activity, with classes taking place Monday through Friday from 8am to noon. Since that time, the camp has expanded to two oneweek sessions, with the opportunity for campers to attend both weeks. The program would not have been possible without the help of several donors and supporters. Carl Gabbard and Steve Smith have been active climbers at the ICF for almost 15 years. One day, they approached Kurten and told him they wanted to lend their support to the program. Through this support and other donations, five children are able to attend the camp on a scholarship. Rock Camp has not only benefited the campers, but has benefited the ICF staff as well. Each day, staff members are challenged to design a lesson plan for a child looking to play, rather than an adult looking to work. The counselors work closely with Kurten to revamp the previous year’s curriculum and integrate new ideas so that kids stay interested and excited about continuing their adventure. Kurten would like to see this camp end in a day trip where participants can experience life outdoors climbing on real rock. Rock Camp has allowed its participants to be exposed to a new activity; to be taken out of their comfort zone and prepared for success. Campers are given an opportunity to be proud of themselves for their accomplishments and are encouraged to congratulate their fellow climbers for their achievements, as well. “When [the campers] come down off the wall, everyone is celebrating whatever accomplishment they just achieved,” states Kurten. Teaching a young child to support his peers in any endeavor they pursue is one of the most important skills a child can learn. When the camp comes to a close, participants have not only gained a new skill-set but have also developed self-confidence and trust in others. In the future, Kurten would like to see the camp experience expand to all areas of Rec Sports. He envisions creating an all-day camp for kids that will allow them to experience every aspect of the Student Recreation Center.

Department of Recreational Sports Texas A&M University 4250 TAMU College Station, TX 77843-4250


RecLIFE Magazine | Fall 2012  

The Rec Sports Family grows each semester with the welcome of new student staff, sport club members and the graduation of those we will miss...

RecLIFE Magazine | Fall 2012  

The Rec Sports Family grows each semester with the welcome of new student staff, sport club members and the graduation of those we will miss...