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Rec Life fall 2014

Howdy, During the holiday season it is a tradition for some individuals to support a cause for which they and their family have developed a positive association. Their cause may be related to a situation they personally experienced during some period of their life. For those that remember their association with the Department of Recreational Sports, I request that you consider supporting the Department of Recreational Sports Student Staff Scholarship Program. This scholarship program provides current student staff with the opportunity to apply for and, if selected, to receive a $1,000 scholarship. Seven current student staff received scholarships for the current academic year. Throughout this edition of RecLIFE you will see articles about accomplishments. Many of these accomplishments would not be possible without the dedication of student leaders and the former students that provide financial assistance. Renovation of the natatorium is complete and the expansion of the Student Recreation Center is well underway. The RecLIFE magazine is also used as a tool to locate former student staff and former sport club members that have not stayed in contact with the department. Therefore, if you remember the names of individuals from Rec Sports that you worked with and/or sport club members you competed with, send their names and area of association to me at the email address noted below. Your assistance is greatly appreciated. To the Aggie Family, the staff of the Department of Recreational Sports wishes all a Merry Holiday Season and a Happy New Year. Thanks and Gig ‘Em,

James M. Welford Director of Development Department of Recreational Sports


contents Danny Kenney Memorial Golf Tournament


The Cycle of Giving


Expansion Update


The Hub


Past, Present & Future of Rec Sports




Men’s Volleyball


Men’s Judo









Emily Grove


Alyssa Bailey

Graphic Artist

Kendra Spaw

Communications Coordinator - Kelly VonDrehle Marketing Director - Michelle Briggs Director of Development - James Welford


Danny Kenney Memorial Golf Tournament Supporting the Future Now

the responsibility. The team recognizes that “hard work pays off” and acknowledges the advancements made possible by the tournament’s endowment support.

The meaning behind the term “Aggie Family” continues to thrive at the core of the Texas A&M Men’s Soccer Team. Consisting of roughly fifty members spread across three teams, the team hosted its 15th annual Danny Kenney Memorial Golf Tournament this past November to honor the memory of a former player who passed away in 1999 due to brain cancer. According to Mrs. Kenney (Danny’s mother), Danny “never met a stranger,” and his eager personality beamed both on and off of the field. Danny grew up in Arlington, Texas and began playing soccer at age four. Coupled with his love for the game, and having grown up watching his older brother play for the Aggie men’s soccer team, Danny was set on going to Texas A&M and leaving his own mark with the club. As the starting center fullback for five consecutive years, he and his teammates accomplished great victories and built friendships that are still thriving today. In fact, it was because of these deep-rooted friendships that the Kenney’s received ideas and support in their undertaking to initiate an honorary event for their son. Danny’s friend, Mark Sealy, stepped up to play an instrumental role in founding the Danny Kenney Endowment Fund that would ensure financial stability for the team and provide scholarships for current members. The tournament is still seen as the perfect way to invite alumnae and community members to come together for a day of fun while contributing to a promotional cause that benefits the futures of current players.

The Kenney’s also look forward to attending and have not missed a tournament yet. They even make an extra trip to College Station each year to aid in the scholarship recipient selection process. Having reached its minimum during its inaugural year, and since growing to over $70,000, the endowment total enabled this year’s selection committee to award seven scholarships of various amounts to players for individual achievements, as well as to provide funds for future club endeavors. This year alone, the men’s team has been able to hurdle many of the obstacles that would otherwise prevent them from reaching full fruition. Over Halloween weekend, the team won an at-large bid in their regional tournament and was able to advance to Nationals in Memphis the weekend of November 21. According to club president, Connor Hirt, this, along with impressive conference victories, has led to a foundational spirit that makes him feel as if he is part of something bigger than just a team. Serving as president enables Hirt to give back to an organization that has offered him so much, and he believes, along with the team as a whole, that this tournament is a symbol of “thanks” for the support of the Kenney family and all donors who keep the team going.

This team and its 2014 tournament coordinator, Mason Rieman, achieved enough worthy success to label this year’s tournament their most profitable yet. Over ninety players (golfers as well as nongolfers) came out, played eighteen holes on Texas A&M’s very own golf course, and contributed to the sum of $10,000 in donations. Whereas Danny’s friends and family originally played the largest role in the tournament’s execution, the team has since accumulated almost all of

With every coming year there is always a goal to increase profits from the previous year, and currently there is a unanimous goal of reaching a $100,000 endowment total. The Kenney family feels this would enable them to ensure an opportunity to give back to their Aggie Family while still honoring their son’s memory at Texas A&M.

tHE cYCLE OF GIVING Scholarship Recipients Give Thanks

Josephine Gottfried “I am truly grateful to work for a facility that cares so much for its student employees and their education. The awarded scholarship helped me finish my degree, and I am forever thankful for that.”

Tyler Lunsford “Receiving the scholarship has enabled me to continue managing school while also furthering my own professional development. I am so grateful for a Rec department that not only invests in me through working opportunities, but extends their support into my academic pursuits. Working here has been a transformative experience.”

Bethany Tolar “The scholarship awarded to me by the department of Rec Sports has had a huge impact on my success in graduate school. It has helped decrease my financial burden and was a huge blessing to me by aiding in my ability to continue my education. I cannot express the amount of gratitude I have for everyone who helped make the decision to award me the scholarship, as well as my time here at Rec Sports. I do not take this opportunity or job for granted.”


Expansion Update

Photos courtesy of Aero Photo | 888.542.0231 |

Currently, most of the work being done on the Rec expansion is the drilling and pouring of concrete structural piers. Most of these piers are sixty feet deep to provide the base that is needed with our “clay” soil. On the south side, “grade beams” are being poured that will connect these piers together to provide the structural base of the Rec expansion. Before we know it, we will start to see concrete pillars and structural beams rising above the ground. This will be a milestone of sorts as we begin to see the structure take shape. More to follow in future editions of RecLIFE. Keep Rec-ing!

In a collaboration unique to campus, Texas A&M Transportation Services and the Department of Recreational Sports Outdoor Adventures program have teamed up to create a one-stop spot for the Aggie bike community to gather, ask questions, and use tools to accommodate its bicycle needs. “The Hub,” as it is called, was originally a simple idea conceived by Alternative Transportation Manager, Ron Steedly, as “a way to get more people to use bikes so that it can become a useful reality on campus.” Located on Southside across from the Commons, The Hub is currently open Monday–Friday, 2–5pm, and is staffed by Outdoor Adventures and headed by Transportation Services. Outdoor Adventures previously offered bike services at the Rec Center that offered students access to resources for personal bike repairs, but the current construction and renovations in progress at the Rec forced them to find a

new location. At the time, the only alternate location for such services was the Penberthy Rec Sports Complex, but Outdoor Adventures coordinator, Sarah Schneider, and director, Jason Kurten, decided this would be too far away to benefit the majority of students. Instead, the duo seized the opportunity to assist with Transportation Services’ efforts to establish an on-campus station. As they see it, this new facility allows them to continue to offer a service they support with few additional costs while helping another department reach its goals. The team aims to keep this building as the central location for the bike community, yet some plans to enhance its services may be in the works. Outdoor Adventures enables students to participate in all sorts of outdoor excursions, activities, and clinics, and Schneider hopes to possibly make The Hub a sister-location for students to sign up for these activities. Outdoor Adventures is currently hosting Saturday morning bicycle trips to the Farmers Market in downtown Bryan. All of the items purchased will be brought back on a trailer, meaning individuals simply have to sign up and enjoy the ride. For more information and to stay updated with The Hub’s happenings, visit the Texas A&M Outdoor Adventures events page on Facebook: 5

past. present. future.


Annual Rec Sports Reunion & Tailgate With all the success the Department of Recreational Sports has seen in the past, it looks forward to the present opportunity to reunite with all members at home football games. Since 2006, Rec Sports has hosted a tailgate for former and current student staff, sport club donors, and friends of Rec Sports to “gather, reconnect, and visit about good times.” The tailgate program was begun by Associate Director of Development, James Welford, and has since gained great recognition, with attendance numbers climbing each weekend. With food, TV, games, and conversation, there is a little bit of something for everyone. Spouses, kids, and even grandkids are invited to come and catch a glimpse into their family member’s past. In fact, the opportunity to meet these members of his friends’ families has grown to be one of Welford’s favorite memories. The week prior to each tailgate, he, along with four student staff members of the “Tailgate Crew,” oversee all preparation, and in turn reap the reward of seeing so many alumni and friends enjoying themselves as they hear how their legacy continues to take shape and grow. On October 11, the A&M vs. Ole Miss Game marked the official Alumni Tailgate and was accompanied by a reunion reception that was held in the Archery Room of the Student Recreation Center. Over 400 were in attendance, and the event was a huge success. The growth of the tailgate program is recognized by all who attend, and many are already looking forward to next year’s reunion, which is scheduled for October 17, 2015—the weekend of the A&M vs. Alabama football game.

Rec Sports continues to change while still keeping tradition.


Rec Sports Through the Years the waning agricultural environment of College Station, intramurals became a favorite past time to allow students the opportunity to interact, develop hobbies, and still receive an efficient workout. These 33,000+ students kept the department extremely busy hand-making the brackets, tournaments, schedules, and rules that all came along with the games.

Picture yourself walking around campus with the aroma and sounds of a horse coming from the stallion barn in place of the present-day Penberthy Rec Sports Complex, a pig farm where the George Bush Library sits, and nothing but open field and “no-man’sland” extending from Wellborn Road and beyond. This is the scene of Texas A&M circa the late ‘80s; however, along with the university, Rec Sports has progressed significantly throughout the years.

With students as the main priority at hand, the department began to explore a multitude of ideas to improve what it had to offer. By distributing surveys, the department was able to gauge students’ interests and begin to compile ideas as to how to alter the facilities to accommodate all that was desired. Eventually, East Kyle (the soon-to-be Reed Building) was built, and it offered multi-purpose rooms for gymnastics, dancing, fencing, racquetball—you name it! The students were thrilled, and shortly after, received the added bonus of extensions to G. Rollie White, including a women’s locker room and new basketball courts. By the late ‘80’s it became apparent that even more space was needed, and through a student referendum, the department received approval to begin constructing the current Student Recreation Center. Trips were taken around the nation to visit and take notes at various campuses with newly completed recreation centers to ensure a top-quality facility was built at home. Upon completion, group fitness classes were added, and Texas A&M became one of three universities in the U.S. to have a designated room available for events and banquets.

Senior Associate Director, Rick Hall, and associate directors Paula Opal and Michael Waldron have been working with the Rec for more than thirty years and have had the privilege of helping to grow and develop the department to better benefit the student body’s needs. Each started off his/her employment in various positions that often changed as new programs began. At the time, the DeWare Field House held the athletic teams’ weight room; however, upon completion of the new field house, the students were able to take over the building for their own workout needs. It was here that the three had their office spaces, but the building was extremely shy of luxuries. There was no air conditioning during the hot seasons, and during the winter, there was such little heat circulation that trash bags were put over fans to keep warm. On main campus, G. Rollie White hosted the P.E. classes, and most of the employees in the Rec Department were asked to teach a class or two. Students were required to take four credit hours of P.E. electives, and there was a high demand for instructors to combat the influx of students. Due to



Graduate Assistants Making a Difference Back Row, LEft to Right:

Zach Ganger - Strength & Conditioning GA

Matthew Dantism - Aquatics GA

Front row, Left to right:

Chris Stewart - Facilities GA

tORI Lord - Sport Clubs Association GA

Jacob Crawford - Intramural Sports GA

Bethany Tolar - Facilities GA

Alex Bardeguez - Marketing GA

Jamie Mineart - Intramural Sports GA

“The GAs help us to take another look at things. They all have come from other institutions and have knowledge of the different ways to do what we do. Working with them keeps us fresh and up-to-date by constantly challenging us to re-evaluate and ensure we are continuing to best serve the students.”

So, just how does Rec Sports continue to uphold such a longstanding and beneficial department? According to Waldron, “The key from top to bottom is empowerment. We truly empower people, train them, and then trust them. Let them do their jobs. They don’t always do it the way you would[…] it’s hard, but you realize that’s how things get better and improve, with everybody making little changes.” The Rec Sports family works as a unit, always allowing input from students as they diligently strive to maintain an outstanding atmosphere. It recognizes that the Rec has evolved to be more than just a fitness area and hopes to instill that same recognition in all who enter. Currently, with more and more students attending A&M, the perfect opportunity has arisen

Michael Waldron

Associate Director

-Michael Waldron for construction to create more availability for students without a fee increase. Working off the experiences of the past, the department takes on this task with the same ever-consistent attitude it always has: students come first.

Paula Opal

Associate Director


Rick Hall

Senior Associate Director


New Beginnings for Retiree Bill Garrett Imagine how presumptuous one would sound if he claimed to see the rooftop of his house from his stadium seats in Kyle Field or declared he has ridden his bike to and from work—rain, snow or sunshine—for the past eight years. Few can attest to these experiences; however, former senior IT consultant, Bill Garrett, tells of these realities with immense pride as he reflects back on his time working at Rec Sports. Embarking on his journey in 1993, Bill has finally decided to retire after twenty-three years, taking away a vast love for his job and the work he accomplished. Bill was in charge of all computers and databases, the tailoring of packages for installations, and the incorporation of new university software into current Rec systems. His assignments earned him the title of “IT Guy,” but his witty and positive attitude evoked much greater recognition among his co-workers. In fact, even though his most recent placement was in the IT Department of the Texas A&M Division of Student Affairs, Bill was allowed to keep his office at the Rec Center and remain surrounded by his “peeps.” Most notably, Bill always made sure to keep his colleagues aware of the importance of “bringing the fun with you” and at any staff meeting could be counted on to share a joke, pun, or story to lighten the mood. After all, he believed these would provide a much greater deal of entertainment than would any conversation on the subject of technology alone.

to coming to your place of work, and for that place to be one of the few buildings on campus where students personally choose to enter. Everyone at the Rec is looking for something, whether it be a good workout, friendly competition, excursions, food, or time with friends, and Bill loves that he got to play a role in it all.

As for his plans after retirement, Bill looks forward to having more time out on his bike. Carrying on his five-year tradition, every Saturday and Sunday he and his friends ride together, making pit-stops for coffee and to pick up more friends as they travel. Of all the memories he has made over the last two decades at the office, there were not enough words to describe the “family feel” the department has given him. He noted that it is an entirely unique situation to thoroughly look forward

Men’s Volleyball Setting Towards Success

On behalf of all the staff at Rec Sports, we could not be more thankful for the years spent with Bill Garrett, and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors! “Jump, Set, Spike:” the three fundamental volleyball terms our nation has come to use when describing the how-to’s of the game. Practicing two-and-a-half hours a week, twice per week, with tournaments every other weekend, the A&M Men’s Volleyball team continues to advance the club’s success and solidify their recognition within their district. This past year, with two teams of eleven and sixteen, the men have won not only their Southern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (SIVA) conference, but also were the first team to beat The University of Texas and become the champions of the Lonestar Tournament. In addition, they conquered the Texas State Volleyball tournament, and even had the opportunity to travel and compete at Nationals in April of last year. President, Kevin Wilson, speaks highly of his team for not only their successes on the court, but for their demeanor and friendships as teammates. “Everyone has really taken focus to improve the team both in skill and personality. We are kind of known as the fun and wild team. To celebrate, during games when someone gets an ace, that person has to chase the rest of the team around the parameter in an impromptu game of tag.” It’s these memories that made Kevin want to be club president and continue to expand the camaraderie amongst members. While celebrating their own successes, the team took time to reunite with alumnae members on November 11 at their home tournament, which even allowed for a volleyball game amongst current and former members. After the game, a chicken-wing dinner was held where alumnae got the chance to converse and re-live their college years, while simultaneously allowing the players to share their appreciation for the alumnae support in their travels and success. Congratulations on a wonderful season, and best of luck in the new year!


MEn’s Judo

Continuing Beyond the Golden Year

over the past thirty years, Perez has transformed the team to consist of twenty-five active members that often compete for individual and group awards. Just this past October the team secured first place in both Senior and Novice teams, as well as second place in Brown Belt.

The Texas A&M Judo Team has come a long way since its first year on campus in 1962. Similar to wrestling, the grappling sport works through submission techniques to overcome opponents and instill excitement in its audience. This year’s 2014-2015 team proves few obstacles can impede their love for the sport and ability to render success—a viewpoint finding its roots all the way back in ’82 under head coach, Dr. Gary Berliner.

Until now, scholarships for impressive team members were only available through the Texas A&M Judo Scholarship endowment, but recently, Gomez and previous Judo coach, Wiley Cunagin, created the Bob Perez Scholarship endowment. It has reached roughly forty percent of its minimum in the first three months of existence and has the potential to be complete within the coming months. Perez is extremely thankful for the honor and made sure to thank all donors and alumnae at the past Judo reunion, which was held in accordance with the Rec Sports Reunion and tailgate during the October 11 Texas A&M vs. Ole Miss football game.

Having been an experienced competitor and official for the U.S. Judo team, Berliner’s techniques brought great insight to Texas A&M’s team and laid the foundation for the rippling effects of increased membership, competition enrollment, and title wins. In fact, current coach, Bob Perez, still utilizes the knowledge he learned as a student and “judoka” under Coach Berliner. While the current team is extremely thankful to have a secured mat-room in the new PEAP building, Perez’s team practiced on the second floor of G. Rollie White Coliseum and had a substantially smaller number of members. It consisted of four-five males and was still transitioning from being a sport primarily for military use to one of co-ed recreation. With the help of Coach Dan Gomez

Rec Sports is remarkably proud of its Judo team members and coaching staff alike. To read about upcoming events and to support the club’s future success and scholarships, please visit

“When I started Judo four years ago, I was only looking to continue training in a grappling sport. Between practice, competitions, and living with the team, A&M Judo has become part of my family. The Judo scholarship has given me the opportunity, as a coach, to pass on my experience to the next generation of competitors.” -Cory Klemashevich



Flowing with the Wind

seen at a past regatta in Austin. With an immense lack of wind-speed, teams were forced to discover ways to overcome the disadvantage of factors out of their control. Although races were eventually postponed, much could be learned from these trials and errors, and team spirits remained high. Fortunately, team members rendered positivity toward the schedule off-set by passing the time bonding with other teams and conducting ever-famous “boat flips.”

Jimmy Buffett’s famous lyrics, “Son of a son, son of a son, son of a son of a sailor,” create quite the tune, but for most of the members of the Texas A&M Sailing Team, there is no family lineage with the sport. Practicing three hours a day until sundown, three times per week, the team has had to gather knowledge, develop technique, and achieve results across all categories to prove their skills on the water. As one of the few collegiate teams in its district without a coach, elder members have stepped in to play the role and to provide efficient training for new and existing members. With roughly twenty-five active members, the team is split into A and B fleets based on foreseen skill and strategy required for each race. The tournaments, or “regattas,” are composed of day-long races in which scores are awarded by the place in which a boat finishes, and, as a whole, the team with the lowest score at the end of the day wins. Most recently, Rec Sports is proud to announce the impressive victory over coach-led Texas A&M Galveston that secured our team’s qualification for the Navy Fall Interconference Regatta.

This access to other teams and additional training has encouraged members to turn to knowledge from alumnae as well. As an outlook to do so, the team hosts an “alumnae regatta” each year that alumnae can attend, enjoy BBQ, reflect on past times, and have the opportunity to interact with, teach, or even race current members. Aside from appreciation and donation letters that are sent out in January, this event is one of the few guaranteed, yearly contacts the team has with its alumnae and remains an important venture for success. Generous donations, entry fees, and t-shirt sales at the regatta all provide for future security and achievement of goals. Currently in the works is an effort to raise money for the purchase of new sailboats. With merely five years left until the current equipment is no longer useable, there is a potential threat of an equipment deficit in the coming years. Alumni, along with former president, Chris Thorp, recognize this need for team sustainability, and Thorp was the first to establish the team’s endowment back in 2011. Embarking on a developmental process, he began with a simple list of alumnae contacts and has since worked to incorporate regattas in various locations, seminars with sailing authors such as Nicholas Hayes, and a bi-annual newsletter to improve connections with potential donors. The Texas A&M Sailing Team has done very well to earn renowned appreciation and recognizes the enablement provided by additional alumnae and donor support.

With no experience necessary, any and all students are encouraged to join, further proving that sailing requires a cohesive unit and does not rely on the abilities of any one individual. This group mentality is even held by club president, Stephanie Meals, as one of her favorite aspects of membership. She remarks, “The sailing team truly is one big family, helping to teach each other to make it the best [it] can be […] if you go in not knowing anything, it can still be fun.” The cooperation extends beyond the university’s borders to encompass teams on a state-wide level, as well. Members throughout the South-Eastern Intercollegiate Sailing Association (SEISA) offer helping hands to engender a proactive, yet competitive environment. Interactions during regattas provide the perfect opportunity for learning while under pressure, as could be


Support How Can You Help If you are interested in supporting some aspect of the Department of Recreational Sports, now is the time to donate. You can donate online through the Texas A&M Foundation website at You can also send a check made payable to the Texas A&M Foundation and note what the donation is for on the memo line. Send the check to Attention: James Welford, Department of Recreational Sports, 4250 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-4250. Be sure your envelope is postmarked before the end of December to receive tax credit for 2014. We would like to thank all the supporters of the Department of Recreational Sports. You understand the need to give back to the Department and how your donations help current students that are working for Rec Sports. To all of our supporters, you are greatly appreciated! Special Supporters:

Thomas loftus

Tom and Margaret Loftus

David & Mary Chovanec

Academic Leadership Rugby Scholarship

Rec Sports Student Staff Scholarship

Punky & Walter Penberthy Recreational Sports

loyalty Leave Your Mark


Kristyn Kempf WALK OF CHAMPIONS CONSTRUCTION UPDATE: The construction fence is up and the Walk of Champions Bricks have been moved into storage. Bricks will stay in storage until they are all placed back into the Walk of Champions after construction is complete in 2016. Bricks ordered between now and the completion of the Rec construction will be displayed the weekend of graduation inside the lobby to the Student Rec Center. After graduation, all bricks will be stored until construction is finalized, at which time they will be placed into the ground. To learn more about getting your own brick in the Walk of Champions, contact James Welford at


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


RecLIFE | Fall2014  

Find out the latest news and developments with the Texas A&M University Department of Recreational Sports!

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