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RecLife Fall 2015

Howdy, Giving thanks for family, friends and life is a daily process that connects many and provides support to all. With Thanksgiving Day behind us, we at Rec Sports Development continue to express our appreciation and thanks to all the supporters that benefit the students that volunteer and work in the department.

The holiday season is here and it is a tradition for some to support a cause with which they and their family have developed an association. Their cause may be related to a situation they personally experienced or a new interest they have developed over the years. Whatever the reason, the Department is appreciative of the support given by so many former students.

Eighteen Sport Club endowments have been designed to promote scholarship and meet other needs of specific clubs. Each of these clubs is working hard to grow its endowment. Alumni of all the sport clubs remember their challenges to raise funds to support the club. At this time of the year, alumni and friends of the clubs are asked to consider supporting a club they were associated with during their college days. For those interested in supporting the Department of Recreational Sports Student Staff Scholarship Endowment, now is a perfect time to donate. Thanks to the Texas A&M Foundation and their online giving program, donating has never been easier. Go to and provide current students the opportunity to apply for scholarship assistance. With the increased number of students attending Texas A&M University, the Student Recreation Center is growing to meet the needs of current and future students. Completion of the current construction is scheduled for June 2016. All look forward to having new equipment and space to provide quality programs to the students and University community.

As members of the Rec Sports Family, we want to express our thanks for all you do to support our students. YOU ARE GREATLY APPRECIATED! Thanks and Gig’Em!

James M. Welford Director of Development Department of Recreational Sports






Faculty and Staff


Student Affairs


Where are They Now: Bob Ellis


Where are They Now: Barbara Aiken


Rec Sports Reunion & Tailgate


Sport Clubs Achievements


Walk of Champions


RECLIFE MAGAZINE COORDINATOR: Writer, Photographer and Graphic Artist

Kate Williams

Assistant Director of Communications: Kelly VonDrehle Marketing Director: Michelle Briggs Director of Development: James Welford

On the Cover: Leslie Schroeder, Women’s Rugby Chancellor John Sharp Eric Wiggin, Men’s Rugby


Lifting Spirits: expanding endowment A Q&A with the Texas A&M Powerlifting Team President Q: What is your favorite aspect of being on the powerlifting team? A: “My favorite aspect of being on the powerlifting team is the lifelong friendships that are made,” team president Scott Dobbins said. “I train 4-5 nights a week with the same group of people, so naturally, we all get close throughout the year. Powerlifting is like a really big co-ed fraternity. It is very rare to see bad blood between lifters, even if they go against one another. I’ve seen competitors cheer each other on during a competition; you don’t see that in most sports. I competed internationally at the junior world championship in early September and placed second to a Russian. After the competition, we chatted and ate together and had a very good time. That is something unique to this sport, for sure.” Q: What makes the powerlifting team different from a normal weight lifting club on A&M’s campus? A: “The powerlifting team is very different from a generic weight lifting

club, “Dobbins said. “While our official title may be the “Powerlifting Club,” there is nothing club-ish about us. We are a team, and we treat our lifters like the athletes they are. We are not just a bunch of kids lifting weights; we are training together for a common goal: winning collegiate nationals. We maintain high intensity in our training because we want to be the best lifters in the country, and we know there are other schools working toward the same goal.” Q: What are some accomplishments that you all have had recently?

A: “This past year, the men’s team won Collegiate Nationals for the first time in thirty-two years. It was the program’s fourth men’s championship in school history (‘75, ‘77, ‘83, and now, ‘15). The women placed fifth this past year, with a very young squad. The women won Collegiate Nationals in 2011—the only women’s championship. So, as you can imagine, we have a target on our backs this year as the team to beat.”


Q: How does the team plan to grow or change for the better in the future? A: “Powerlifting is a huge sport in Texas, as well as in most of the south and Wisconsin,” Dobbins said. “However, while it is a varsity sport at the high school level, it is not at the NCAA level. As a result, there are no scholarships for powerlifting. We are currently raising money for an endowed scholarship through the Texas A&M Foundation. This would be a huge recruiting tool for our program that would make it even better. The kind people at PEAP allow us to train in the best collegiate powerlifting facility in the country. With this combo, our program can only grow and move in the right direction. There are high school lifters who dream of getting financial assistance to lift at a great university; I know I did as a high school lifter. I hope I can make the powerlifting world a better place by establishing this scholarship before my time here at A&M is up.”



CONSTRUCTION CONTINUES but the end is in sight. The expansion/renovation is currently scheduled to be completed and available for Rec members and guests on June 1, 2016. The outdoor plaza will not be available for use until September 2016. Both dates are subject to change.

The weather stayed relatively nice for our construction team in the fall, allowing us to make good headway toward completion. With great progress, an enclosed gym is starting to form, and with the roof deck complete we will begin interior work. On the north side, the weight room expansion and second level plaza are finally beginning to take shape. The largest improvement to the north side in the fall was the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) work. MEP construction is not easy to see for patrons walking by, but it is necessary to allow good circulation throughout the different areas of the building. Walls and large windows should be going up soon on the north side so the workers can begin dry-in construction. Also, second floor columns will be going up soon for the plaza near the north side entrance. The new indoor pool has been poured near the new south side entrance, and more work will be going into that area during the spring. The lighting retrofit and reroofing was completed during the fall semester. The Rec has gone green, replacing all the lights with efficient LEDs and repairing our original roofing for better insulation, fewer leaks, and a renewed warranty. All usual areas of the Rec will be available for use during the spring semester, but no new openings will be occurring. To access the outdoor pool, be sure to use the west entrance. Want to know more about the Rec Sports expansion? Get the latest updates at

weight room expansion


Interview With Ashley Donaldson

Assistant Director of Facilities

Ashley Donaldson began her career with Texas A&M University Rec Sports in July of 2009. “I knew a little bit about the Rec just from the reputation of the building and the staff through a conference called NIRSA,” Donaldson said. “But I wasn’t familiar with the university’s traditions and the culture of A&M.”

Donaldson studied Recreation Parks and Tourism Studies both as an undergrad at Southern Illinois University and as a graduate student at Indiana University. “When I moved from the Midwest, I knew no one when I got here,” Donaldson said. “That can be very challenging at first, but the Rec Sports staff took me in and helped acclimate me to the environment and made me part of the family. We definitely have the Rec Family here.”

Donaldson appreciates the culture in the office and finds it to be unique from any other work environment she has experienced. “Lots of people stay here for a long time,” Donaldson said. “It’s because of the people, the students, the staff, and the support we get from our supervisors. They help us feel empowered to do our jobs. I think it’s important to make people feel valued and supported. They definitely do that here.” Donaldson highlights that this support creates a positive work environment for all employees. “It’s kind of the norm here,” Donaldson said. “Dennis Corrington creates buy-in from the staff at all levels. He welcomes input from entry-level staff to those at the top. It helps us create a bond and gets us all on board and prepared for the future.” Ashley takes pride in her position here and feels as though it is vital to the well-being of the Rec. “I am generally responsible for the day-to-day operations and management at the Rec Center, as well as open recreation and reservations at the PEAP facility,” Donaldson said. Donaldson supervises several employees, making sure that the facilities operate effectively. “We have about 115 students that work in the facilities area in four different positions,” Donaldson said. “I work directly with the facilities supervisors. There are five of us and we work as a team to manage the staff.”

Working with facilities student staff is her driving force during the day, and she enjoys watching them excel as employees. “I love the students I work with,” Donaldson said. “I love to see them start working as a receptionist, then stay with us and work their way up to facility supervisor. They gain a lot of knowledge and responsibility that comes with that position, and it’s fun getting to see them grow and develop.” Donaldson believes that facilities staff plays a key part in the experience students have at the Rec. “We are the face of the Rec,” Donaldson said. “We are most visitors’ first impression of the Rec, and we are the employees that people interact with the most. Our hope is that we are creating a positive experience for visitors, whether they are registering for a class or just coming to work out.” Donaldson feels backed by the support of her staff to pursue her fitness goals and advance professionally. “I work in facilities, but I also get to teach fitness classes,” Donaldson said. “It helps to have experience working in fitness in order to be a better professional overall. That’s not something you get everywhere.”

Rec Sports Welcomes New Staff

Megan normansell Graduate Assistant, Intramural Sports “Texas A&M Rec Sports has been so welcoming and exciting. I love working with students who take pride in their ownership of the Intramural Sports program and want to be a part of our success. They make it easy for me to come in to work to do what I love.”

Grace Grindstaff Facilities Coordinator “I’m looking forward to helping students reach their goals both in the job at the Rec and in their studies here at the university. I’m also very much looking forward to seeing the expansion finish! Overall, it’s been a fantastic four months and I’m looking forward to the future and everything that it will bring! “

Interview with Daniel Pugh

Vice President of Student Affairs

Dr. Daniel Pugh, the new Vice President of Student Affairs, has now been in office for a little over three months. He left his former position with the University of Arkansas after ten years and was warmly welcomed into the Aggie Family. Pugh describes his experience transitioning from Arkansas using a sports analogy. “You have to learn a new playbook, attributes of the team, the team philosophy, and where the locker room is; all that stuff is new,” he said. “But the game itself remains the same.”

Pugh mentioned that there is beauty in getting to know the breadth and depth of becoming acquainted with Texas A&M. “I love it here,” Pugh said. “The level of engagement with students is outstanding. I am convinced that this is the best job on campus.” Pugh has made it his mission to be present with the student body in more ways than one. The vision for the division is quite clear to him, with Texas A&M University being one of sixty-two schools in the American Association of Universities.“ We naturally want to be a preeminent student-centered division. What makes us unique is that we have to be the best

informants and researchers, facilitating growth. How do we take what we are already doing right to the next level? We are already one of the greatest leadership laboratories in the world. Why don’t we study that a little more?”

Pugh mentioned that the Rec Center may be an ideal place to conduct more research.“ We are about to open up a brand new weight room facility soon,” he said. “This provides a great opportunity to research and find solutions to problems, making the facility more effective.” Pugh feels strongly about the Rec Center’s role on campus.“The well-being of students is absolutely critical,” Pugh said. “The environment that we can create here allows students to thrive and to develop resiliency techniques. We understand that student activity is necessary in order to be successful, currently and down the road. The physical and psychological benefits of the Rec all go into the learning outcomes that occur in intramurals and group fitness and in individual best performances at whatever level. There is value in those activities, in seeing oneself achieving goals in sports.” Pugh imparts his wisdom to students and helps them recognize the opportunity they have at

hand. “The most well-rounded experiences are the best collegiate experiences,” he said. “Students have opportunities here that they may never have elsewhere. They are challenged to stretch the boundaries and even experience failure and learn about success. I hope that we continue to find ways to encourage students in those areas. You don’t know where you are going to be when you’re sixty, but it is good to set goals.”

INTERVIEW With Tom Reber

Associate Vice President of Student Affairs

Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, Tom Reber, has a passion for Texas A&M University and all of the students that walk

the campus. “The whole reason you get in this field is to work with students and watch them grow,” Reber said. Reber’s role has changed a few times on campus. Starting his career at the Department of Recreational Sports as Assistant Director of Intramurals, and then accepting a position as the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, Tom was next called upon to serve as Interim Vice President. “It was a great experience, but it was challenging keeping my responsibilities as assistant VP while working as interim VP. It was like doing two jobs at once,” Reber said.

Reber reflects on his time at the Rec being a positive experience that prepared him for his current position as Associate VP. “I have about nine students I work closely with now, and I like it because it reminds me of my time I spent at the Rec, where you get to work with students quite a bit.” Reber said. When discussing his position now, Reber expands on how the Division of Student Affairs makes a difference on campus. “I do a lot of the business work,” Reber said. “We try to make 7

sure that each department has the funds it needs to serve students and give them a positive experience outside of the classroom.”

Reber wants to ensure that students feel like they are welcomed and appreciated while they are on campus. He hopes that campus is a place where students feel like they can stay and enjoy themselves, not just to come for an education. This means getting students involved. “We want to ensure that students gain a good understanding of leadership and service while they are here,” Reber said. “Whether it be aerobics instructors or building supervisors, these are jobs where students can feel like they are a part of something much bigger than themselves.”

Reber’s advice to the student body is to always be kind to everyone they meet and to appreciate the education that the university offers. “It’s important to be nice to people,” Reber said. “You never know if the person you are talking to could be your boss one day. It’s also important to work hard in school. It will teach you how to manage time and to stay organized.”

Looking Back at Former Employees and Their Current Successes The Department of Recreational Sports employs over one-thousand students each year. The opportunity to work for Rec Sports offers students excellent experience in many fields, including marketing, facilities management, sponsorship development, and more. These students leave the Department feeling a sense of accomplishment and knowing that they, among others, can truly take on any challenges they may come across in the real world.

Bob Ellis Bob Ellis, Class of 1974, is no stranger to a life of recreation. After wearing many different hats during his time at A&M, Ellis’ passion for athletics only grew while going to school here in Aggieland.

Ellis said. I’m heavily involved with the Texas Amateur Athletic Foundation.”

Although Ellis is very committed to sports, he is inspired most by the people in his life.“My wife, Billie, and I have three children: Chad, Jenifer and Laura; and five grandchildren: Kaitlyn, Quinn, Ethan, Cameryn and Xander,” Ellis said. “These people drive me, and they are the reason I am who I am.”

“I joined the Corps in the fall of 1970 and began playing intramural sports immediately,” Ellis said. “As the years progressed, I was assigned the duties of Athletic Corporal, Athletic Sergeant, and finally, Athletic Officer in my unit.”

Ellis’ love for sports and physical activity spilled over into many areas of his life. “I came to A&M to major in Physical Education,” Ellis said. “I passed on student teaching and worked as an intern for the Intramural office.” Ellis accredits much of his success as a student to older rolemodels during his time at A&M. “Dennis Corrington and James Jeter were my mentors,” Ellis said. “Dennis and I still get together once or twice a year and play golf.” After he graduated, Ellis decided he did not want to go to graduate school but worked in a number of fields related to sports. “I went to work for a local sporting goods business until 1996,” Ellis said. “On April 9, 1996 I began working for the city of Pasadena as a Recreation Specialist in Athletics.

In 1998, he was promoted to Recreational Manager over Athletics, which is the position he still occupies today. “I currently oversee all the athletic programs for the City of Pasadena,” Ellis said. “I coordinate youth baseball and softball with the Parks Division, as well as adult softball, basketball, and volleyball, and youth soccer, basketball, and volleyball.”

Ellis still officiates high school varsity basketball and serves as the treasurer with the Houston Chapter of Basketball Officials. “I serve on numerous committees involving recreation activities,” 8

Q&A with Barbara Aiken Q: What was your involvement with the Rec Center while you were here? A: “I was there so long ago that the current Rec Center did not exist. I started with Texas A&M Intramural-Recreational Sports in 1981 as the Coordinator for Marketing and Special Events, so I managed the department’s advertising and communications along with weekly special events. After one year in that role, I became the Assistant Director for Sport Clubs,” Aiken said. Q: How did your position help you excel as a person and accomplish your goals?

A: “I think I was like a sponge soaking up everything I could about how a strong campus recreation program should be organized and managed and what’s possible when you have a lofty vision and staff committed to achieving it. I remember feeling very good about the work we were doing. Through the experiences I was allowed to have there, I learned to trust my instincts and abilities, and my self-confidence soared. When I arrived at Maryland, I did not hesitate to start implementing changes and ideas aimed at improving the program here. I used what I learned at Texas A&M to take Maryland’s program to new levels, eventually building new facilities, a comprehensive recreation program, and a healthy organization,” Aiken said. Q: What are you currently doing now?

A: “Currently, I am the Senior Associate Director for the newly rebranded Department of University Recreation & Wellness at the University of Maryland,” Aiken said. “Over the years, I have managed facilities and most of our programs. I built or helped to build our fitness, outdoor, community, and student employment programs. I currently oversee fitness, intramural sports, student employment, wellness, marketing and communications, the staff in those areas, and a few other things.”

Q: How do you personally remember Rec Sports? A: “I smile whenever someone mentions Texas A&M because I remember what an incredible place it was to work,” Aiken said. “I tell people I would still be there were it not for a desire to be closer to my family on the east coast. There was something special and affirming about the culture at Texas A&M Rec Sports, and I’m not surprised that many of the people I worked with are still there. When I attend conferences, I love that Aggie staff members, including those who started working there after I left, always make me feel like I’m part of the “family,” even though I’ve been away for thirty years. I got my professional start there, and I consider myself truly fortunate for that, but my fondest memories are of the people I worked with and how much fun we had working together to produce exceptional programs that had and still have a positive and healthy impact on Texas A&M students.”

Q: How did your job with Texas A&M Rec Sports help you get there?

A: “My job at Texas A&M Rec Sports helped me get to this level by providing opportunities for me to gain experience and confidence, to grow professionally, and also by providing me with a model for our program,” Aiken said. “I learned to be a leader and how to build a strong and productive organization by working with Dennis Corrington. I learned the value of hiring good people, providing them with the resources they need to do their work, trusting them, and supporting their ongoing professional development. And I learned the value of building a strong workplace team that feels and acts like a family.” 9

Congratulations Texas A&M Rugby

The Old Maroon Rugby Club, which supports the Texas A&M Men’s Rugby Club, assisted with the newly created Texas A&M System Chancellor’s Cup Rugby Tournament. This 2015 tournament consisted of teams from the Texas A&M System and included rugby clubs from Prairie View A&M, Tarleton State, TAMU–Central Texas, and Texas A&M. Texas A&M won both

categories, and both the men and women were presented with the Chancellor’s Cup trophy. Additionally, John Sharp, Chancellor of the Texas A&M System, announced that each winning club will receive $5,000 to support the operational needs of the club.

REC Sports Reunion & Tailgate Then


Rec Sports guests and staff all gathered at the Rec Center before a home football game. We hope you can join former students and friends of the Department of Recreational Sports on October 29, 2016 for our next reunion. fall 1995in July of 2016. Fall 2014 More information will be available 10

Sport clubs Achievements 2015 Achievements


Won SCCCC Mountain Bike Conference Championship


Men’s Rugby

Men: 1st place, Louisiana Collegiate Regional Meet

Won the Red River 7’s Tournament; qualified for Nationals in the Spring

Women’S Soccer

Top 2 at Regionals Men’s Water Polo Reached the Sweet 16 at the NIRSA National Soccer Placed 2nd at the CWPA Conference Championships Tournament

Women’s Water Polo

Men’s & Women’s Rugby

Women’s team won the William Field Polo Invite Both won the annual Chancellor’s Cup Rugby Tournament Tournament, Ithaca, NY


Men’s and Women’s Volleyball

Won Katy and Sugar Land Triathlons

Both won Longhorn Classic tournaments in Austin

loyalty L E A V E YO U R M A R K

Kendra SPAW WALK OF CHAMPIONS CONSTRUCTION UPDATE Construction is ongoing and the Walk of Champions bricks have been moved into storage. Bricks will remain in storage until they are placed back into the Walk of Champions after construction is complete in 2016. To learn more about getting your own brick in the Walk of Champions, visit our website at or contact James Welford at 11

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




Rec Sports Graduate Assistants 2015 - 2016 Bethany, Zach, Megan, Matt, Tori, Alex, Shannen, Chris, Jamie

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