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Rec sports increase student engagement, experience on campus

Students participate in the flag football league.
Students participate in the flag football league.

More than 15 intramural sports and 20 club sports serving more than 2,500 student participants each year—that is Georgia College Rec Sports.

“For the number of students who participate each year, it’s more like a school with 15 - 20,000 students, which makes us in the top 1 percent of the country,” said Bert Rosenberger, director of Rec Sports. “About a 60 percent of participants are men and 40 percent are women, which is huge.”

Since the mid-2000s, Georgia College’s focus on recreational sports has shifted. In the “old days” a sport or two would be offered each semester with a few hundred participants total. Now around 10 sports are offered during four academic year sessions to hundreds of students each session. The programming changes not only provide another campus resource for students, but also allow numerous opportunities for athletic endeavors, socialization and, in some case, even career opportunities.

“I got here in 2007 and basically we had 50 teams per phase—with four phases,” said Rosenberger. “Only one sport at a time was offered. Since then, we’ve really focused on diversifying our offerings.”

With that growth, they now expect nearly 300 teams to take part in sports during the early fall phase alone.

“This semester we are offering nine sports during this phase, and it’s the most we’ve ever offered,” Rosenberger said. “We offer flag football, indoor soccer, basketball, softball, dodgeball, beach volleyball, kickball, and newer, non-traditional sports including spikeball and cornhole.”

Rec sports has become a staple on campus with nearly 50 percent of the roughly 5,500 undergraduate student body participating—well above the national average of about 15 percent reported from the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA), according to Rosenberger.

“What’s really interesting about the growth of our programs is that our participation has more than doubled, but we have not had a significant increase in our overall enrollment,” he said. “We’ve had great support from the university and our Student Government Association, and that really shows that students care about getting involved.”

That involvement is not only through playing sports, but many students also gain valuable work experience serving as officials for the different sports, while making some extra cash.

“The opportunities I’ve had through Rec Sports have definitely made a difference for me. I’ve gotten employment opportunities to ref at the high school and other levels because of my work on campus,” said senior Driver Watson, accounting major. “I was actually invited to official a national championship flag football game last year and have also been able to work several regional tournaments.”

About 40 percent of participants in Rec Sports are women.
About 40 percent of participants in Rec Sports are women.

For teens coming to college is all about finding your niche and Rec Sports has become a “thing” for many students at Georgia College.

“It’s all about fun and meeting new people. Participation in intramurals changes you for the better,” said Nathan Vickroy, senior exercise science major. “It’s made me a better person and a leader. You hear from numerous people that intramurals is the reason people love Georgia College.”

Vickroy, a legend in his own right, holds the national record for the most intramural wins by a single student during a semester—117.

“I played on several teams, both men’s and coed. It’s kind of crazy to hold that record,” said Vickroy, who plans to pursue a career as a high school coach.

The mission of Recreational Sports is to provide recreational and employment opportunities that will advance leadership, sportsmanship and team-building skills for students, a feat they continue to exceed each year.

“Recently a lot of campuses have seen a significant decline, especially in women’s sports and participation,” said Rosenberger. “We focus on providing the sports students want to play as much as possible and on being as accommodating as we can with the schedule. It’s that personalized attention and our dedication to our students that I think has made all the difference.”

More information on Georgia College Rec Sports is available

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