Faculty moves from classroom to playing field


SDSU’s intramural courts and fields have become a little more competitive.

On a pilot program this year, SDSU’s intramural programs allow faculty and staff members to participate in recreation events and compete for the all-important T-shirt grand prize, just like the students they teach and mentor on campus.

For now, participation is limited to faculty and staff members who are also members of the Wellness Center. Memberships for the Wellness Center start at $42 per month for a single membership, but SDSU staff and faculty receive a $22 credit toward their membership, lowering the monthly rate to $20.

Assistant Wellness Center Director for Recreation Programs Mark Ekeland said that because students pay a general activity fee to participate in intramurals, the program’s advisory board, which includes student representation, thought it was fair for staff and faculty participants to pay some amount to participate.

“We’re trying to get the best of both worlds,” Ekeland said. “It’s a way to create new relationships outside of the classroom and also increases the participation we have in our intramural programs.”

Ekeland said members of the international campus community who were interested in playing in SDSU’s table tennis and badminton competitions spurred the idea on. His staff polled other intramural program directors at National Intramural and Recreation Sports Association conferences and found examples of where it has worked, including the University of Iowa, before implementing it at SDSU.

The program has already had one taker who has found the experience to be a beneficial one.

Matt James, an assistant professor in the Department of Plant Science, participated in the best ball golf tournament last month along with his golf partner Jordan Wunder.

“It’s proving to be a good opportunity for me to get to know my students outside the classroom,” said James, who also participated in softball and co-rec volleyball. “It also makes me, as a faculty member, feel more part of the campus living community.”

To date, one female and three male members of the faculty and staff communities have participated in the intramural offerings. All have been very positive about their experiences to this point.

When the Wellness Center opened in 2008, participation in intramural events increased by about 1,000 participants. Since then, intramural involvement has leveled off and Ekeland believes this might be a good way to spur more growth of the programs. But Ekeland said there will never be a point where students aren’t the focal point of the programs.

“We’ll always have student championships,” Ekeland said. “If a faculty or staff member is a champion, we’ll make sure we award a student champion as well.”

The intramural programs, which involved about 3,200 unique SDSU students last year, are trying to get as many people involved as possible. Adding faculty and staff representation can only help those numbers.

“I’m in a constant state of soreness trying to keep up with these college kids,” James said. “But it has been very rewarding. I challenge more faculty and staff to get involved.”