The recreational sports program scored big points with the College of William and Mary’s Board of Visitors at its Student Affairs Committee meeting Feb. 3.
“It’s an under-appreciated part of the athletic program,” BOV member Tim Dunn ’83 said. “It is what students really participate in. It provides really important opportunities for the student body.”
The meeting was largely devoted to Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler’s ’88 Ph.D. ’06 presentation on the College’s recreational sports program, which consists of club and intramural sports teams, fitness classes, outdoor field trips, the Student Recreation Center and informal athletic activity. According to Ambler, 80 percent of the College’s students participate in the program in some capacity.
The College has 47 club sports teams, more than any other university in Virginia. Ambler noted that many of these teams compete at national levels and against Division III varsity teams, and told the BOV that club sports athletes serve as ambassadors for the College.
Ambler announced that the Rec Center recently purchased an environmentally-friendly treadmill, which operates using runner-generated electricity. She also said that, in addition to encouraging stress management and balanced living for students, the facility provides benefits for faculty and staff, who can participate in fitness classes designated specifically for them.
“Sometimes faculty and staff are a little intimidated by working out with 18 to 23 year olds,” Ambler said.
An important function of the College’s recreational sports program, according to Ambler, is its ability to draw alumni back to the school.
“That whole idea of lifelong relationships is truly fostered by rec sports,” Ambler said. “There’s a huge cohort of very loyal alumni who come back every year.”
College President Taylor Reveley identified another of the recreational sports program’s benefits, and recommended that the College advertise it more effectively.
“It also has a potential propaganda value,” he said. “There’s a stereotype in some quarters that William and Mary students are nerds all the time, going to class. That they have bodies is barely noted.”
One challenge to the program, Ambler said, is trying to secure adequate playing fields for the College’s many teams to use. There are currently four recreational fields on campus, one of which is made of turf and shared with the Athletics Department. Even though no activities can be scheduled on the fields before four p.m. due to class schedules, only two of them have lights. According to Ambler, converting one of the grass fields to turf would improve the situation by allowing games to proceed in all types of weather, and would cost approximately $900,000. BOV members were receptive to this idea and agreed to consider it further.
Other issues discussed at the meeting included national mental health and academic engagement surveys that students will be asked to take this month, and the recent “Road to Richmond” lobbying trip.