The History of Campus Recreation
Arkansas Tech University was established by law in 1909 as a Second District State Agricultural school. It was one of four state agricultural schools mandated at that time. The history of athletic competition began in November of 1910 with football and fostered the start of Tech sports. In November of 1919, John Tucker gave the Tech “Wonderboys” their name.
In the fall of 1933, Professor Truman Mcever was responsible for the first detailed plan for intramurals at Arkansas Tech University. The first form of intramural activity in the fall was softball. As the weather became cooler, a series of touch football games were scheduled and lasted until basketball season. The arrival of spring saw the beginning of softball along with baseball and some track. In the fall of 1935, Henry Hudson, newly appointed Intramurals director, announced that all males at Tech, who were physically able, were to participate in the program. In addition to football, basketball, and baseball, other popular sports such as golf, tennis, swimming, boxing, volleyball, and softball were included. In 1935, the APC Bulletin had no intercollegiate sports for women mentioned but did say that women could participate on campus in basketball, volleyball, baseball, track, tennis, archery, and folk and clog dancing.
In 1954-55, an intramural program, open to all students, was a part of the overall athletic program. In 1966, Coach Dobson reset the guidelines for the intramural program and reorganized. The sports offered were archery, basketball, bowling, horseshoes, flag football, softball, golf, rope climbing, tennis, track, ping-pong, and volleyball. Approximately 1,100 to 1,200 students participated at that time. The program was based on a point system to determine the overall winner at the end of the semester. The person with the most points received a trophy and the winning team received T-shirts.
In 1967-68, the program offered sports selections a month at a time. They were organized from October – April.
In 1983, ten sports were offered based on student interest. Coach Dobson was succeeded by Rudy Parks, Dr. Travis Arterbury, and Donald L. Dempsey. Dempsey, who had the longest tenure, reported in 1989-90 that approximately 700-800 male students participated in basketball, flag football, racquetball, golf, volleyball, and softball. In 1984, Martha N. Dowell reported that, during 14 years as the Director of Women’s Intramurals, she had tried many different sports; however, the women's interest had been mostly basketball, volleyball, and softball. In 1990, Dr. Dowell reported 200-300 women participating. T-shirts were distributed to the winners of various sports.
In the fall of 1995, Pete Kelly took over both men’s and women’s intramural programs. Although the intramural office was physically housed in the Physical Education Department, it was now overseen by the Department of Student Services. Student Services could provide more services and therefore, contributed to both higher retention of students and a better quality of life. A total of 650 participants competed in the 1995-96 academic year. In 1996-97, SGA purchased 10 new mountain bikes to further expand the program. With new activates being offered, like midnight bowling and a golf scramble, participation grew to an all-time high of 1,600. During 1998-99, the intramural program went without a fulltime director; however, Chris Jones held the senior fellow status and the program continued to grow in participants and spectators. Intramurals soon found itself with a new director, Dana Froud. She became the first female Coordinator for both Men’s and women’s Recreational Sports. Although her directorship only lasted one year, Froud made extra murals a reality once several teams competed in the State Flag Football Tournament.
In September 2000, Kelley Roach took over the Tech Recreational Sports Program. Following in Froud’s footsteps, Roach continued the extramural fever. In November 2000, he took a men’s flag football team to both the state and regional tournaments. The slogan, "Where Memories are Made," adopted in 2000, proved itself correct. In the spring of 2001, the men's and women’s 5 on 5 basketball champions took a trip to Wichita, Kansas. Over the next few years, participation grew with new activities like Chasin’ the Moon 5K and NIRSA Day. In the spring of 2002, women’s 5 on 5 basketball was added. The “No Limit” team won the Tech champion title, state and regional champion title, and a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. There, they finished 5th in the nation. The fitness champions of Tech also made the trip to Walt Disney World to compete at the national level. “The Squad” finished 10th in the nation for their efforts.
In 2002-2003, the first ever national championship was awarded to "Kami Kaze," a male softball team. Another trip to Orlando was made, but this time with male and female basketball and fitness teams. 2004 brought even more excitement. Not only did Shawn Caldwell received All-American status as a flag football official but Jason Keys also received the honor of All-American Basketball official. In the spring of that year, Tech hosted the state 5 on 5 basketball tournament, and that fall, "The Angels" won the first female regional flag football championship and traveled to the national tournament in New Orleans, LA. In 2005, Tech hosted the 10th Annual AIRSA State Flag Football Tournament. "The Rollers", Tech Flag Football Intramural Champions, finished 2nd in the men's division.
After a 6 year reign by Director Kelly Roach, Brian Henderson was hired to take the Intramural and Recreational sports program to new heights in the 2006-07 academic year. Within Brian’s first month as the new Director, the "St. Leo Saints" won Tech’s 5 on 5 basketball championship . They went on to win the regional tournament, hosted by the University of Missouri. Mary Buford was selected as Regional Tournament MVP and won a 32" plasma television and the team qualified for Nationals at Ohio State University. In the summer of 2007, the addition of two graduate assistants helped complete the staff of Tech Recreational Sports. A new office was constructed in the University Common’s Club House and became the new home for the Tech Intramural & Recreational Sports Staff.
The 2007-08 season boasted a record number of participants and more students competed in intramurals than ever before. The "Saint Leo's Saints" Women's 5 on 5 Basketball team won the University of Missouri Regional Tournament once again and Jillian Jacimore was named tournament MVP. With the addition of two new backstops on the intramural field, a new shed for intramural equipment, a new shed and canopy for the mountain bikes, and the purchase of eight new Specialized Mountain Bikes, the 2008-09 year made great strides.
In the summer of 2008, the Intramural & Recreational Department was once again under new direction. Arkansas Tech Alum, Grant Watts, was hired as the ninth director. The fall of 2008 saw a record number of participants in intramural events. History was made both on and off campus as the men's flag football team, "En Fuego," won the state and regional tournaments and advanced to play in the national tournament. The women's flag football team, "Evil Shenanigans Part Deux," received runner-up at state and third place at regional's. Five Tech officials worked the state flag football tournament and of those five, four worked semi-finals and three worked finals. Tech Official, Spencer Gay, even received a bid to NIRSA Regional Tournament.
2009 ushered in "A Centennial of Memories" as Arkansas Tech celebrated its Centennial Anniversary. Tech was well represented in flag football and basketball extramural tournaments and was even named the 2009 ACIS National Women's Champion. The newly formed Outdoor Connection Center purchased kayaks and camping tents to provide members of the Tech community another way to enjoy what the Natural State and River Valley have to offer. The Fall of 2010 brought upgrades to the intramural fields including the installation of lights and a permanent storage building. In the Spring of 2011, Tech won the first annual Arkansas State Intramural Softball Tournament hosted by Arkansas Tech. In the 2011-2012 school year, the department added another component, Zumba hit campus and was well received by the students. Currently, Campus Recreation encompasses not only intramural sports and outdoor recreation but also fitness and other special events.