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University Recreation Historical Time Line


The Department of University Recreation is established within the Division of Student Affairs. Staff consists of two professional staff members. Ralph Bender is hired as the first director of the department; Julia Sutherland is hired to coordinate the intramural sports program.

Department offices established in the "pool house."

Recreation facilities include the "tin" gym (built in 1929), the swimming pool (built in the 1930's), tennis courts, and use of McCarthy Gym after 3:00 pm. Flag football and softball are played at different locations around campus (north of Evans Hall, behind McCarthy Gym, and the Intramural Sports fields located along Stone Boulevard beginning behind Dorman Hall and extending to Blackjack Road.


Staff expands with the addition of a clerical support staff member and three graduate assistants.


Staff expands with the addition of an assistant director for facilities. Graduate assistant positions eliminated.


Lobby of McCarthy Gym renovated to accommodate departmental offices.

Support staff expands with the addition of a facilities assistant.


Laura Walling hired as assistant director for intramural sports.


Ruth Nowlin hired as administrative secretary.


Department name truncated to Recreational Sports.


Staff expands with the hiring of Jeannine Wilson (Reed) as an additional administrative secretary position.


Staff expands with addition of an associate director position (Laura Walling); Chris Chance assumes supervision of the intramural sports program.

Five new tennis courts are added to the existing courts south of McCarthy Gym and named to honor former Bulldog tennis coach Tom Sawyer.


Laura Walling becomes director with the sudden departure of Ralph Bender.

Joe Frank Sanderson gives the university a $6 million gift to fund the building of a student recreation center.

The university approves the construction of a $3 million outdoor facility located on south farm.


Staff expands with the addition of graduate assistants and a program coordinator, Ricky Stone.


Staff expands with the addition of an assistant director for aquatics.

The department assumes responsibility for the Center for Alcohol and Drug Education (CADE).


In July, construction of the Joe Frank Sanderson Center begins on the north side of campus.

In August, construction of The RecPlex begins on the south side of campus.

Staff expands with the addition of another administrative secretary, Shirley Flowers. Greg Altorfer is added to the staff as the Assistant Director for Fitness.


The RecPlex opens on March 3.

The Joe Frank Sanderson Center opens on June 1.

Staff expands with the addition of building maintenance supervisor Phillip Collins.

Field area along Stone Boulevard that had previously been used for intramural competition becomes location for sport club team practices and competition.


As an undergraduate student, Brent Crocker assumes management of the natatorium of the Sanderson Center.

Staff expands with the addition of two custodial supervisors and six custodians (including Carrie Thomas).


The Joe Frank Sanderson Center is named an "Outstanding Recreation Facility" by the National Intramural/Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA).


The RecPlex is named an "Outstanding Recreation Facility" by NIRSA.


Patrik Nordin replaces Veda Sargent as the manager of facilities; Brent Crocker is hired in a full time capacity as the aquatics manager.


URec assumes management of the Big Dawg Adventure Challenge Course.

CADE is transferred to the Longest Student Health Center.


Nick Tasich joins the staff as the intramural sports and club sports supervisor.

Construction of the Bulldog Disc Golf Park completed.

The department begins offering Outdoor Adventure activities including trips, clinics, and gear rental.


Fitness services are expanded with the completion of Level II and the spinning studio.

The "Tin Gym" and the swimming pool are razed for construction of an academic building.

Recreational Sports assumes management of the MSU Golf Course. Billy Hoffman and Tracy Henry join the staff from the course.


Recreational Sports co-sponsors the highly successful Bulldogs in Motion program on campus with over 600 participants.

In May, Tony Luczak joins the staff as the Director of Golf.

In July, former graduate assistant Jason Townsend joins the staff as the Assistant Director for Fitness, and Tony Fields joins the staff as the Recreation Facilities Coordinator.

The Sanderson Center is voted the "Best Fitness Center" in the state of Mississippi by Mississippi Magazine, July/August edition.


Rec. Sport hosts its first-ever adventure race, nicknamed The Gauntlet, in October.

Two new sport clubs are added - Bass Fishing and Ice Hockey. Five new intramural sports are added to the program: Cross Country, NCAA Football, Longest Drive Competition, Home Run Derby, and Bowling Leagues.

Laura Walling receives the Zacharias Distinguished Staff award.


Longtime Business Manager Ruth Nowlin retires in January.

The swimming pool closed in January for the installation of new drain covers that would bring the natatorium in compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Act.

In February, the Department of Recreational Sports collaborates with Holmes Cultural Diversity Center and the Campus Activities Board to present Dance Around the World .  This event involves dozens of Mississippi State students from several organizations and featured dances from the US, China, Turkey, India, and other nations.  Over 400 students and staff attended the event in Bettersworth Auditorium.

In August, the MSU Spirit Groups become a part of the department. Melissa Nichols joins the staff as the Spirit Groups Coordinator; Miguel Sanchez is hired as cheer coach.

Construction of a new disc golf course around Chadwick Lake begins in the fall.

Rec. Sports collaborates with the Longest Student Health Center to implement the Exercise is Medicine initiative.  Through the program, students and staff are encouraged to visit their physician for a routine checkup.  If the doctor prescribes exercise, the student or staff member brings their “prescription” to the Sanderson Center to be “filled.”


In May, the Sanderson Center collaborates with the College of Architecture to renovate the Customer Service desk to add equipment checkout, which will save approximately $22,000 per year wages.

In the Best Of Starkville & Mississippi State survey conducted by the Dean of Students Office, the Sanderson Center is named the Best Place to Be a Student Worker.

Renovation of the existing disc golf course behind Herbert Hall begins in the spring of 2010.

The MSU Institute of Golf expands its retail space in the pro shop by converting the snack bar into a putting green and shoe sales area.


Trent Bedingfield joins the staff as the Spirit Groups cheer coach.

In January, the Sanderson Center opens Upper Cut, a boxing studio located on the 2nd floor of the facility.  It features a heavy bag, a speed bag, mirrors, and a stationary bike.

The Sanderson Center once again collaborates with the School of Architecture to create a seating area in the main corridor.  The structure is funded, in part, by an MSU Artist Incentive grant.

The MSU men’s disc club won the collegiate national championship in Augusta, Georgia, in April, becoming Mississippi State’s FIRST national champion in a sporting event.

Large photo-posters are created and placed above the Outdoor Adventures Center to help promote that program.

Working in collaboration with the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center, the Sanderson Center hosts a wheelchair basketball game that pits Mississippi State students against members of a wheelchair basketball team based in Jackson.


In April, the MSU women’s disc club wins the collegiate national championship in Augusta, Georgia.

Trey Harrison, a former Rec. Sports graduate, joins the staff full time as the Outdoor Adventures Coordinator.

An old Reflector newsstand is re-purposed to become an advertising display for Rec. Sports programs.  Also, unused speakers and amplifiers from the Main Gym are re-purposed to create freestanding sound systems for use in the studios.  

Three new group exercise programs – Boot Camp, Couch to 5K, and AMPED – are introduced.

Longtime intramural sports director Nick Tasich leaves MSU for a similar position in Wisconsin.


Jonathan Adams joins the staff in January as the Intramural Sports Coordinator.

Julie Rhoads joins the staff as the Sports Clubs/Facilities Coordinator in May.

A desk is designed and custom made from reclaimed Studio C floorboards by MSU student Morgan Welch to better accommodate a student employee with a disability, Will Graves. Morgan also designed and built a counter for the Customer Service Desk area to better display nutritional supplements and drinks.

In May, construction begins on two new facilities - a new jogging track around Chadwick Lake and new tennis courts at The RecPlex.  Funding for the track was made available through a grant from Blue Cross/Blue Shield and the tennis courts were funded through a construction project to build a new dining facility at the site of the existing courts.


In February, AMPED , a circuit training studio, opens on the second floor of the Sanderson Center.  In the first five months, over 1800 patrons register to use the facility.

One year after construction begins, the department re-dedicates new tennis courts located at The RecPlex to honor former Bulldog tennis coach Tom Sawyer.

The inaugural Youth Dawgs Fitness Camp program is developed and implement by Jason Townsend, Julie Rhoads, Paige Bickerstaff, and Kellie Wicktora.  The two week-long camps, held in June, enrolled 44 kids ages 6 – 10.

In August, John Sommer joins the staff as the Spirit Groups coach.

Brent Crocker, Patrik Nordin and Jason Townsend are named Associate Directors.


Management of the MSU Institute of Golf is transferred to the College of Business in January.

In March, the department goes “live” with Fusion, the new membership management software.

In a student-led initiative, Rec Sports finishes as the #1 (of 50) fundraiser in the campus Relay for Life event and earned the Spirit of Relay Award for their efforts.

Patrik Nordin and Jason Townsend collaborate with Alpha Rho Chi (the fraternity of architecture students) to design and build the control desk in the Strength & Conditioning Room of the Sanderson Center.

The Department of Recreational Sports plays a key role as Mississippi State University hosted the inaugural Special Olympics Unified Flag Football Egg Bowl.  The game pairs Special Olympians from across the state with Mississippi State students, members of the Sports Club Alliance, to represent MSU, and with students from Ole Miss to represent UM.  The event is officiated by MSU intramural sports officials and played on the Sports Club Fields.


Construction of a new program management and storage facility for The RecPlex begins in early spring. The facility is completed and ready for occupancy in November.

GoBoard, a tablet-based method of recording facility and program usage, launches in the spring.

The area of fitness Launches Battle at the Lake, a fitness obstacle course race around Chadwick Lake with 100 participants.

In a student-led initiative, Rec Sports finishes as the #1 (of over 30 teams) fundraiser in the campus Relay for Life.

Laura Walling, longtime director, retires in June. Patrik Nordin is named Interim Director.


The Department finalizes its name change from Recreational Sports to University Recreation.

Will Jordan is hired as Facilities Coordinator.

Steven Knecht is hired as Competitive Sports Coordinator.

Julie Kelly is hired as Fitness Coordinator.

The Sanderson Center adds a Kickboxing Studio.

Jonathan Adams and Trey Harrison are named Assistant Directors.

Patrik Nordin is named Director.


The Department wins Student Affairs Team of the Year Award.

The Department wins Program of the Year Award (Unified Sports Program).

The Joe Frank Sanderson Center celebrates its 20th Year Anniversary.

The Sanderson Center adds a TRX Training Studio & Personal Training Studio.