Those who frequent the Elmen Center may already be aware, but Recreational Services offers its programming to more than just students.
All of the activities and facilities at the Elmen Center are available to faculty, administration and staff, including use of the weight room, pool, basketball and racquetball courts. It also means students may find themselves guarding a ball handler who doubles as their math professor, or staring at a member of the business office across the volleyball net in an intramural game.
According to Mark Hecht, director of Recreational Services, over 100 faculty and staff members took part in one of the programs or used Elmen Center facilities at least once during the 2012-2013 academic year, with about 50 using the Elmen in some capacity 10 or more times.
The numbers are indefinite, Hecht said, because tracking usage in some areas can be quite challenging, but Augustana employee presence is high enough that of the average 20 group fitness classes offered each week, five are just for faculty and staff.
“We’ve just always believed it’s good to have that positive as far as community,” Hecht said.
Hecht said sharing of the Elmen Center between students and faculty has been the policy since the building opened in February of 1989.
This employment perk is offered at no extra cost, a rarity in the college recreation community encompassing not only South Dakota, but also most of the Midwest.
“We’re a small enough college where number wise it’s not an issue,” Hecht said.
In addition to the employees themselves, spouses and families are welcome to the Elmen Center with a family pass.
Daniel Workman, assistant professor of theatre, takes advantage of this policy, often playing racquetball with his wife. Workman and his family also participate in tennis, basketball and water aerobics. They’ve used the Elmen since moving to Sioux Falls two years ago.
“When the wrestling room is available,” Workman said, “we’ll go in there and play a game of kickball.”
While the Workman household has only been using the Elmen for a short time, senior director of development Nate Dally has been participating in programs from the start.
“I have the same locker,” said Dally, who participates in a large array of intramurals. “I’ve been part of a very stellar intramural team – the Staff Pack,” he said, describing a team of administration and faculty members who band together to play volleyball, basketball, walleyball and softball.
Dally is one of 35 faculty who participated in intramural activities last year. He said it’s been beneficial to have the Elmen Center providing opportunities to get to know students, and the free use of Recreational Services is one of the great perks of a career at Augustana.
In addition to his intramural involvement, Dally stays active in other ways at the Elmen, trying to come three to five times a week as his travel schedule allows. He said his Elmen workouts have been instrumental in maintaining his health.
Seth Vogelsang, an Augustana senior and former head weight room supervisor for the Elmen, agrees with the policy of faculty/staff participation.
“It’s a service provided to all members of the Augustana community,” he said.
Vogelsang said that “it is fun to be competitive against people that aren’t your peers. They don’t have any unfair advantage or anything like that.”
Vogelsang said he has seen firsthand that the traffic in the Elmen generated by faculty and staff is not impeding on student use.
Jody Nitz, a registrar assistant, works out regularly on campus. According to Hecht, last year Nitz attended the faculty/staff circuit weight fitness class approximately 30 times and utilized the weight room an additional 50 times.
“I just go over there on my lunch hour usually,” Nitz said. Her husband Michael Nitz, associate professor in the communications department, often takes advantage of the pool.
Nitz said she’s been using the Elmen since 2005, and “trying different classes and different instructors keeps it new and interesting.”