2018 WIRSA State Conference – Recap

2018 WIRSA State Conference

Date: Oct. 3-5, 2018

Host: University of Wisconsin-River Falls

The 2018 WIRSA State Conference was hosted October 3-5 by the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, the UW-River Falls Pro Staff, and a host of Campus Recreation Student Employees.  The trip back to the west side of the Badger State featured the unveiling of the long-awaited Falcon Center for Health, Education, and Wellness and it did not disappoint.

Sitting WIRSA State Director, Ryan Rudesill (Assistant Director – UW-River Falls), oversaw the state conference serving in his final term before turning over the reins to Director Elect, Chad Schultz (Assistant Director of Instructional Programs & Staff Development – UW-Madison).  The complete WIRSA Executive Board consists of Sandy Wilson, Treasurer (Assistant Director of Membership Services – UW-Madison), Marci Iverson, Secretary (Director – Viterbo University), Andy Jepsen, Historian (Director – UW-Eau Claire), and Ian Howden, Student State Leader (UW-Milwaukee).

UW-River Falls planned to kick off the 2018 conference by showcasing many of the region’s greatest features through pre-conference events, including a mountain bike tour of River Falls, golfing at the prestigious Troy Burne Golf Course, a kayak trip down the scenic cold water Kinnikinnic River fishery, and the annual fishing contest for the coveted “rake”.  Unfortunately, weather threatened many of these events, with kayaking and the annual fishing contest cancelled due to high water and the threat of lightning.

The Educational Sessions kicked off with a welcome from Steve Stocker (Director – UW-River Falls) and keynote address by former Wisconsin Badger Wrestler and All-American, Kevin Black.  Black challenged everyone to reach within themselves to find their inner greatness. Black helped coach Helen Maroulis, 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist, in Rio de Janeiro in women’s wrestling.

The lineup of educational sessions featured a wide array of topics impacting Campus Recreation across a full spectrum.  Key sessions included Pioneers and Settlers delivered by Keynote Speaker, Kevin Black, as well as topics related to Assessment, Mental Health, Social Media, Creating a Leadership Culture, Technology in Recreation, Partnering to Create a Successful Unified Sports Experience, Youth Camps, Recreational and Intersectional; Creating Safe Spaces for LGBTQIA Students, Maximizing Resources, a Young Professionals Panel, Understanding Sexual Violence, Hazing from a Prevention Lens, and lastly, Falcon Center 2.0.

During the state business meeting, the association expressed its gratitude to Director Ryan Rudesill and Secretary Marci Iverson with their terms coming to an end in May 2019.  The association is happy to announce and welcome newly elected officers Therese Kennedy, Secretary (Associate Director, UW-Whitewater) and Marci Iverson as Director Elect.  Both of their terms will start May 2019.

WIRSA handed out the prestigious WIRSA Service Award to Mike Warren (Associate Director former WIRSA State Director, UW-Madison), recognizing Mike for his ongoing leadership and contributions to WIRSA and Campus Recreation. Megan Lee, UW-River Falls Recreation Services Student Staff Member, earned the WIRSA Student

Leadership Award and a $250 scholarship for professional development. Lastly, the first annual WIRSA T-Shirt of the Year award was awarded to UW Stout’s Adventures Program.

Did we mention the food? WIRSA socials provided several opportunities for networking and getting to know one another.  Socials that were sponsored by wonderful corporate sponsors included Direct Fitness Solutions/Precor USA Juniors Social on Wednesday night, Kiefer Specialty Flooring/Mondo USA for breakfast on Thursday, Summit Commercial Fitness/Matrix USA Belle Vinez Vineyard & Winery Social on Thursday evening, and lastly, the Woodway USA Late Night Social to cap off Thursday night.

As part of the Belle Vinez Social, the Silent Auction was conducted and raised $1,712 for student scholarships as well as an additional $267 during the 50/50 raffle.  In total, $1,979 will directly impact furthering student development opportunities for students.  The t-shirt exchange also took place Thursday night and featured plenty of outstanding t-shirts representing school colors and campus culture.

2018 WIRSA State Conference “By the Numbers”

  • Attendance at WIRSA 2018
    • NIRSA Member Professional from a member institution: 56
    • NIRSA Member Professional from a non-member institution: 8 (plus 11 comp’d vendors)
    • NIRSA Member Student from a non-member institution: 2
    • NIRSA Member Student from a member institution: 41
    • One Day Registrations: 8
  • Total Participation: 126 Attendees

Once again, the conference would not be possible on this level without the generosity of our corporate partners.  This year’s sponsors include the following:

Direct Fitness Solutions / Precor USA

Summit Commercial Fitness/Matrix USA

Woodway USA

Hastings and Chivetta Architects

Kiefer Specialty Flooring/Mondo USA

InnoSoft Fusion

Life Fitness

Kahler Slater


WinCraft Haldeman-Homme

Premier Golf and Utility Vehicles

Schmidt Custom Flooring


Thank you to all that attended, and we look forward to seeing you all at Lead On and the NIRSA Annual Conference in February.  WIRSA is the Besta!