By: Paul Isom, ECU Director of Student Media
Chelsea Phipps’ interest in intramural sports began when she joined a basketball team that needed an extra player.
Her love of “playing intramurals with strangers” led to a stint as an intramural official and a degree in physical education in sports management at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton. That led to graduate school at ECU, where she’s pursuing a master’s degree in recreation and park administration.
The 22-year-old’s journey through recreation sports recently took her back to Edmonton where she presented a session on intramural sports at the Western Canadian Campus Recreation conference. Conference attendees learned how ECU utilizes student intramural officials and left impressed with both Phipps as a presenter and the program she represents at ECU. Without Them, It’s Just Recess: The Importance of a Strong Student Officiating Program Chelsea Phipps WCCRC 2010
Her presentation – the first solo presentation in her young career – dealt with the benefits of utilizing students as officials to referee intramural games and was titled “Without Them It’s Just Recess: The Importance of a Strong Student Officiating Program.”
She said most presentations at campus recreation conferences center on intramural student athletes. That ratcheted up interest in her perspective on the other students involved in intramurals – those who work as officials.
“The student officiating program is strong at ECU,” Phipps said in the intramural sports office in the Student Recreation Center. Campus Recreation and Wellness, part of the division of Student Affairs, operates ECU’s intramural sports program. “Essentially, I did a case study of the setup at ECU, like tips on training and recognition. It was neat to present about what’s going on down here.”
In her presentation, she noted 119 students worked as intramural officials in the ECU program in the fall of 2009. She led the conference attendees through steps to recruit, train, evaluate, recognize and retain student officials. She also noted the many benefits to those who participate as officials, including the development of their leadership, conflict resolution and time management skills.
The ECU model was new for many Canadian schools at the conference, where officials are often out-sourced from external and community organizations, or officials aren’t utilized at all.
The presentation “went over well,” she said. “People were taking it in. I got a lot of good complements and people have been in touch since for advice.”
Phipps chose ECU’s graduate program after considering similar programs at Iowa, North Texas and Western Illinois. When she came to Greenville to begin her graduate assistantship, she was amazed at the facilities of the Student Recreation Center as well as the North Recreational Complex and the Blount Sports Complex. “I walked in and my jaw dropped,” she recalled. “Western Canada has nothing compared to this.”
After graduation, Phipps is willing to move anywhere for jobs in university recreation. Changing scenery isn’t new to her as she grew up in the Cayman Islands before moving to Edmonton. She’d like to work in intramurals, club sports or with fitness programs and ultimately, would like to be a director of campus recreation because she “loves university life.”
According to Nance Mize, interim associate vice chancellor for Student Services and director of ECU Campus Recreation and Wellness, Phipps will be a good one. “She is well on her way to being a director one day because of her outstanding work ethic, continued initiative and competitive team spirit,” Mize said. “Her professionalism and initiative have been outstanding. When she took the initiative to submit a presentation for this conference, we knew we (Campus Recreation and Wellness) would be represented in a quality manner and she would get her name out there as a quality professional in our field.”
Wherever she ends up, Phipps will take a little part of ECU with her.
“ECU is good at offering what students want,” she said. “I’m happy to get to experience something like this. It will help me going forward.”