University Recreation Staff Recognized at NIRSA National Conference

Kaitlyn McCracken, Katherine Haarmann and Nathan Lonngren at the NIRSA national conference.
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Kaitlyn McCracken, Katherine Haarmann and Nathan Lonngren at the NIRSA national conference.

The 2019 NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation national conference took place from Feb. 16-19 in Boston and was attended by 2,397 professionals from 485 institutions. University Recreation staff members received national recognition and scholarships at the annual conference.  

Abby Blumberg, former University Recreation graduate assistant, received the NIRSA Service Award which celebrates the efforts of individuals in the NIRSA community who have gone above and beyond their call of duty in their volunteer service. While a graduate assistant, Blumberg served as the Region IV Student representative from 2017-2018 and received this award for her creative recruitment and engagement of students. Blumberg served in her assistantship with UREC from 2016-2018.

"Abby has a strong passion for student development and was always interested in connecting students with the field of collegiate recreation," said Erin Butler, assistant director for assessment and staff development.

Katherine Haarmann, UREC graduate assistant for Intramural Sports, was selected as the NIRSA regional student representative for 2019-2020. In this role, she will work in conjunction with regional representatives to advance the goals of NIRSA, as well as student membership and participation.

"During her first year as a graduate assistant she got involved by serving on the Region IV Student Lead-On planning committee that helped create networking and educational opportunites for students at the Region IV conference," said Jonathan Elliott, assistant director for intramural and club sports. "I'm excited to see her leadership continue to influence more students through this opportunity." 

Jeremy Battjes, director of University Recreation, was chosen to present at the conference. The presentations were:

  • "Professional Skill Enhancement through Campus Recreation Employment: Results from Two Doctoral Dissertations" which explored the findings associated with the professional skills learned and enhanced through student employment in a collegiate recreation setting.  
  • "Prescribing Collegiate Recreation as an Intentional Intervention for Academically-Unprepared Students" where attendees learned about a program, UREC Healthy Hogs, that demonstrates the value of collegiate recreation through a no-cost co-curricular program designed to complement the academic experience.  

Nathan Lonngren, graduate assistant for Club Sports and Kaitlyn McCracken, graduate assistant for UREC facilities, were both awarded NIRSA Foundation Travel Assistance Stipends, which covered the cost of the conference registration.

Additionally, three other UREC employees serve in NIRSA roles. Meagan Purdy, graduate assistant for student development, serves as the Arkansas student state leader, and Kristin DeAngelo, associate director for facilities, serves as the Arkansas state representative. Jonathan Elliott serves on the NIRSA Championship Series student and professional development committee, as well as the Region IV Planning Committee.

NIRSA is a higher education association composed of collegiate recreation, sport, and fitness departments from across the United States and Canada. The association began in 1950 as the National Intramural Association, eventually taking on the moniker NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation. There are over 600 member institutions belonging to NIRSA.



Lindsay Smith, assistant director
University Recreation


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