By Megan Jacklin
Now more than ever, we are noticing a shift in what “recreation” means to the student body. Gone are the days where sport and recreation are narrowed down to just traditional sports such as hockey or basketball. Recreation has evolved and we need to be able to support that evolution and ensure that we are offering programs to enhance the experience that our student athletes and participants are seeking.
The OCAA is on the forefront of change when it comes to collegiate recreational programs. A managing body known as the OCR (Ontario Collegiate Recreation) is unique within the college and university structure of North America and provides the opportunity to harness the expertise of the campus recreation staff throughout all institutions.
OCR recently adopted a game-changing rebrand known as the RECSport Model, aimed to expand opportunities to students seeking recreational ways to get involved in sport. This model provides OCR with a new foundation for current extramural programming that will now support and encompass a much wider range of campus recreation activities. This will allow ALL of the OCR members to have a greater opportunity for involvement and creativity in recreation programming.
The RECSport Model is currently comprised of 3 pillars: RECPlay, RECFest and RECSeries. Each pillar has distinguishing criteria aimed to be inclusive of a vast number of recreational programs that are offered to each individual campus of OCR colleges/universities. The RECSeries pillar encompasses all extramural programs that provide 2+ tournaments in a given year. The RECPlay pillar includes all remaining extramural tournaments or exhibition-style games between OCR schools. Finally, the RECFest pillar is comprised of regional multi-sport events inclusive of non-traditional activities held in a gladiator-style format. A fourth pillar known as RECCup is currently under evaluation and may potentially be added to the model to include more competitive recreation programs.
OCR extramural programs serve over 4535 students in 2018-2019, an exponential difference from elite-level varsity programming. It is clear that recreation has the opportunity to touch a larger percentage of the student body than any varsity program so efforts need to be directed towards enhancing them.
From traditional sport tournaments such as Extramural Volleyball or Basketball, to niche-style events such as table tennis or weightlifting, the RECSport Model supports it all. The model is aimed to capture more data on the overall involvement ratio as well as make room for a better showcase of those “hidden gems” of recreation that aren’t well promoted. The OCR has worked hard to implement this new model and hopes that it will bring more attention to the need for more recreational programs. Each OCR institution has committed to adopting this model within their own campus programming and use it as a foundational tool to hopefully expand their current recreational offerings.
Recreation provides a more inclusive, welcoming and casual experience for students than varsity would. Regardless of the pillar or the event, our goal is that students feel connected and supported. Whether that is through the team atmosphere of RECSeries Extramural teams or the excitement of a big RECFest event or the professional development opportunities available through Student Lead on Conferences, our hope is that each student can find a “home” in recreation.