The biggest athletic success story at the University of Alberta these days is the one that takes place daily in the gyms and in the pools, on the ice and playing fields, and on the tracks and racquet courts early in the morning, at noon and in the evening.
"It's amazing what's happening," says Hugh Hoyles. "We're being inundated with people wanting to participate."
It is precisely this sort of enthusiasm for recreational activity that recently led to the establishment of the campus recreation program which Hoyles now heads.
While "Campus Recreation" is itself new, the program is the result of a slow evolution which has taken place over the past four or so years, explains Hoyles.
"With the change in people's lifestyles and the move to fitness, the traditional approach to recreation on campus was no longer appropriate. The intramurals program was not offering something suitable for the total University community."
The new program combines intramurals-men's, women's and co-rec with non-credit instruction in recreational and fitness activities, and the staff fitness and lifestyle program. "It's working really well," says Hoyles. And the numbers bear him out: 88 teams registered for co-rec volleyball, close to 2,000 people playing recreational hockey, 900 participants in the staff fitness and lifestyle program, and on and on.
Hoyles estimates that in 1982-83 between six and seven thousand different people participated in the programs now under the campus recreation umbrella. And this year new participation records are being set. Last year, Art Burgess, the University's effervescent "Mr. Fitness", attracted some 700 persons with the fall offerings in his imaginative staff fitness and lifestyle program; this fall's enrolment increased by about 200 participants. Paticicpation in other areas of campus recreation is climbing as well — and at a percentage rate even greater than this year's sizeable increase in University registration, says Hoyles.
Not surprisingly, Hoyles is enthusiastic about the restructuring which has increased the attention the University is paying to campus recreation.
However, he is a strong supporter of intercollegiate athletic competition as well: "It's healthy if a University sees that intercollegiate competition and a program to meet the recreational needs on campus have to co-exist." Just as a person should strive to be wellbalanced, he says, a university must seek a balance — a balance between the pursuit of excellence in athletics and excellence in the organization of recreational opportunities for the total University community.
The campus recreation co-ordinator is pleased with the "marriage" of interuniversity athletics and campus recreation at the U of A; the responsibility for both falling within the purview of the department of athletic services, Faculty of Physical Education.
Hoyles is himself a former intercollegiate competitor and, for a number of years, coached the Golden Bear volleyball team. He also served a stint as the head coach of the Pandas volleyball squad. In the mid-70s, he took a leave from the U of A to serve as the director of volleyball at the Montreal Olympics.
"Volleyball has been good to me," he says, with memories of people met and countries visited. "But," he continues, "my first love is campus recreation — seeing people participate in a well-organized program of activities."
As an undergraduate student at the University, he was the intramurals unit manager for Phys Ed. He was the president of men's athletics. As a graduate student, he looked after the campus intramural program-"it was the time when the program was really beginning to expand," he says. And when he graduated, he was offered a staff position as director of intramurals.
Now he's happy to have a mandate to look after the recreational needs of the total University community.
Published WInter 1983.