North Central College - Naperville, IL

Recreation Energizes Campus

While 25 percent of North Central students are involved in intercollegiate athletics, many more are taking advantage of new intramural activities on campus. Students are turning out in big numbers for sports leagues, one-day tournaments, fitness classes and open gym courts for pick-up games.

Expanded intramural, recreational and fitness sports programs are now possible thanks to a new full-time coordinator and completion of the Res/Rec Center.

“It definitely adds more things to do on campus and becomes a social hangout," says Kelly Ator ’11, who has been active in volleyball leagues and worked as a referee. “These activities create a good atmosphere on campus with people talking about their upcoming games—there’s just more energy.”

Ator says that key to the program’s early success has been the enthusiasm of Corey Bitzer, coordinator of recreation and wellness programs since September 2009. Intramurals and fitness are important to any campus, says Bitzer, who was very active in intramurals while a student at the University of Indiana. She was so active, in fact, that she was named the “greatest living intramural athlete” by the Sports Illustrated On Campus magazine.

“Sports activities reduce stress, increase overall energy and help develop a sense of community,” she says. “Students who participate are shown to have better grade-point averages and improved retention. They’re more satisfied with their overall college experience.”

For the fall and winter terms, 500 students were engaged in recreational sports. During fall term, 34 intramural teams were formed, involving nearly 200 students, and some 120 students took part in structured open gym activities during D-Term. With the opening of the Res/Rec Center, 42 teams and 220 students were involved in intramurals and more than 65 people participated each week in fitness classes. Team sports for indoor and outdoor leagues have included flag football, basketball, volleyball, soccer, speedball and softball. Bitzer organizes teams that are both co-ed and single sex, and she’ll also divide popular leagues like men’s basketball into levels that accommodate both skilled high school athletes and easy-going recreational players. Badminton is also popular at North Central Bitzer learned, so she put together a league and scheduled an open gym session that attracted 22 players.

4436541976_c77195277f_o.tifAlso popular are one-day tournaments for activities like dodgeball and three-on-three basketball. “Students like one-day events that don’t require a big commitment of time,” Bitzer explains.

Fitness classes have included boot camp, yoga, Zumba and kickboxing. “At some yoga classes, we’ve had to turn people away. There’s a real demand for non-competitive fitness opportunities,” she adds. Those classes—and the intramural leagues—are also open to faculty and staff participants. This winter, two basketball teams and a volleyball team were composed of North Central staff.

Anders Storm, an exchange student from Sweden, has competed in badminton, volleyball, indoor soccer and speedball. He’s impressed by the opportunities that came about when Res/Rec opened. “I like sports, I’ve played soccer all my life,” he says. “Intramurals have been a lot of fun. And it’s a really great way to meet people if you’re from another country because it gives you something in common, something to talk about.”

To learn more about the many programs, visit

North Central NOW Spring 2010