The National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) is heating up its annual conference under the Florida sun in a city that takes its recreation seriously.

As well as being the home to five professional sports franchises, Tampa, FL, will open its doors to the 2012 NIRSA Annual Conference and Recreational Sports Exposition from March 27-30 at the Tampa Convention Center.

The four-day event targets collegiate recreational sports professionals, students and industry vendors to offer insights about the ever-changing higher education environment, strategies to continue to generate innovative ideas and tactics to turn those ideas into action.

Interim Executive Director Pam Watts says the opportunities presented at the conference will help renew participants’ enthusiasm and commitment for collegiate recreation.

“These opportunities to meet and network with attendees are guaranteed to stimulate new ideas and expand your professional network,” Watts says. “The energy, passion and sharing of ideas among collegiate recreation professionals and students is inspiring.”

In addition to several pre-conference workshops and opportunities to experience Tampa prior to the conference, the NIRSA Foundation Board will bring back the most popular event from the 2011 NIRSA Conference, the community service project. This year, participants may volunteer on Tuesday, March 27, to clear trash washed to shore along the Courtney Campbell Causeway while experiencing scenic views of the bay and wildlife.

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The conference gets rolling that same day with the help of Jon Gordon, author of “The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Life and Work” and “Soup: A Recipe to Nourish Your Team and Culture.” His keynote speech, starting at 4:30 p.m., will mirror the topics of his best-selling books about enhancing leadership, teamwork and sales performance.

The keynote address will be followed by the grand opening of the recreational sports exhibition show floor and a social to welcome new members and first-time show attendees, both starting at 6 p.m.

On Wednesday, March 28, attendees can participate in a morning workout from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. to get pumped up for a busy day ahead, including networking with potential employers at the career opportunities center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (with the exception of the lunch hour from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.) and a second opportunity to tour the exhibition show floor from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Educational sessions begin at 8:30 a.m., with more than 110 sessions spreading across 24 tracks.

As the conference heats up, NIRSA offers plenty of ways to cool down, get active and get to know each other. Those planning to arrive early on Tuesday can sign up for one of several sightseeing tours. Attendees also can play in the 18th Annual NIRSA Foundation Golf Tournament or gear up for the third annual Mark Fletcher 5K Fun Run/Walk on Bayshore Boulevard. The event, which also benefits the NIRSA Foundation, is named in honor of a 32-year member of NIRSA who passed away in 2009.

At the heart of the NIRSA conference lies networking opportunities, and this year is no exception, with socials planned for most evenings. An all-conference social will be held on Wednesday, March 28, at Channelside Bay Plaza, an entertainment complex and popular Tampa destination just a few blocks from the convention center. NIRSA attendees will have exclusive access to three venues and an outdoor plaza that will feature a Jimmy Buffett-style band.

NEXT PAGE: NIRSA 2012 SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

2012 NIRSA CONFERENCE SCHEDULE

Tuesday, March 27

  • 8 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. – Preconference workshops, trips, community service project
  • 8 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. – NIRSA Foundation golf tournament
  • Noon - 3:30 p.m. – Career opportunities center
  • 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. – Welcome, awards recognition and opening general session
  • 6 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. – Recreational sports expo
  • 6 p.m. - 7 p.m. – New member welcome
  • 7:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. – Student social

Wednesday, March 28

  • 7 a.m. - 8 a.m. – Early morning workout
  • 8 a.m. - Noon – Career opportunities center
  • 8:30 a.m. - 11 a.m. – Educational sessions
  • 9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. – Recreational sports expo
  • 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. – Past presidents lunch
  • Noon - 1 p.m. – T-shirt exchange
  • 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. – Career opportunities center
  • 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. – Educational sessions
  • 4:15 p.m. - 6:15 p.m. – Annual meeting of the members and awards recognition
  • 6:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. – Lee Wasson people of color social (program starts at 7 p.m.)
  • 8:30 p.m. - 1 a.m. – All-conference social/ alternate social

Thursday, March 29

  • 7:30 a.m. - 10 a.m. – Career opportunities center
  • 8 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. – Educational sessions
  • 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. – Student member connection
  • 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. – Take-a-student-tolunch and meet a mentor for life
  • 1 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. – Career opportunities center
  • 1 p.m. - 2 p.m. – NIRSA financial overview
  • 2 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. – Educational sessions
  • 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. – Regional member network connections and socials
  • 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. – LGBTQI and friends social
  • 7:30 p.m. - 10 p.m. – Independent socials

Friday, March 30

  • 7 a.m. - 8 a.m. – Mark Fletcher fun run/walk
  • 8:30 a.m. - Noon – Educational sessions
  • 8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. – Workshop
  • 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. – Career opportunities center
  • Noon - 1 p.m. – Committee meetings
  • 1:30 p.m. - 3 p.m. – Closing general session
  • 5 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. – Pre-honor award banquet reception
  • 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. – Honor award banquet
  • 8:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. – Reception for honor award winner

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