It’s hailed worldwide as the birthplace of jazz, but the city of New Orleans is where the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) got its start, too.

NIRSA, originally known as the National Intramural Association, was born in 1950 at Dillard University in New Orleans when a conference of intramural directors from 11 historically black colleges decided to form a national organization for those involved in collegiate intramural programs.

More than half a century later, NIRSA has grown to represent staff and students at more than 700 colleges and universities, but the organization hasn’t forgotten its roots—in fact, it’s returning to The Big Easy April 13-16 for the 2011 NIRSA Annual Conference and Recreational Sports Exposition.

In addition to several pre-conference workshops and events, NIRSA show attendees have the chance to give back to the city that’s been dealt a series of hard knocks during the past few years by participating in a community service project at New Orleans City Park on Wednesday, April 13. In 2005, 95 percent of the park’s 1,300 acres were flooded by Hurricane Katrina, but the treasured recreation spot is gradually recovering, thanks in part to volunteer projects such as this one.

The conference itself kicks off that same day with some words of inspiration from someone who knows a thing or two about kickoffs. Archie Manning, the former NFL quarterback of the New Orleans Saints and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame (not to mention Peyton and Eli’s dad), will present his keynote speech “Archie’s Four Principles” at the opening general session at 4:30 p.m. Manning’s speech 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 Thursday, attendees can participate in a morning workout from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. to get pumped up for a busy day ahead, including the NIRSA budget review at 8 a.m. and a second occasion to tour the exhibition show floor from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Educational sessions begin at 8:30 a.m. and cover a range of topics, including career preparation and development, aquatics, facility planning and design, fitness, research and assessment, facility management, inclusive/adaptive recreation, outdoor and experiential, and technology.

In addition to the learning opportunities presented by the education sessions and expo floor, attendees also can find out about job openings by stopping by the career opportunities center. The center is open all four days of the conference.

Of course, one wouldn’t expect a conference for recreation professionals to be all work and no play, so NIRSA has lined up plenty of ways for attendees to stay active, get to know each other and see the city. Those planning to arrive early on Wednesday can sign up for one of several sightseeing tours or to play in a golf tournament to benefit the NIRSA Foundation. Socials are planned for most evenings, including several geared toward specific communities and an all-conference social on Thursday, April 14, with live jazz and zydeco music that is sure to get attendees in the Mardi Gras mood. Finally, save some energy for the morning of Saturday, April 16, and lace up for the Mark Fletcher 5K Fun Run/Walk through the streets of New Orleans. The event, which also benefits the NIRSA Foundation, is named in honor of a 32-year member of NIRSA who passed away in 2009.

NEXT PAGE: NIRSA 2011 SCHEDULE

NIRSA 2011 SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Wednesday, April 13
8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Pre-conference workshops; sightseeing trips; community service project; NIRSA Foundation golf tournament
4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. Opening general session, with keynote speech by Archie Manning, former NFL quarterback
6 p.m. – 7 p.m. New member welcome
6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Recreational sports exposition grand opening

Thursday, April 14
7 a.m. – 8 a.m. Early morning workout
8 a.m. – 9 a.m. Budget review session
8 a.m. – 10 a.m. 40th Anniversary Women’s Breakfast (pre-registration and additional cost required)
8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Educational sessions
9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Recreational sports exposition open
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Past President’s Lunch
Noon – 1 p.m. T-shirt exchange
1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Educational sessions
4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. Regional meetings/member network connection
6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Lee Wasson People of Color Social (program starts 6:30 p.m.)
8:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. All Conference Social/Alternate Social

Friday, April 15
8 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Educational sessions
10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Student business meeting
10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Professional educational sessions
11:45 a.m. – 1:45 p.m. Take-a-Student-to-Lunch
2 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. Educational sessions
4:30 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. Annual meeting of members
5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. Cajun Night at Michaul’s (pre-registration and additional cost required)
7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Independent socials
7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. LGBTQ and Friends Social

Saturday, April 16
6:30 a.m. – 7:30 a.m. Mark Fletcher 5K Fun Run/Walk (pre-registration and additional cost required)
8:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Educational sessions
9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Workshop
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Committee meetings
2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Closing general session, with keynote speech by Mary-Alice Ozechoski, dean of students at Wesley College, Dover, DE
5:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. Pre-banquet reception
6 p.m. – 9 p.m. NIRSA Honor Award Banquet

NEXT PAGE: NIRSA 2011 EXHIBITOR LIST

NIRSA 2011 EXHIBITOR LIST

2XL Corporation 1121
360 Architecture 1018
AB Coaster 1216
ACE-American Council on Exercise 828
ACSM-American College of Sports Medicine 1029
Active Network, Communities 818
AFAA-Aerobics & Fitness Assoc. 1027
Antiwave Pool Products 1212
Aquatic Design 925
Athleague 935
Athletic & Rec. Products 524
Athletic Business 1026
Athletix Products 920
Big Ass Fans 1134
Brailsford & Dunlavey 719
BSN Sports 936
The Collaborative Inc 927
Canisius College 1119
Cannon Design 825
Cawley Co. 633
CC Creations LTD 1032
Centers LLC 721
Colorado Time Systems 629
Connor Sports Flooring 1137
COSMED USA Inc. 929
Counsilman Hunsaker 728
Covermaster Inc. 1024
Covington Flooring Co. Inc. 1034
CSI Software 916
Cybex 700
Cybex Fitness Forum 540
Demo Area 340
Eldorado Climbing Walls 1124
Electro-Mech Scoreboard 516
EMS Software 617
Entre Prises Climbing Walls 718
EZ Facility Inc. 624
FieldTurf 625
Fitness Anywhere 832
FreeMotion Fitness 809
Frontier Pro Shop 921
Gill Athletics/Porter Athletic 837
Gopher Preformance 924
The Green Revolution 836
Hastings & Chivetta Architects 1028
Hughes Group Architects 1125
Human Kinetics 1132
imleagues.com 717
Infinity Flooring 1118
InnoSoft Canada Inc. 937
INNOVA Disc Golf 537
Les Mills 725
Life Fitness 708
Lose & Associates Inc. 533
Marmon Mok Architecture 819
Matrix Fitness 1101
MicroFit Inc. 517
Mikasa Sports USA 928
MINDBODY Inc. 521
Missouri Turf Paint 1020
Mondo 1009
Moody-Nolan Inc. 729
MSA Sport Architects 933
mtvU 833
Musco Sports Lighting 1019
Myrtha Pools 732
NETA-National Exercise Trainers Association 1025
Nicros Climbing Walls 632
NIRSA/Cyber station 740
North American Specialty Flooring 826
Octane Fitness 1012
Paramount Fitness 909
PBK Sports 1126
Perform Better 1226
Power Lift 1232
Power Systems, Inc. 917
Precor Inc. 1001
PSA Dewberry 716
Purchase Officials Supplies 636
RDG Planning & Design 824
REACH Sports Group 637
Recreation Management 827
Robbins Inc. 1036
RTH Processing 628
Rowley International Inc. 934
Sasaki Associates Inc. 816
Schelde North America 817
Sink Combs Dethlefs 932
SLD of the Adidas Group 1224
Spalding 1233
SmithGroup/FS 724
Sports Imports Inc. 1016
SPRI 829
Star Trac 1225
Student Health 101 1117
Summit America Insurance 1017
Summit Lockers Inc. 835
Sunflower Marketing 1116
SunQuest Energy/ReRev 616
Technogym 1109
TMP Architecture Inc. 1128
Total Gym 1217
Trixter 735
True Fitness 812
UBU Sports 733
Ultimate Athletic Sportswear 736
USTA 1040
Vermont Systems Inc. 621
Water Technology Inc. 821
Woodway 801
WTW Architects 620