Orientation Event Gives Freshmen a
Sporting Chance

Posted: July 11, 2014 at 5:00 am, Last Updated: July 11, 2014 at 7:21 am

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By Preston Williams

Luke Burneson, an incoming George Mason University student and rowing enthusiast, relaxed on the Recreation and Athletic Center (RAC) bleachers with about 300 of his fellow freshmen during an orientation session and noticed crew club team members working out on ergometers in another part of the facility.

"Rockin The Rac"

As part of their orientation sessions, incoming freshmen attend “Rockin’ the RAC,” an event at the Recreation and Athletic Complex that introduces students to the various club sports offerings on campus, including Zumba, a combination of dance and aerobics. Photo by Creative Services.

“I saw these,” the engineering major from Arlington, Va., says, catching his breath, after giving the ergometers a try. “I had to come do it.”

That’s the idea behind “Rockin’ the RAC,” an event that takes place the first night of each of the seven summer orientation sessions. Incoming students learn about the various club and rec sports offerings on campus and are free to tour and try out the RAC facilities.

"Rockin The Rac"

The university offers 32 club sports and many other activities that promote student fitness. Students can try out and sign up for many of the activities during the “Rockin’ the RAC” sessions.

It’s a way to acquaint students with some of George Mason’s amenities―and each other.

“One of the main purposes of it is to socialize and start to build that sense of belonging during the summer,” says Charles Nicholson, the assistant director of marketing for Mason Recreation. “When they come back for classes, they already have a handful of friends that they have connected with.”

University Life; Intercollegiate Athletics; the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism; and University Career Services also have roles in staging the Rockin’ the RAC events, introduced last year.

Just a few minutes after the students were free to explore the facility last week, Katie Connolly, from Long Island, N.Y., already had signed interest sheets for the running and field hockey clubs.

“Just trying to stay fit, build good habits,” says Connolly, who has not declared a major. “I knew [Mason] had Division I teams and stuff like that, but they also show you the options they have for [club and intramural] sports.”

Lilly Bowen, an athletic training major from Arlington, tested out the weights and added her repetition total to the white board at that station. Later she gathered information at the Quidditch club table and officiating club table, and also shot some baskets.

Bowen has to be choosy. The commuter student with a part-time job (at a gym) has more interests―there are 32 club sports―than time.

"Rockin The Rac"

“Rockin’ the RAC” not only promotes fitness. It builds school spirit, enables incoming freshmen to make friends before school starts and gives students a greater sense of community. Photo by Creative Services.

“I’m pretty much up for anything this year, anything I can handle that’s not too much on my plate,” she says. “I want to be well balanced.”

There are many benefits to those who can find that balance. Studies have shown that college students who incorporate fitness activities into their schedules perform better in class, handle stress better and have a greater sense of belonging to their university.

Ben Nachman, a freshman engineering major from Richmond, Va., is considering playing Mason club baseball, but he also would like to try ice hockey. First order of business: Learn to skate.

“This is a really good experience because there are so many opportunities that you don’t know exist at the school,” he says. “It’s a shame that people actually miss this event, because to me, they could be missing out on a big part of their academic and athletic career here at Mason.”

“The best part about it is that you get to meet people from all the clubs while you’re doing all these fun things,” says Lou LePore, a computer game design major from Bristow, Va., who was working the club football signup table. “It’s all for fun. It’s club. It’s the communication with other people and the contacts you make that I like the most.”

Write to Preston Williams at pwilli20@gmu.edu

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