Miami University celebrates the 25th anniversary of its recreational sports center on Sept. 16.
Miami University celebrates the 25th anniversary of its recreational sports center on Sept. 16. Photo: Jeff Sabo

Miami's recreational sports center celebrates 25 years

Free admission and more on Sept. 16

By Kristal Humphrey, university news and communications

Participation in sports and recreation have a long history at Miami University with Herron Gym, the first building designated as a recreation facility, being built in 1887.

This year, Miami honors the 25th anniversary of its recreational sports center with a celebration on Monday, Sept. 16.

The celebration includes free admission that day as well as special discounts, promotions and giveaways, and free programs including group fitness classes, pickleball, climbing wall activities and more.

Headshot of Doug Curry

Doug Curry

Also, many long-standing rec center members and staff will be recognized, including Doug Curry, who has worked at the center since 1995 and is currently executive director for recreation services.

The first director of recreation, Sally Myers, had a vision of what recreation could be at Miami, which included the recreational sports center.

“I’m not sure if Sally or any of the administrators were aware of the impact of having the rec center,” said Curry. “They thought it would be good for students, but it went far beyond that.”

Miami students had to vote to have the center built and were overwhelmingly in support of raising their student fee to make it happen. Curry is proud that they have kept the focus on students first, while also offering things for faculty, staff and the community.

Award-winning facility

The rec center won a facility of merit award from Athletic Business and a facility of distinction award from the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association.

Curry said soon after Miami’s facility opened, Georgia State was trying to get a recreation center built and had photos of Miami’s center in its student union as an example of what could be done.

Whenever Curry talks to parents and/or future students who are taking a tour of the center, they always ask the age of the facility. He makes them guess, and over the last 10 years, their responses have been 6-8 years old. He says that’s a tribute to maintaining the facility and making sure it looks the best it can.

International, national and regional events

Rec center programming includes aquatics; club and intramural sports; fitness, outdoor and equestrian activities; and summer camps for youth. The center has hosted international, national and regional events.

The outdoor pursuit center hosted the International Conference on Outdoor Recreation and Education and plans several trips, including a 4-week trip to New Zealand. This trip and many other courses at the rec center enable students to earn academic credit.

The aquatics center has hosted national conferences and national events in swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming. They also hosted an international meet and the Chinese diving team, which used the facility as a practice facility. The aquatics center averages more than 150 days of meets a year.

aquatic center pool and diving well

Miami's aquatics center. Photo courtesy of intercollegiate athletics.

A fast pool and no slippery water

When the rec center was built, they wanted a state-of-the-art aquatic center and Curry said they did just that because people still say it’s a fast pool. The gutter system, depth of the water and width of the lanes all help determine how fast a distance swimmer can swim. Due to no splash back, deep water and wider lanes in Miami’s pool, “They say we don’t produce slippery water,” said Curry.

What does the future hold?

Curry is proud that they have been able to stay on the cutting edge, which includes everything from the scoreboard and timing system in the aquatics center to their ability to buy new equipment in the fitness area as trends change. He says that wouldn’t be possible without the support of Miami’s administration.

Staff will continue to find out what students want through surveys and talking to their more than 300 student employees. They also participate in the state and national conference and hear about trends there.

Curry said when the building first opened the two fitness rooms had very little equipment in them. At that time, step classes were the big thing. Then, spinning became popular. Today, wellness activities such as yoga and Pilates are what’s popular.

In the future, they hope to add more gym spaces on campus. With the closing of Withrow Court, they opened three mini rec/workout facilities on campus that have become popular but only have six basketball courts for recreation (three at the rec center, three at Phillips).

The rec center is open from 6 a.m.-11 p.m. For questions about the 25th anniversary celebration, contact Beth Keith, associate director of customer and facility services, at or 513-529-8157.