Marquette students ‘Rock the Rec’ before closure

Students+slide+down+the+blow+up+obstacle+course+during+Rock+the+Rec+on+Saturday+December+3%2C+2022.

Photo by Isabel Bonebrake

Students slide down the blow up obstacle course during Rock the Rec on Saturday December 3, 2022.

Director of Recreational Sports John Sweeney said nearly 700 Marquette students,“closed the Helfaer Tennis Stadium and Recreation Center with smashing plates, bumper cars and a relaxation room, including an oxygen bar Friday and Saturday night. 

The event was sponsored by student affairs and Late Night Marquette inside the Rec Center, featuring activities such as a rage room where participants were allowed to write anything they wanted on a plate before shattering it against the soon-to-be-removed racquetball floor.

The event comes before the official closing of the Rec Center Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. in lieu of the construction of the Wellness + Recreation facility, expected to be completed by the end of 2024. During the construction, students will be able to use a variety of interim recreation spaces available on campus.

The Rec Center was built in 1975, costing $2.4 million, in contrast to the $80 million expected price tag of the new facility.

The event contained a total of nine different activities, spanning both nights, with other activities like Christmas crafts, an inflatable obstacle course, log rolling, a life-sized Candyland and roller skating. In addition, Ian’s pizza was provided Friday night and a breakfast bar on Saturday. 

“I thought it was such a smart idea, just like right before finals too to let anger out, it was great, it was so fun,” Lily Boland, first-year in the College of Arts & Sciences, said. “I’ve always wanted to smash a plate.”

Boland, along with a few club volleyball teammates, wrote the name of their next opponent on the plate. Boland mentioned some more benefits of the plate smashing. 

“For me, it’s more nerves, because I haven’t taken finals yet as a college student. It was a very stressful week for me so I think that was much needed, now I feel more relaxed,” Boland said. 

Chris Briggs, assistant director for training and development in the Office of Residence Life, said he believes this event and its activities allow for a positive outlet for students during a busy time in the school year. 

“There’s so much going on and so much to get done and here’s a moment to take a break, do something you wouldn’t normally do … take a pause … It’s not often that you just get to put all your might into throwing something and breaking it,” Briggs said. 

Briggs mentioned taking a pause from everyday life to do things you normally wouldn’t do: “taking that little breather”.

“I fell a couple of times, but I got the hang of it and it was pretty fun,” Mandila Budhathoki, a first-year in the College of Health Sciences and first-time skater said. “Events like these are not only a stress reliever from school, but it’s also a good way to meet people because I definitely bumped into a couple of people, and I made some new friends.”

James Friel, associate director of Recreational Sports, spoke to the uniqueness of this event, mentioning an unexpectedly big turnout and hope for the future. 

“We wanted to bring everybody on campus in and give them a chance to do some crazy stuff in the Rec Center that we wouldn’t have normally done,” Friel said. “If anything, we’ve learned tonight that students wanna be here, students wanna get together, students want to do things like this, so this is a good sign and this is great moving forward.” 

While there are no further plans for events like this, or to bring these types of activities to the new Recreation Center, the affairs team believes this event to be a good opportunity for the inspiration of future events. 

“I think there’s an eagerness and a thirst across campus, whether it’s students or staff, to find more ways to bring everyone together and to continue to work together. I think that this is maybe the end of the Rec Center, but I think it’s the start of a lot of great collaboration and great opportunities to come together,” Briggs said.

With a focus on enjoying the rest of what’s left of the Rec Center, Sweeney believes this event was an opportunity for students to try out some activities they may not normally get to do. 

“I think it’s nice to go out, blow off some steam, do some fun stuff you don’t normally do. Take a big breath before you’re ready to hit the books again,” Sweeney said. “You’re always trying to find something to engage students, get ’em out of the residence hall, have some fun on campus, connect with friends and have some fun. Rock the Rec, last hoorah, let’s go nuts!”

In anticipation of the interim fitness spaces, Gabrielle Prehn, senior in the College of Health Sciences and building supervisor at Rec Sports, believes the event is a great way to say farewell to the Rec Center.

“It’s been such a staple of Marquette for such a long time, and so it’s just nice to have some closure to say bye to it before we enter into the new era of everything mixed together into one,” Prehn said. “The next two years are gonna be a weird transition time, and it’s especially weird working there … I love this place, I think it’s awesome.”

This story was written by Kevin Fitzpatrick. He can be reached at [email protected]