Starting Friday January 17, Clarks Summit University held the first of three track meets called Run at the Rec. The events are official Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) track meets for high school students who compete in winter track. The meets are held in the Recreation Center on the Clarks Summit campus.
Frank Judson, CSU’s vice president of student services at CSU, says, “There is no other facility and event in NEPA like ours. Our event is so unique that teams travel from up to two hours away to attend one of these Friday night events.”
The event series not only benefits high school student-athletes; CSU students gain work experience and fundraising platforms. Sports Management students get hands-on opportunities to put their academic work into practice. The university’s NCAA Division III softball and baseball teams and the Student Leadership Council raise funds through registration and concession sales.
Mikaela Meaders is a three-sport CSU student-athlete who has been both a high school runner and a college-age worker at Run at the Rec. Meaders ran in this track meet two years in a row before coming to CSU as a student. She continued to be involved by working the meet for three years, going on her fourth this year. “I love coaching students,” says Meaders. “And the experience I get from coaching and working the track meet will help me in my future career.”
As a Sports Management major, Meaders completes a sports apprenticeship. In this role, students are required to serve in various roles in the athletic department including filming games, recording stats, helping as a ball girl/boy for volleyball and soccer games and running track meets such as Run at the Rec. These experiences provide hands-on experience to connect academics with practical skills to prepare for their future career.
The race director for Run at the Rec is a Clarks Summit University alumnus. Rob Ahrens is the founder and owner of Running Ahrens and the head coach of Marywood University’s track and field and cross country teams. He served as assistant coach and interim head coach for CSU’s cross country team in 2014 and has coached at the high-school level, including Mid-Valley, Elk Lake and Abington Heights. The award-winning coach has also won the Scranton Half Marathon, Hershey Half Marathon and Binghamton Bridge Run.
CSU is happy to utilize the Recreation Center to benefit this unique blend of students, alumni and young athletes through Run at the Rec. Community organizations also use the space for other team practices, tournaments and special events, while community members can become Recreation Center members. They receive access to the cardio room with treadmills, bikes and ellipticals; 1/9-mile running track; three full-size basketball and volleyball courts; weight room with Precor equipment. The facility also has a climbing wall, meeting rooms, free wifi and wheelchair access to both floors. CSU alumni can become a member for the discounted rate of $15 per individual or $30 per family, while the regular rates are $30 per individual and $60 per family. Individual day passes are available for $5. For more, about membership on the Recreation Center webpage.
By Alyssa Gawrys, Accelerated Counseling major