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Hello, my name is Diane Yee

New director of campus recreation wants more Roadrunners to get involved.

By Nathan Solheim

January 11, 2018

Diane YeeDiane Yee wants MSU Denver Roadrunners to … play.

As the University’s new director of campus recreation, Yee plans to amp up participation to increase health, spirit and camaraderie around the Auraria Campus.

Yee, who arrived at MSU Denver after serving as the director of athletics and recreation at The New School in New York, took some time out of her schedule to talk to the Early Bird about her position, what she’d like to accomplish and something called Spikeball.

What attracted you to this position here at MSU Denver?
This position pulls from all my collegiate recreation experience I’ve gained out east. While I have managed recreation departments before, in urban settings, within and alongside athletics, I’m most excited for the new opportunities it brings. This is the first campus I’ve worked at that has an academic concentration in sports and recreation. It’s also the first campus I’ve worked at that shares its space with other institutions. I’m looking forward to working with [Human Performance and Sport Department Chair] Ruth Ann Nyhus and my cohorts in athletics, the University of Colorado Denver and the Community College of Denver.

What do you love about Campus Recreation?
I love that it brings communities together. Often times, students only interact with others in their major. Shared interests in healthy living and friendly competition unite the campus and allows students, faculty and staff to interact as peers.

What does the next phase of Campus Recreation look like?
We’re going to use the student voice to expand our programming and minimize barriers to entry. For starters, we’re revamping intramural sports. The current model charges team fees and uses external resources. By using student officials and supervisors we not only create free participation, but also provide our students with leadership opportunities, life skills and a source of income.

Why should students get involved in Campus Recreation?
Other than the obvious benefits of physical well-being, there’s also mental fitness and stress relief. Students can also build on their soft skills such as leadership, teamwork and time management. It’s an excellent way to interact with faculty, staff and fellow students. I believe wholeheartedly that there’s more than just fun behind recreation.
MSU Denver students have automatic membership and that includes free access to the fitness center, fitness loft, group fitness classes, intramural sports leagues, leadership programs and equipment loans. It also includes affordable personal training, gear rental and outdoor adventures.

What ideas do you have to get students involved?
I think part of it is awareness. I don’t think all students know we exist. Our building is “camouflaged” – it’s not obvious the building adjacent to the Tivoli Quad is a recreation center. We are creating a street team this spring — student- employees who will go out into campus and promote our events, programs and services. They’ll also be at all the tabling events — Open Houses and more.
As a nontraditional, commuter school we are well aware that timing and time commitment are major factors to consider. We polled our students to get a better sense of their availability and the duration or programs that their schedules can sustain.

Why should employees get involved?
They can interact with students in a different light. It’s a great way to bond with their colleagues whether it’s playing on a volleyball team or working out after work. We offer spouse memberships too, which is a convenient way to blend home family with work family.

Have you always loved sports?
Yes, but I was not good at it. I was a late adaptor. I started in high school and girls playing softball and basketball generally had 10 years of experience on me. I was horrible, so I found my calling in team management. Staying involved with the teams and watching sports from a different light actually helped improve my athleticism.

Why did you want to come to Denver?
I visited five years ago and fell in love with the culture, people, activities and weather. It was a plan all along to move here. Colorado is a mecca for recreation and I knew it would be the right fit for my career.

What is something about you that people on campus don’t know yet?
I’m an ambassador for Spikeball and educate people on this wonderful sport and the community that Spikeball Inc. has amassed internationally. This video captured the essence of the 2017 national tournament. Since 2015, I have played in 15 tournaments around the United States, including New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and right here in Denver.

But what is Spikeball?
It’s a two-versus-two sport played around a spherical net, similar to a mini trampoline, and scored like beach volleyball where you serve to the other team and use a series of pass-set-attack to end the point. This highlight video from the 2016 national tournament is a perfect example of how the game can be played.

Find out more about Campus Recreation

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