Meet and Greet: Q & A with Director of Campus Recreation
By MATHIEU WETMORE
Mark Mermelstein joined the University of Mary Washington as director of Campus Recreation almost eight years ago. The UMW Community has greatly benefited from his dynamic experience ever since.
Mermelstein received his B.S. in Recreation and Park Management from Pennsylvania State University and his M.A. in Sport Science from the University of the Pacific. Mark has more than 11 years of experience in campus recreation programming, including six years as director of Recreational Sports at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
Q: Where are you from, Mark?
A: I grew up in Rockville, Maryland. I love the Washington Metro area, and Fredericksburg has become a part of that. It has a different feel, but I love this area. This is home to me.
Q: What sports did you play growing up?
A: From the time I was a kindergartner to when I was in college soccer was my passion. It still continues today. I also did some swimming and dabbled in all the other sports like young kids like to do.
Q: What is your favorite soccer team?
A: I don’t necessarily stick to one team, I just enjoy watching the games. In Europe, Chelsea FC has always been a favorite of mine. I went on a tour in the UK when I was coaching at St. Mary’s. Man City was our host, so I also like watching them because of how nice they were. Here in the states, I’m a huge D.C. United fan. Being a women’s soccer coach, I also really enjoy watching the Women’s National team
Q: Do you have a favorite athlete?
A: On the soccer side, Mia Hamm. She may even be my favorite athlete because of how she’s handled herself and what she’s meant to the sport. I’m also a big fan of the Olympics, so Dan Jansen is another one of my favorites. His story is full of dedication.
Q: What is your favorite sports movie?
A: I got a couple. On the comedy side, Bull Durham. It’s absolutely hilarious. Miracle on Ice, the story about the American hockey team, is probably one of my all time favorites, though. Americans beating the Russians was a big deal when I was a kid growing up.
Q: What is your favorite part about your job?
A: Interacting with students. The best part of my day is having the chance to speak with students, help them solve issues, talk about their interests, and help them gather some skills that will be of use to them later in life. As a coach at St. Mary’s, I loved building relationships with my players and their parents.
Q: How many students participate in club/IM sports?
A: Right now we have about 760 club student-athletes at UMW. Last year, we had 1,745 IM sports participants. Our programs have really grown exponentially over the past several years.
Q: How many different IM and club sports are offered here at UMW?
A: We offer 29 club sports, but only 23 are currently active. Depending on the season, we run 7-9 IM events a semester. That’s about 15 events per year. Every year is different depending on what the students are interested in and the feedback we get. We love feedback.
Q: Are you looking forward to anything new concerning campus recreation this year?
A: On the club side, we’re looking forward to the renovation of the Hanover grass rugby field. We plan on adding seating for spectators on the hill, so I am really excited for that. It’ll benefit any of the teams that will be looking to play on grass, as well as the spectators. We are also going to get new cardio equipment over this summer. We want every class that comes into their freshman year to experience new equipment.