Bringing Professionals Together One Kick at a Time
By: Madison Hunt ’20, business administration
Arriving at a new school, adjusting to your surroundings and getting through the discomfort of meeting new people is a feeling we have all faced. While it may be assumed only students face this feeling, new NC State faculty and staff feel these nerves and stress just the same. Wellness and Recreation provides a solution to this common feeling felt by many new students and faculty through intramural sports. What better way to immerse yourself in the Wolfpack community?
Michele Kurtz, interim director for Student Involvement, started at NC State in September 2018. Now, a little over a year later she can confidently say that she’s found her community. She attributes her confidence in this community by participating in intramural sports.
Working under the Division of Academic and Student Affairs (DASA) can be difficult connecting with so many individuals due to the many departments in the division. So when asked if she wanted to join the DASA soccer team, “DASA United,” by one of her co-workers it was a no brainer.
After quickly feeling welcomed with open arms by her colleagues, Kurtz soon realized that this team provided much more than just playing soccer. It is a team that encourages you to connect, get active and know one another outside of the office.
“You are just excited to be there. Everyone is welcomed at all skill levels,” said Kurtz. “It’s a good social opportunity, it’s getting exercise and we have a good time.”
The Big Game
Leading up to their game against Registration and Records, another faculty/staff team, they faced a major obstacle. The team was short a few players and were nervous that they would have to forfeit. Often the team plays against graduate students, but being able to play against another faculty/staff team was the ultimate matchup.
Kurtz remembered that feeling of unity when she was asked to join the DASA team and wanted to spread this feeling amongst other DASA employees. She reached out to Adam Bernot, an application developer for DASA Technology Services, knowing that he was a marathon runner. Even without the soccer experience, she sensed that his athletic ability could be beneficial for the team in a matchup like this.
The day had finally come to play Registration and Records and the team was ecstatic to be there and be able to play with enough players. “The Registration and Records team did have a much deeper bench than us though,” said Bernot. Even though DASA United was able to rally up enough players their roster was not as deep. The team felt the pressure of not being able to sub in as many players leaving them more exhausted, but they kept playing hard and stayed in the game.
With not much time left in the game, they were down by just one point. This might’ve been Bernot’s first game on the team, but he was a team player just like everyone else and proved it. With just seconds left, he raced to the other end of the field and scored the tying goal. “My buzzer-beater goal to tie the game was exciting for me and the team,” said Bernot. The game might have ended in a tie, but to the team, it felt like a win because they conquered adversity and did it together.
Being able to see their colleagues through another lens like sports allows for a well-rounded experience for employees. Having this team has allowed inclusion and teamwork in what is such a large division. Knowing that they can come together outside of the office and accomplish something is the perfect reminder that the same can be done in the office.
Kurtz and Bernot may not interact much on a day-to-day basis, but this team has provided them a new connection outside of the office and can count on seeing each other at least once a week during the fall to play soccer. Something that seems so simple like joining an intramural sports team can make a much bigger impact than expected. Kurtz was lucky to find this community she was looking for through soccer, providing her with a holistic approach to being an NC State employee.
“It’s nice to get to know people out of the office and on the field,” said Kurtz. “You see a lot of people’s character on the field when I see people being positive and creating a space for others. It validates and reminds us why we do what we do.”