Dennis Corrington leaves a legacy of integrity and dedication at Recreational Sports.
Each year, more than 1.2 million active Aggies swipe their IDs and pass through turnstiles at the Texas A&M University Student Recreation Center. They come to work out, attend group fitness classes, climb the rock wall, play intramural sports or participate in sport clubs, rent equipment for an outdoor adventure, earn fitness and CPR certifications, or to clock in for a shift as one of the 1,100-plus student employees.
The state-of-the-art facilities and programs are impressive, but equally notable is the professional journey and achievements of the man who has helped shape the Department of Recreational Sports into one of the largest and best in the country: Dennis Corrington.
After 45 years at Texas A&M University, Corrington will retire on August 31. Senior Associate Director Rick Hall and Corrington will do crossover training for the month of August, and Hall will take his place as director on September 1.
A visionary inspiration to the rec sports family
Between 1926 and 1973, six people have worked as director of Recreational Sports at Texas A&M. In 1973, Dennis Corrington began his journey as director of intramural sports. Corrington has committed his life to providing students the best possible recreational experience while elevating the profession in the United States.
His influence and unparalleled leadership skills are what keep recreational sports staff in his employ for so long. His 36 employees have a combined 629 years of service; 12 of them have more than 20 years of service each.
“Dennis Corrington, in one word, is inspirational,” said Arranna Bennett, director of business services. “He has taught me about honesty―real honesty that he demonstrates daily. He stands his ground to make honest choices, and he inspires loyalty in everyone who follows him. He is a visionary; he sees potential and possibility and focuses on what can be. I am forever changed and made better because of Dennis Corrington’s influence on my life.”
“Dennis Corrington, in one word, is inspirational. He has taught me about honesty―real honesty that he demonstrates daily. He stands his ground to make honest choices, and he inspires loyalty in everyone who follows him. He is a visionary; he sees potential and possibility and focuses on what can be. I am forever changed and made better because of Dennis Corrington’s influence on my life.”
While Corrington has led the Department of Recreational Sports in an impressive array of achievements over the years, his most impactful legacy is the recreational sports family―staff and students―he has created and nurtures.
“Both the professional and student staff consider this a family,” said Mark Haven, director of aquatics and outdoor adventures. “Dennis serves as the patriarch who has set the example of how to lead while empowering us. His vision of quality facilities and healthy lifestyles for Texas A&M students has driven the standard across the nation. He keeps us on the forefront of innovation by expecting us to be the experts, and trusting us to make his vision a reality.”
Mutual respect and humility
Tom Reber, associate vice president for student affairs, exemplifies the positive influence that Corrington has on his employees. Reber began working with Corrington in recreational sports at Texas A&M in 1982. Twenty-two years later (in 2004), an interim assistant vice president’s position opened in the Office of the Vice President for the Division of Student Affairs (OVPSA), and Corrington agreed to allow Reber fill it until the university could identify the best candidate.
“When I agreed to help out with that position, I thought it would be temporary,” said Reber. “I assumed I would fill in where I was needed and then go back. I never thought I would leave recreational sports. So when they offered me this position, I could not say no. Dennis was my supervisor, so when I made the move to the OVPSA, our roles switched and I eventually became his supervisor. Before I agreed to supervise the Department of Recreational Sports, I told the vice president that I wanted Dennis Corrington’s approval. I accepted the job only after getting an OK from Dennis Corrington, the man who had been my supervisor for 22 years.
My story is proof of the respect that recreational sports employees have for Dennis, and it shows the deep bonds that form because of these work relationships. Only a man of great humility who cared more about my career than his own success would have reacted this way.”
From DeWare Field House to Vote Rec
In 1973, when Corrington became director of recreational sports, four full-time employees worked in the Charles DeWare Field House, which was located northwest of Kyle Field and later demolished to make room for construction of The Zone.
Today, the department employs 36 full-time staff members and is the largest student employer on campus. In addition to a 400,000-square-foot Student Recreation Center, which includes a world-class natatorium, outdoor adventures program (including indoor climbing facilities, trips, and clinics), the department manages the Penberthy Rec Sports Complex and the Omar Smith Instructional Tennis Center. It also collaborates with the Physical Education Activity Program to provide additional facilities and equipment to Aggies.
In February, Texas A&M students voted in favor of two new satellite recreational sports facilities on campus: one near Southside residence halls and the other near the engineering corridor.
“I’ve always wanted to provide an excellent work place and to ensure that the staff love what they are doing. I enjoy watching the evolution of this profession, and I am proud to have been a part of it. My success is a team success. We built this together, and I could not have done it on my own.”
We still have so much to do, says Corrington.
“Not only are we working toward developing more facility space for students, but we will continue to push wellness as a whole,” he said. “There are so many more ways to be healthy than just the physical sense. It is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward both a healthy and fulfilling life. It is so much more than just being free from illness or being athletic. It is a dynamic process of change and growth. Teaching students this concept is where we are heading.”
True to his active nature, Corrington is already looking for the next challenge, post-retirement. Until he finds it, he will spend more time with his wife Sue, their four children, and nine grandchildren. Plans for more golf and traveling to national parks with his family are also in the works.
“Dennis Corrington has always been a visionary and a leader in university and campus recreation and has accomplished so much over the last 45 years. He challenged us to create or adopt the best practices in campus recreation, and with his leadership we have become one of the top programs in the country. I hope that I can have half the impact that Dennis had on this department, and hope to continue his legacy for many years to come!”
Courtney Rhodes (Communications Specialist)
“Not only are we working toward developing more facility space for students, but we will continue to push wellness as a whole. There are many more ways to be healthy than in just the physical sense. It is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward both a healthy and fulfilling life. It is so much more than just being free from illness or being athletic. It is a dynamic process of change and growth. Teaching students this concept is where we are heading.”