Two Virginia Tech students and one university staff member will be honored at the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) annual conference to be held April 13 to 16 in New Orleans.

The three to be honored--Ben Smith, Krista Landon, and Andrew Mertens--all work for Virginia Tech Recreational Sports.

Krista Landon, of Bend, Ore., a second-year graduate student  in educational psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and intramural sports graduate assistant, was recognized the William N. Wasson Student Leadership and Academic Award, which recognizes top undergraduate and graduate students who are participants of and/or employed by recreational sports departments across the country. The award gives NIRSA an opportunity to honor outstanding student leaders who are active participants, employees, or volunteers and their institutions.

“It’s exciting to know that out of the pool of applicants I was chosen for this award,” said Landon. “Not only does the Wasson award recognize my achievements within campus recreation, but it also recognizes my academic achievements.”

Ben Smith, intramural coordinator for Recreational Sports, was awarded the Horace Moody Award for Region II which is given to a NIRSA professional in the southeast region who has made significant contributions to student development through encouragement, support, and performance.

“My passion for student development outside of the college classroom is what led me to a career in the field of recreational sports,” said Smith, intramural sports coordinator and Virginia Tech Class of 2007 alumnus. “I am extremely honored to have even been nominated for this award.”

Andrew Mertens, of Bethesda, Md., a senior majoring in history in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and intramural sports supervisor, was selected as a NIRSA Foundation Scholarship Recipient out of more than 100 student applications submitted.  

Mertens received the foundation's Frederick R. Braden Scholarship for Social Justice in Recreational Sports Endowment which provides funding for scholarships for registration to the NIRSA Annual Conference and Recreational Sports Exposition for student or professional members who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, or intersexed (LGBTQI) and/or ally. Recipients encourage participation for all and actively work to provide an environment of inclusion for LGBTQI community members.

"Andrew has been a very valuable member of our intramural sports staff for a couple years now, and has served the membership of the University Sports Officials Association as both membership coordinator and current president,” said Smith.  “His work as an intramural sports official and supervisor has allowed our staff to reach out to all participants within our program to ensure full inclusion.”

Virginia Tech Recreational Sports has been a member of NIRSA since the 1960s. Previous William N. Wasson award winners from Virginia Tech include former intramural sports graduate assistants Ben Chuha, Class of 2006, and Ryan Stevens, Class of 2000.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.


Written by Hannah Wilson, of Danville, Va., a senior majoring in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.
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