CENTERS at UAB hosts ERSL conference 2024.CENTERS at the University of Birmingham (UAB) hosted the annual 2024 Emerging Recreational Sports Leadership (ERSL) Conference in February 2024. This year’s theme, Against All Odds, celebrates and supports recreation professionals as they continue to perform and advance even amid a continuously evolving and challenging environment in higher education.

In 1992, the office of intramural sports at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale established the first ERSL Conference to encourage a strong future of leadership for minority students in the field of collegiate recreation. The goal of this and all ERSL Conferences is to provide minority students who are interested in careers in collegiate recreation with the tools and network connections needed to succeed in this dynamic field. With educational programming, opportunities for mentorship, and a platform for career networking, this unique conference empowers attendees with opportunities to hone skills and make connections that are the building blocks for meaningful careers in collegiate recreation.  

CENTERS sponsored donuts and coffee at 2024 ERSL

Over 500 professional staff, graduate assistants, and student leaders from throughout the southeast joined the CENTERS at UAB team for three days of career development opportunities, including pre-conference activities, educational sessions, and networking opportunities with formal and informal social events.   

Allison Martin, CENTERS at UAB’s Coordinator of Belonging and Engagement showed her enthusiasm for the event by stating, “Hosting ERSL at UAB was such a great experience. Not only did I get to build relationships myself, but I got to see my current students build relationships as well! It felt like a big Rec family reunion!” 

Maya Baker, CENTERS at UAB’s Coordinator of Membership and Guest Services reflected on the event “Being able to host and attend the ERSL Conference this year in Birmingham, AL gave me a new perspective and appreciation for this conference. This is my second ERSL and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed helping plan the conference as well as attending.” 

Seneca Wilson, Director at CENTERS at UAB speaks at 2024 ERSL conference.

The learning sessions covered a variety of career-advancing topics — from mock interviews conducted by CENTERS own Jo Prociuk to presentations on the changing landscape of recreational sports careers in the current economy.  And, of course, many of the most interesting connections were made during the informal networking and social gatherings where attendees could mix and mingle with professionals. 

Said Seneca Wilson, Director of UAB’s Recreation Department “Many of the conference attendees said that this was the best ERSL conference they have ever attended.  Seeing the relationships being built and the community in action made all the days of planning and hard work from the UAB team so rewarding.”