An abundance of sunshine made up for the slight chill in the air as AB Show attendees boarded the bus to University of Central Florida. Undeterred by the 7:30 am start time, the mix of tourists hailed from as far as Hawaii (5 hours behind) and Taipei (13 hours behind!) and was excited to see what Central Florida had to offer.
Associate director Sarah Hunt and her team met the bus with smiles as we divided into groups for our tour of the UCF Recreation and Wellness Center. They had their work cut out for them, covering 149,000 square feet of recreation space, as well as RWC Park, in just over two hours.
Included in the tour was a mixture of old (2002) and new (2013) program spaces, many of them hallmarks of the modern college rec center--a climbing tower, an expansive cardio floor, areas for both free weights and selectorized equipment, a jogging track, racquetball courts, group exercise spaces, a lap pool, an outdoor adventures center and six multipurpose courts.
Tour attendees found details to love even in these recreation staples, marveling over the touchscreen control system in one of the multipurpose rooms and taking note of the creative location of a set of TRX Suspension Trainers under a stairwell. Outside in the leisure pool, it was hard not to take note of the behemoth shade structure--shipped in from Saudi Arabia, where sun protection is big, almost as big as this shade. "Haven't lost it to a hurricane yet," commented Hunt.
Hunt also shared stories of the coexistence of coeds and alligators as the tour group headed to RWC Park, home to six synthetic turf fields, a disc golf course and a challenge course.
Despite all we had seen at UCF Rec, we weren't done yet. Our tour group boarded the bus once again to head across campus to CFE Arena, home to UCF's men's and women's basketball teams as well as volleyball, and host to various campus and community events.
The most noteworthy point on the CFE Arena tour came before attendees even entered the arena, where, on this beautiful mid-November morning, a winter wonderland was under construction. Crews were hard at work setting up for the weekend debut of Light Up UCF, one of the myriad non-athletic events that takes place at the arena. This annual display is open to the community from mid-November until mid-January and includes everything from a holiday market, Ferris wheel and other rides, even ice skating.
Inside, we passed through the lobby on our way to the court--one of three portable floors used at CFE Arena. Above us hung a new 14.5-feet by 17.5 feet scoreboard from Daktronics. After a quick stop to check out the club plaza, it was back out through the winter wonderland and onto the bus.
Now noon, attendees' appetites for recreation had been slaked; now they wanted lunch.