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UW Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center Receives National Award

April 10, 2018
Large building with flower bed in front
UW’s Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center recently received the 2018 NIRSA-Leaders in Collegiate Recreation Outstanding Sports Facilities Award. (UW Photo)

After transferring from a different school, Hali Lewis says she has found a second home at the University of Wyoming’s Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center, saying the facility is where she and her friends feel the most comfortable.

And for good reason: UW’s iconic Half Acre, which underwent a major renovation before it was reopened in March 2016 as Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center, is now a national award-winning facility for the way it serves the UW community.

The Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center expansion and renovation project received a 2018 NIRSA Outstanding Sports Facilities Award at the recent NIRSA national conference in Denver. NIRSA -- formerly known as the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association -- recently dropped the acronym and is now NIRSA-Leaders in Collegiate Recreation.

“We are very excited for the Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center to be honored for its renovation and expansion project. UW was one of nine universities recognized this year by NIRSA for this award,” says Pat Moran, UW Campus Recreation director. “This project took great effort from many different individuals and departments on campus, and had tremendous support from UW students, the administration and the state of Wyoming.”

He says the project updated an iconic facility built in the 1920s, transforming it to a state-of-the-art recreation and wellness facility.

“The University of Wyoming made a significant commitment to recreation and wellness through this project, and the NIRSA award is a great recognition of this initiative,” Moran adds.

Half Acre is home to Campus Recreation, which includes club and intramural sports, open recreation, group fitness, aquatics, the Wellness Center and the Outdoor Program. The Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center hosts academic courses in areas such as theater and dance, and offers several programs targeting health, fitness and wellness.

woman using exercise machine with another woman behind her
UW personal trainer Abby Rose, left, of Cheyenne, watches over Ashley Smalstig, of Green River, in Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center. The facility was cited for offering a variety of programs to meet the needs of faculty, staff and students. (UW Photo)

All those features make the facility attractive to students, such as Lewis, a first-year higher education administration graduate student from Fort Collins, Colo.

“It's warm and inviting, and I feel as though everyone there is a big, happy family,” she says.

The dual features of physical fitness and health wellness are what draw Cheyenne’s Lauren Elliott, a senior in kinesiology and health promotion, to the facility.

"I come to the Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center to take a break from school and stress, and to meet my fitness goals, all while having fun,” she says. “There are so many different programs and opportunities in Half Acre, and I truly believe there is something here for everyone."

Kelby Borchgrevink, a Gillette senior in kinesiology, echoes those sentiments.

"I come to work out at Half Acre because it is a very welcoming and friendly environment,” Borchgrevink says. “They also have great intramural programming for a wide variety of sports.”

Each year at NIRSA’s annual Conference and Recreational Sports Expo, awards honor facilities that demonstrate excellence in a number of critical areas, including architectural design, functionality and how well the facility meets its intended purpose. Winning facilities exemplify the award-winning institution’s “commitment to providing the higher education experience desired and valued by students.”

"Winning facilities are considered a standard by which other collegiate recreational facilities should be measured, and from which others can benefit,” according to NIRSA.


NIRSA members support their learning and growth by fostering lifelong habits of well-being. Leadership, teamwork, dedication and respect are among the many skills exercised by inclusive competition, fitness and recreation. Since its founding in 1950, NIRSA membership has grown to include nearly 4,500 professionals, students and businesses, serving an estimated 8.1 million students nationwide.

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