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MSSU hosts inaugural Rod Anderson Sports & Recreation Management Symposium

By: Olivia Ryckman | Published: March 18, 2024 | Categories: Press Release
MSSU hosts inaugural Rod Anderson Sports & Recreation Management Symposium

The recently established Sports & Recreation Management department kicked off the first Rod Anderson Sports & Recreation Management Symposium on Feb. 23, 2024, in Corley Auditorium.

The goal of the event is to bring global and local expertise in the sports industry to Missouri Southern students and help them understand the power of sports in the region. The symposium will also enhance the sports and recreation management program and provide the Joplin area with a unique educational experience.

Rod Anderson ‘76—former chair of MSSU Board of Governers, 2021 Lion-Hearted Award recipient, and consistent supporter of Missouri Southern—helped bring the symposium to fruition. A Monett native, Anderson’s long-standing interest in the Sports and Recreation Managment program led to its successful launch.

“I am absolutely honored that Rod is willing to support this event,” said Dr. Zachary Beldon, director of the Sport & Recreation Management program and event organizer. "His dedication to the symposium illustrates the commitment from the community to better prepare future sport and recreational employees in this region.”

This year’s symposium theme explored the power of sports within communities. Speakers included Jared Bruggeman, current director of Joplin Sports Authority, who discussed rebranding Joplin Sports Authority; and Dr. Jay Coakley, author of “Sports in Society,” who offered a powerful discussion on how sports have become rallying points for communities and the power sports can wield upon their citizens. The discussions were followed by a Q&A session.

Attendees ranged from sports and recreation management students, students from other majors, campus leadership, and community members.

“The symposium went extremely well,” said Beldon. “The Q&A brought forth thought-provoking questions that helped further the discussion.”

Students like sophomore sports and recreation management major Calvin Clark found the symposium knowledgeable and informative, even gaining some tools to help him in his education and career.

“While attending MSSU, I run my own tutoring business,” said Clark. “I plan to use some of the things Dr. Coakley suggested into my curriculum so that I can make certain subjects more attainable for kids.”

Clark also learned that invoking change can be done through one simple act.

“Just ask,” he said. “If you feel that something can be improved or modified, just ask people what they think should be changed, and soon you will have multiple people improving the community.”

For next year’s symposium, Beldon hopes to incorporate student research.

“We plan to add student research sessions,” said Beldon. “I am really looking forward to seeing what the students can present for the following year.”