A Long Goodbye to the NIRSA Board and to the NIRSA Membership
A Present-, Past-, and Future-Tense Perspective
I am Henry Edsel Buchanan, but I'm better known to my friends as "Edsel." Whether any of you might be interested or not, Edsel was born in Floydada, Texas (close to Amarillo) on August 6, 1928. Some of you may have had the privilege of knowing and meeting my wife of 50 years, Anita Doris Mixon Buchanan. I lost Anita to Alzheimer's disease in February of 2000.
I am a graduate of Amarillo, Texas High School (1946) where I participated in three sports; namely, football, wrestling, and track and field. As a member of the Amarillo Maverick Boys Club (Boys Clubs of America affiliate), I participated in the club's gymnastics program. I received exceptional training in tumbling and trampolining. As a result of the gymnastics training that I had received from the Club director (Ralph Dykeman) and trampoline coach, Nard Cazzell, I received a gymnastics scholarship from the University of Michigan in 1948. The highlight of my gymnastic experiences at Michigan was related to the trampoline event, which after many years, has become an official Olympic sport for the past two Olympics. As a gymnast at Michigan, I was fortunate enough to win three consecutive NCAA trampoline championships (1950-1951-1952). Although the Boys Club in Amarillo eventually had several collegiate gymnastics performers win a national trampoline championship, I was fortunate to be the only trampolinist to this date to win three (3) consecutive NCAA titles. My coaches were exceptional : Newt Loken at Michigan and Nard Cazzell back home in Texas. Newt Loken is 84 now and still resides in Ann Arbor with his lovely wife, Dorothy. Nard Cazzell is deceased.
In the 1950's, Cheerleaders at Michigan were primarily gymnasts. They did a lot of on the field tumbling and pyramid building. I was a cheerleader at Michigan over my five years as a student and experienced the thrill of being a cheerleader at a Rose Bowl game which Michigan won against the University of Southern California 13 to 6.
As a student at Michigan (January 1948 through February 1953), I completed academic work for the Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees. Anita and I were married in the summer (July 7, 1950) before my senior year of 1950-51. Anita was an exceptional and supportive wife and a great mother for our three children (Steven, Stanley, Stella). We were just a few days short of being married for 50 years before I lost Anita to Alzheimers in February of 2000.
While at Michigan and upon the advice of my brother, John, who was a career U.S. Navy submariner (20-plus years) and a WW2/Pearl Harbor veteran, I completed the U.S. Army ROTC infantry officer training program and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. I also attended selected leadership training at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. On April 1, 1953, I reported to Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri for active duty within the Corps of Engineers combat training programs. I was there during the Korean War and achieved the military rank of 1st Lt. I was released from active duty on April 1, 1955.
While at Michigan, I was a student employee within the Intramural/Recreational program throughout my student years. I had the honor of studying under and working for Dr. Elmer D. Mitchell, Earl Riskey, Rod Grambeau, Cliff Keen, and several other faculty and Athletic Department personnel. Little did I know at that time of the significant pioneering contributions of these individuals. Dr. Mitchell is historically known as "the Father of Intramurals. Earl Riskey conceived the game of racquetball and introduced it nationally. I was an avid handball and racquetball player during my days at Michigan. My studies and work within the Michigan Intramural Sports environment were direct factors in my securing eventual employment at Texas Tech University following my active duty release from the military.
In 1954, my post-military employment was in my home town of Amarillo where I was hired as a physical education teacher for grades 7-8-9. I had also secured a position at Texas Tech; however, the Tech position was budgeted for one year later. Following the single year at Horace Mann Junior High School in Amarillo, I became the first full-time Intramural/Campus Recreation director at Texas Tech in 1955 when there were approximately 10,000 students at Tech. During my 3rd year at Texas Tech, I hired Willard Holsberry as Assistant Director. Will and I and Paul Gunsten each served the National Intramural Association as volunteer NIA/NIRSA Executive Directors during the early growth years of the NIA.
I was the campus recreation director at Texas Tech for 25 years. Texas Tech had then grown to 25,000 students Will left Tech to accept a directorship at Oregon State and I left Tech to pursue a doctorate degree. I earned a doctorate from the University of Houston with major interests in the administration of HPERD. Following two years at the University of North Texas, I was hired in 1979 by the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) as the chair of the academic program for Recreation and Leisure Studies. Two of my colleagues at UNO were Dr. Richard Flynn (Director of the School of HPERD), who hired me, and Sid Gonsoulin, the UNO director of campus recreation at that time. Dr. Flynn, now President at Springfield College, was our first general session speaker at this conference. Sid is now an administrative executive at the University of Southern Mississippi.
In 1992, I retired so that I could care full-time for my wife, Anita. Anita's progression with Alzheimer's disease required her placement in a nursing home in 1995. Anita died from Alzheimer's disease in the year 2000.
I attended my first National Intramural Conference at Bowling Green State University in 1957. There were about 50 individuals registered. In the early years of our Association we met on campuses and stayed in dorms. Over a few years, membership and program growth was extensive and would eventually lead to conferences being held off campuses. In 1961 when I was continuing as Campus Recreation Director at Texas Tech, I became a Life Member of the then National Intramural Association (NIA). As stated previously, in those early formative years, Paul Gunsten, Will Holsberry, and I all served volunteer terms as NIA Executive Directors. We used a manual addressograph for our "high volume" mailings and membership lists. At the NIA New Orleans Annual Conference business meeting, the name of our association was debated extensively. Large colleges/universities considered the term "Intramural" as in the name NIA as too limiting in reference to the broad scope of many campus recreation programs. After several proposals were defeated, I proposed a change toThe National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association. The change, seconded by Will Holsberry, was adopted and it remains our Association name to this date.
As of 2005, a "lot of water so to speak" has flowed over the NIRSA dam. The presence of our national headquarters building, plus our Association Executive Director, complemented by our excellent headquarters personnel, along with our current BOD members is highly indicative of the positive growth which continues for our Association. The NIRSA headquarters personnel along with each of our individual BOD members constitute the "heart" of our Association!
This "heart" would only be a headquarters building if it were not for the exceptional outstanding presence of genuine care and professionalism exemplified throughout NIRSA as "our association." I believe that NIRSA truly cares for its members and its leadership as demonstrated over the years of our history. In behalf of all Board members (past and present) and our National Center staff here in Orlando, I THANK each and all for your extreme kindness! Your giving to me of the opportunity and privilege to serve NIRSA as your Past President's Representative has been an overwhelming and passionate emotional experience! I wish that I could have done better for you. I recognize that I am no longer the efficient capable administrator that I used to be. Please permit me to share two more address segments with you. First, a poem which I've slightly altered for this occasion.
When You Get "On"
When you get "on" and you've lived a long time
And the walk up the stairs is a mighty high climb,
Though your eyes are dimmer than what they were
And the page of a book has a misty blur,
Strange as the case may seem to be,
Then is the time you will clearly see.
You'll see yourself as you really are,
When you've lived a lot and you've traveled far,
When your strength gives out and your muscles tire
You'll see the folly of your ambition's desire;
You'll see what now that to your sight was hid,
The numberless trivial things you did.
Often the blindest are youthful eyes,
For age must come before a person grows wise,
And youth makes much of the mountain peaks,
And the strife for fame and the goal it seeks,
But age sits down with the setting sun
And smiles at the boastful deeds it has done.
You'll sigh for those friends who you turned aside
By your hasty word or your show of pride,
You'll laugh at medals that now you prize,
For you'll look at them through more clear eyes
You will see how little they really meant
For which so much of your strength was spent.
You'll now see as always how an old person sees,
That the waves die down with the fading breeze,
That the ceremonial pomps of life never last for long,
And those who were great sink back to the common throng,
Plus, you'll understand when the struggle ends,
That the finest gifts of all life are your friends!
In closing, I am reminded of the World War II expression by General Douglas MacArthur when he said (quote), "Old soldiers don't die, they just fade away." As I fade away, let me thank you, each and all, for this last exceptional opportunity to endeavor to serve with you as a colleague and to serve our caring and wonderful association members as your Past-President's Representative. Thank you, each and all for having the "Heart" of making it possible for me to serve!