Score! UC Merced Opens New Recreation Center, Launches Sports and Yosemite Leadership Programs

MERCED - Students at the state's newest UC campus today will unveil the new Joseph Edward Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center as the university also officially kicks off its sports program and begins its Yosemite Leadership Program by opening the Wilderness Desk inside the center.

The Competitive Sports Committee, made up of students, faculty, staff and community members, met this fall to determine which sports students are most interested in. The UC Merced Golden Bobcats want to start with baseball, men's soccer and aquatics (swimming & water polo), with women's soccer and volleyball not far behind.

"Everyone at UC Merced is eager to cheer our students to victory on the field of competition," said David Dunham, Director of Campus Recreation and Athletics. "Giving them a chance to succeed in athletics helps create a balanced college experience and teach skills and habits that they can apply for the rest of their lives."

The teams will compete against other universities' clubs, including any of the UC sister campuses, as well as many of the CSU schools.

Student athletes and anyone else on campus who wants to get in shape or stay fit will be able to start using the Recreation and Wellness Center starting today. Membership is only open to the campus community - faculty, students and staff - but the public will be welcome to attend a variety of educational forums and events that will be held in the new center.

The center features an NCAA-sized basketball court, workout facilities, room for performances, wellness and fitness education and the Rajender Reddy Student Health Center, which opens in early December after finishing touches are put on the facility.

The center will also house the Wilderness Desk, part of a one-of-a-kind partnership between a university and national parks. The Wilderness Desk will be staffed by uniformed rangers from Yosemite National Park and UC Merced students.

At the desk, supported by a $105,000 grant from the Yosemite Fund to Yosemite National Park, students can get information and view Webcams in Yosemite national park, get weather conditions and other updates, learn about wilderness safety, the environment and other topics, rent outdoors equipment, purchase park passes and find out about the opportunities offered through the Yosemite Leadership Program.

The YLP is a one-of-a-kind partnership between the parks and UC Merced that teaches students in and out of the classroom about ecology, the environment, resource management and more, and trains them to be ethical, innovative leaders in the future.

"These programs and the new recreation center demonstrate UC Merced's commitment to the health and well-being of the campus community and the world around it," said Jane Lawrence, vice chancellor for student affairs. "They also show the vitality and uniqueness of this growing campus."

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