By Matt Holzapfel
SHAPE America honored Elon’s own Carol Smith with a distinguished award this week, the Recreation Professional of the Year Award. “I don’t do what I do to receive awards,” said Smith, an Associate Professor of Health and Human Performance at Elon. “Receiving awards actually makes me a little uncomfortable with the attention. I am a strong, strong introvert.”
Introvert or not, that does not discount all the hard work Professor Smith has put into the many organizations and activities she has devoted herself to, outside of being a college professor. “Receiving the nomination,” said Smith. “The recommendations and then the acknowledgment is humbling and moving.” According to SHAPE America’s website, there are several qualifications and requirements that make a person eligible to receive this award.
Among those qualifications are: the person must “serve as a positive role model epitomizing the values and desired outcomes of recreation” and “demonstrate enthusiasm for the recreation profession and a personal role in it”, just to name a few. The award also required that nominees submit two references along with a cover letter in order to be considered.
Professor Smith has a long list of recreational work and achievements that she has accrued over the years while working for several different organizations and companies. “I love the outdoors and being physically active,” said Smith when asked what inspired her to start doing this kind of work. “When I see the benefits of the natural world, and how so many students don’t have access or make the attempt to be outside, I want to reach them and make them understand the benefits of nature, physical movement, and sunshine. It improves the health of individuals, not just the physical, but the mental and emotional too.” Smith joined the American Association of Physical Activity and Recreation (AAPAR) in 1987, even seeing the transition of AAPAR into the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE). She served as the 2011-2012 Chair of the Council of Outdoor Adventure Education/Recreation and was on the Executive Board of the Council from 2008 to 2012 through AAPAR. She also facilitates events at Elon’s challenge course, working with participants of all ages, from adults to students to varsity athletes. Smith is also an advisor for Elon Outdoors, a part of Elon’s Campus Recreation program. “I come from a family of teachers, and I grew up believing I could make a difference through teaching,” said Smith. “I love working with students and believe that I develop meaningful relations with them through adventure based learning.”