43 years. Not many students or faculty members, almost none in fact, can say that they have been a involved with East Carolina University Campus Recreation & Wellness for that long. Jim Kirkland, professor for the English Department,got started when he started teaching at ECU in the fall of 1969. When the SRC opened in 1997 he was a charter member and has continued to be active ever since.
As well as teaching multiple classes, Kirkland was the assistant director of the University Writing Program and then the director of the program. During his involvement he spent time talking to other professors about the program, which aims to provide support for writers as well as instructors of writing. One of his favorite academic memories at ECU was being named Teacher Scholar in 2002, as he highly values teaching and research.
When Kirkland started using ECU’s rec facilities, it was at Christenbury Memorial Gym. He said that it wasn’t the best and, “the weight room was cramped.”
He came to the new SRC when it opened, and is credited with starting the popular noontime basketball game in 1972, which is played by ECU graduate assistants and staff. It was a daily game, and continues even to this day.
He says that he started the noon-time basketball game because there were very few faculty organizations, and wanted an outlet for exercise. It began as small two against two, or three against three games, but became a full court game once the word spread around campus.
His favorite memory of the rec center was playing against former ECU basketball player Blue Edwards who would later become the 21st pick in the 1st round of the 1989 NBA draft and play 10 years in the league. On a late afternoon Edwards came into the rec and played on the opposing team versus Kirkland.
It was just a pick-up game but it was, “pretty cool to play with an NBA player,” Kirkland said.
Along with basketball, Kirkland said that he has used multiple personal trainers in the past, as well as taken fitness classes at the SRC. He said that the facilities and staff here are great compared to others, mentioning a couple big schools that he had visited and expressing his disappointment in their facilities.
Kirkland still occasionally plays in the games today, and tries to use the rec center 5-6 days a week whether it’s for the basketball game or to use the weight room!