Recreational Sports is proud to announce two new scholarship opportunities that are available to our student staff beginning in spring 2019. Thanks to our generous donors, we have established two more scholarship endowments; the Robert Childress Endowed Scholarship and the Susan and Mark Baletka Endowed Scholarship.
The first scholarship being added for next year is the Robert Childress Endowed Scholarship. Bob started as a UT student back in 1969 and then later became a RecSports employee, making his tenure here at UT over 47 years!
Bob ended up coming to The University of Texas because his childhood best friend, Bill Childs, talked him into it. He started his long-standing career at the University as an RA in the dorms, where he ran the intramural program. He went on to graduate school where he became a Graduate Assistant for the intramural program. After he graduated, one of the RecSports staff asked him if he wanted a job and his immediate answer was, “yes!”
Bob spent a large part of his career building the RecSports Intramural Sports Program. After some time, he approached RecSports about creating an alumni program to re-engage alumni and bring them back into the fold. This program would come to be named Friends of RecSports. Bob loved traveling throughout the state to interact with alumni and seeing the relationships that were rekindled, and stories that were shared whenever a group of alumni got together.
Bob was an integral part in the development of both the intramural program and Friends of RecSports programming, as well as being the namesake for the annual alumni golf tournament. He also knew how important RecSports programming was to the overall health and well-being of UT students.
Last year, after decades of loyal service, Bob retired. In honor of all of his contributions to RecSports throughout the years, several alumni donors have come together to contribute to an endowment that will benefit future generations of student employees. When asked how he feels about having a scholarship in his name, Bob said, “I really couldn’t ask for more, these students are amazing and deserve access to scholarship money. I will always be connected to this University.”
The second new scholarship to become available is the Susan and Mark Baletka Scholarship Endowment. This endowment will benefit current RecSports student employees. Mark is also a long-time supporter of Recreational Sports. He started at UT as a student in 1971 and shortly after was invited to play intramurals by some friends. From there, Mark became an intramural official and eventually went on to referee All-University finals for all major sports in one year. During his tenure as a RecSports student employee, Mark won multiple awards, including the Berry Whitaker Leadership Award and the Outstanding Official Award.
Becoming an intramural official ignited Mark’s passion for the RecSports profession and he decided to pursue his masters in recreation management. This decision took him to Ohio State for his graduate degree. After graduating, Mark obtained a position with the University of Illinois. From there, he worked in the recreation and facilities divisions at several major universities such as UCLA and Tulane, until he finally arrived back where he started, The University of Texas. He worked for UT for several years, both in facilities and outdoor recreation, until he left for the private sector in the 90’s.
When asked what his favorite thing about RecSports was, Mark replied, ”It was my niche and somewhere that I felt at home. I enjoyed spending time with like-minded people.” This scholarship was also brought to fruition by Mark’s high school sweetheart and now wife, Susan. They are both happy to pay it forward and hopefully help some deserving students with a passion for sports and outdoor recreation.