About RecSports

From the outset, University founder Fr. Edward Sorin emphasized recreational activity when establishing Notre Dame in 1842.  In 1847 he turned his attention to constructing “the last word in recreational facilities”, with the intention of creating an environment conducive to “invigorating the body and recreating the mind.” 

Organized baseball first appeared on campus in 1865. The 1866-1868 rosters were headlined by one Adrian C. “Cap” Anson, who would eventually star for the Chicago White Stockings for twenty-one years. Anson is regarded as the first Major League superstar and was an original member of the Hall of Fame. The first recorded interhall basketball game, Carroll 11, Brownson 7, was played in 1897; the first track meet was held in 1899; and water polo was first played in the new natatorium in 1901. As the 20th century dawned, a new gymnasium replaced one lost in a devastating fire. Later, both interhall and club sports were actively promoted by Knute Rockne, also known for his accomplishments outside RecSports. Notre Dame established the Department of Physical Education in 1921 and placed recreational activity under its direction. This would remain in effect until 1966.

In 1968, the Department of Interhall/Intramural Athletics became the Department of Non-Varsity Athletics (NVA).  The new nomenclature reflected the growth of recreational activity outside intramural and club participation. In 1983, Recreational Services was added to NVA, which was designed to provide venues and encouragement to the growing women’s population on campus. RecServices offered 22 programs in its first year.

1991 marked Notre Dame’s sesquicentennial, and the NVA was renamed into what it is known as today: the Office of Recreational Sports (RecSports). Nationally, the recreational sports field was changing dramatically in philosophical and professional development.  Notre Dame’s RecSports Mission and Vision was developed and introduced in 2005: To serve the Notre Dame community by enhancing the mind, body, and spirit through recreational sports and was modified in 2023 to include that recreation has the power to enrich the collegiate experience, and RecSports strives to inspire opportunities for growth, fellowship, and building life-long habits that complement the development of mind, body, and spirit.

RecSports, in all its iterations, boasts a proud heritage of service to the Notre Dame family. Today, we are proud to offer thousands of people the opportunity to be their best, happiest, and most authentic selves. The future is promising as new programming, facilities, and professional staff will empower you, the Notre Dame community, with our student-centered approach to learning, relationship-building, and holistic development. RecSports plays a unique role by providing programs and services that enhance the Notre Dame experience and add value to your life.