The Montag Center is abuzz with excitement and change. Campus Recreation has moved from the University Center into Montag and is actively renovating the large, open space into a center for student activity, engagement, imagination, community building and fun.
While Campus Recreation includes Willamette’s extensive menu of intramural and club sports, fitness classes and the Outdoor Program’s roughly 120 adventures per year, Bryan Schmidt, director of Campus Recreation, has a larger vision for Montag.
“What we want to do here is create a space where students feel welcomed and empowered to seek out whatever they want on campus, whether it's recreation related or anything else,” Schmidt says. “Campus Rec is whatever you want to do. What’s your passion?”
Whether it's finding a place to study, create a board game, watch TV or hatch the next plan to break a world record, Schmidt hopes Montag will be a place where students “can truly be themselves and accepted.”
By the end of the semester, the renovation should be complete, with new features including three big-screen TVs, a meditation and yoga room, cardio equipment, covered bicycle-parking and storage lockers for bike commuters. The walls and art will have a Bearcat-inspired facelift, and the Bike Shop will relocate to Montag.
Schmidt and the Campus Recreation staff are settling into one of Montag’s new glass-walled offices. If you’re worried about finding them, just ask someone at Montag’s new, large and centrally located Campus Recreation reception desk. It’s hard to miss. There, you can sign up for all of the activities, programs and adventures Schmidt and company offer.
A second new office provides even more options for campus users — although office isn’t the best description for the lounge-like room, complete with antique refrigerator and plush furniture, that Schmidt based on Google and Pixar’s informal creative spaces. Faculty and staff are welcome to join students in the space.
“You never know when the next iPhone idea is going to happen that revolutionizes something,” he says. “That can come from students, faculty and staff, and likely from a combination of them.”
Not everything is changing at Montag, as the laundry facilities, Montag Store, Outdoor Program and table games remain. The proximity to Bishop Wellness Center also makes perfect sense, Schmidt says, as both centers focus on student wellness and health.
Dania Chawkins ’19, Montag staff coordinator, knows the importance of having access to a space like Montag. Last year, Chawkins had a tough time adjusting to college until she joined club soccer.
“It kind of saved me. Students don’t realize that everyone else is lonely. I joined and it was the perfect way to meet people,” Chawkins says. “I want other people to be able to find that. We want to facilitate it so that it’s easier and more accessible.”
Schmidt encourages students, faculty and staff to stop by: “We want to be here as a place for people come with an idea and say, ‘I would like to do that,’ and we want to be able to take that idea and make it happen for them.”