Meet Recreational Sports alumnus, Ben Prahl.

In what area did you work at Recreational Sports and what led you to work there?

I started with the Intramural Sports program when it was housed in Langton, before it moved into Dixon known as Sports and Special Programs!  I needed a job and working on campus made sense to me. I liked sports so I figured I would try becoming a referee. 

I started as a flag football and basketball referee and worked my way up through the ranks of the program including being a supervisor in Sports and Special Programs.  During my last year, I became the Sports and Special Programs Office Manager, which suited me well because I didn’t have to work as much in the evenings as I had recently gotten married.

Ben Prahl

Overall, I was eager to learn as much as I could about every aspect of the program because my ultimate goal was to obtain a Graduate Assistantship after graduating, which I did!

Ben Prahl

How did your time with Recreational Sports influence your life after you graduated

When I first started as a sports referee I was just happy to be around sports and get paid to do so.  I soon learned the possibilities surrounding the field of collegiate recreation – paid Graduate Assistantships, practically free schooling, full time jobs, etc. 

I decided that I wanted to pursue a Graduate Assistantship in Intramural Sports after graduating from OSU.  I was very fortunate to be offered a GA position at the University of Kansas, which is where my wife and I packed up and moved to not even one year in to our marriage.  We spent two years in Kansas and loved every second of it (well, mostly every second)!

After a short stint working at Home Depot and a couple of years at NIRSA (which was a great 2+ years!), I was fortunate to have the opportunity to get back into recreation via my current position.  I’m the Assistant Director of Intramural and Club Sports at Western Oregon University just up the road in Monmouth. 

I wouldn’t be where I am today without the experience of working for Recreational Sports.  I have to give a lot of the credit to the Graduate Assistant at the time who hired me as a flag football ref, Troy Snow.  He really got me excited for everything that recreation had to offer and motivated me to do what I needed to do in order to be successful in the field.  Working for Recreational Sports laid the foundation for where I am today as a professional. 

What are your favorite memories from working at Recreational Sports and Sports & Special Programs?

My fellow colleagues and I always had a good time but we made sure to get our work done too.  It was a good group of people/staff that made it easy to work together and made work fun.

I think back fondly on flag football on the grass/mud fields – losing balls, ball spotters, shoes, cones, and more, playing and refereeing basketball in Langton and the Women’s Building, “painting” soccer lines by spraying them with Round-Up my first term as a supervisor, and refereeing with Troy Snow and letting people know we were in charge!

If I were to give any advice to current students I would say that it may seem like time drags on in the moment but once you’re done and gone things change, life happens, and there typically isn’t any going back. Make the most of your opportunities today!  I graduated 8 years ago – it’s crazy to think back to my last few shifts with the department let alone to when I started as a flag football ref in the fall of 2003!

 Ben Prahl

Did you gain any transferable skills from your work in Recreational Sports to your careers, after leaving?

Everything I learned and experienced while working for Recreational Sports is transferable to what I’m doing today in some way, shape, or form.  A majority of what I initially learned about intramural sports and what I implement into the program I currently oversee came from my time at Dixon, either in the office, on the courts, out on the grass fields (yes, it was all grass back then!), or wherever else I had to go. 

I’ve also continued to officiate. I just finished my sixth year officiating high school basketball and my last game of the year was the 5A girls state championship game in Gill Coliseum.  Last fall was my first season of high school soccer and I’ve refereed more IM games than I care to count!

I am a strong proponent of the fact that my work experience with Recreational Sports was absolutely of equal value to what I learned in the classroom during my undergrad at OSU.  In all honestly, the two are intertwined – I couldn’t imagine one without the other!

Here’s what Ben’s former Recreational Sports colleagues remember about him:

Troy Snow, Operations Manager:

“One of the things I remember most about Ben was his constant willingness to improve and learn.  He then passed that knowledge on to others and which further enhanced our program.  Ben also had a tremendous work ethic during his time at Recreational Sports.  He was always willing to help out and support the program in any way that he could.  Ben definitely left a positive legacy in which others continued to strive to meet long after he had departed.”

Ben Prahl

Dave Fehring, Associate Director of Programs:

“When Intramural Sports moved from the College of Health and Human Sciences to Recreational Sports, I began working with Ben.  From the very beginning, he showed a strong interest and passion for the recreational sports field.  Over the next few years, Ben actively worked to improve his knowledge base and skill set by taking on new responsibilities and improving existing programs/processes. In addition, he was instrumental in providing leadership in the transition of moving sport clubs and intramural sports into the Sports and Special Programs model.  To that, I say thank you!  I believe Ben embodies the journey many students go through to become a successful professional in the field.  We are proud of his achievements and the legacy he left behind at OSU.  “

About Ben

Ben and his wife, Nichole, live in Monmouth with their two boys – Liam, 4, and Wyatt, 1 ½.  They are expecting baby boy #3 in late August/early September! 

When not at work or refereeing basketball, Ben spends as much time as he can with his family.  Nichole stays busy taking care of all of her boys, Ben included, while also volunteering her time as a leader with the local MOPS group and being in charge of the 3/4 year olds classroom at church. 

Liam will be starting preschool in the fall and loves all things airplanes fire and rescue, John Deere tractors, and construction.  Wyatt loves to copy everything his big brother does and is pretty much fearless with everything else – he will most likely be the reason for the first trip to the emergency room!