The motto of the Office of Physical Education, Recreation and Sports (OPERS) is “there’s something for everyone,” and that’s exactly what the biggest and baddest sports/recreation/wellness/fitness organization on UCSC’s campus seeks to provide.
The university administration takes student health and fitness seriously, and budgets millions of dollars for OPERS to ensure that Slugs have top-notch equipment, programs and facilities. Their philosophy: A fit campus is a productive campus.
Even though it’s far from an athletic powerhouse, UCSC does have men’s and women’s NCAA Division III teams in soccer, cross-country, basketball, swimming and diving, volleyball, and track and field. The entire athletic program almost disappeared in 2016, when a mounting debt in the athletic program forced students to approve an increase in tuition that would maintain Slug athletics. After impassioned debate and a long period of doubt and uncertainty, students eventually approved a substantial increase to their annual tuition—$270 a year—to maintain the existence of the athletic program. The fact that students voted to take a $1,000 hit over the course of four years to save competitive sports was largely unexpected. The banana slug mascot was originally adopted as a way for students to separate themselves from the competitive natures of other universities. It was an anti-mascot—a constant reminder for students to chill out and slow down. Lately, though, there’s been an effort from UCSC’s administration and its students to put Slug athletics on the map and step up competition. And because they are paying for it now, students expect a lot from OPERS.
The most impressive go-to-can’t-miss recreation hub on campus is the OPERS East Field House. Located along Hagar Drive below Cowell College, the East Field House encompasses the Wellness Center, East Gym, Pool, Easy Gym, Martial Arts Center, Dance Studio, Racquetball Courts, East Tennis Courts, Activity Room, and East Fields.
Overlooking Monterey Bay, the top floor of the Wellness Center is the place on campus to work out. The 6,500-square-foot workout space houses the majority of the cardio and weight training equipment on campus, and gets jam packed with students all day. With more than 50 treadmills and elliptical machines, finding a piece of equipment here isn’t too difficult, but just to be sure you’ll have a treadmill when you need it, there’s a nifty application that posts “facility counts” every half hour for all OPERS facilities. INFO: opers.ucsc.edu/facilities/LiveFacilityCounts.html.