Unless you’re standing at Dixon Recreation Center’s East Entry at 5:59 a.m., you likely won’t run into Elizabeth Nielsen in Recreational Sports.
Nielsen, a member of Recreational Sports for over 10 years, diligently visits Dixon Monday through Friday and is the first one through the East Entry doors each time. Nielsen’s mantra to keep her committed to working out is, “if it’s a workday, I’m here!”
After her cardio and weight work out, Nielsen showers and heads to work in the Valley Library. As an Archivist, Nielsen works in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center. Nielsen’s primary responsibility is overseeing the process of describing the materials received into the archives so they can be available to researchers.
While Nielsen handles documents that typically have to do with things related to Oregon and Corvallis, she isn’t a native Oregonian.
“I grew up in Texas and went to graduate school in California,” Nielsen said, and her role as an archivist wasn’t her original career path. “My undergraduate and graduate degrees are in geology and I was a geologist in my first career.”
Nielsen’s journey to becoming a member of Recreational Sports started over a decade ago, when her husband took a job at Oregon State University. Their family moved to Corvallis, and she eventually began working in her current position.
“I never played a sport but as a geologist I had lots of physical activity,” Nielsen said. “But it was about 10 years ago that I realized I needed to have a regular routine for exercise.”
One of the driving forces of this need to pursue a regular exercise regime was the transition that Nielsen made to having both her office and the Archives located in the Valley Library.
“For a year or so, I had work spaces in both Kerr and the Valley Library and walked between the Kerr basement and Valley 3rd floor many times a day,” Nielsen said. “In 2003, when the Archives moved into the library, it dawned on me, ‘I am never going to leave this building.’ So I made the decision to start coming [to Dixon].”
As a Recreational Sports member, Nielsen notes a lot of added benefits other than just the opportunity to exercise in a premier facility. She says sharing the space with colleagues and students is really enjoyable, as is building new relationships.
“There was a period when there was a group of women and we were all in the lower weight room at the same time and we got to know each other,” Nielsen said.
It’s the connection that Nielsen has made with Recreational Sports student employees that she mentions is the most fun, and while others might consider her commitment to walking into Dixon’s doors by 6:00 a.m. an astonishing accomplishment, Nielsen quickly points out the students who work that early in the morning are just as dedicated.
“They have to get here to open the building at least 15 minutes before me!”
While Nielsen experiences many benefits by arriving early to Recreational Sports like a great parking spot by Goss Stadium, a quiet Recreational Sports facility and first choice of exercise equipment, she states that there is an additional benefit to the early morning entry.
“You recognize that most of the time, the first person to say anything to me in the morning is the person at the desk. It’s nice to have somebody say good morning to me."