FAMU builds recreation from the bottom up

When Florida A&M University was established in 1887 there was no campus recreation, in fact there still wasn’t a recreation center until more than 50 years.

Hansel E. Tookes, the biggest advocate for campus recreation and the man for whom the FAMU campus recreation center was named after is the reason we have any type of recreation on this campus.

Tookes, with the help of current campus recreation director Robert Carroll, helped build campus recreation into the program we see today.

Tookes graduated from FAMU in 1942 and came back to the school in 1947 from the military.

Tookes was a jack-of-all-trades serving as a golf coach, football coach, athletic director and chairman of the health and physical education department.

His extensive involvement with the athletic and recreation departments is why the recreation center was named after him.

Carroll, also a graduate of FAMU has been at the university since 1982.

Carroll has been with the university for 30 years now and remembers when the campus recreation department “was in the darkness.”

When Carroll came back to FAMU in 1982, FAMU campus recreation consisted of a small weight room with a few dumbbells near the student activities building.

Over the years, Carroll, along with others have helped to build campus recreation into what it is today.

“We’re right up there with any reputable program at any other university,” said Carroll. “Our facilities are second to none.”

Carroll said that campus recreation has come a long way in the last 125 years and that he sees it becoming a national intramural sport powerhouse in the future.

“Short of Tookes, Bob Carroll is campus rec,” said dean Henry Kirby in an earlier interview.

Kirby is the associate vice president of student life and dean of students. He has been Carroll’s supervisor for the past 30 years.

George Heimbach, assistant director of programs for campus recreation, said that campus recreation has come a long way. He said that he was able to bring some structure and organization to campus recreation.

“We want to create a culture of health, fitness and recreation at FAMU,” said Heimbach.

The Hansel E. Tookes center is now a state of the art facility that represents FAMu campus recreation.

It is a multi-million dollar complex that houses all types of equipment. Campus recreation has more than 70 employees and offers more than 14 club sports.

The campus recreation center is a testament to how far the university has come and what is possible for FAMU in the future.