Wisconsin Intramural-Recreational Sports Association

John Sweeney
Director, Recreational Sports
Marquette University

Congratulations, John Sweeney, on Receiving

the Region III Award of Merit!


From your WIRSA Family, CONGRATULATIONS JOHN on receiving the Region III Award of Merit! John recently received this award at the Region III Virtual Member Network Meeting from John Lentz and the below is John L.'s recognition speech from the meeting. 

"Hello Region III colleagues and guests!

I am here today to recognize an individual as an outstanding contributor to Region III, NIRSA and his/her state. I would first like to recognize the Region III Award of Merit Committee members: Terese Kennedy from UW-Whitewater, Dave DeAngelo of The Ohio State University, Lisa Shea of the University of Michigan, and last year’s honoree Jess Gentry of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. We are honoring today an individual who has spent 45 years in the recreational sports profession and although his roots are from San Francisco, and he has degrees from the College of Idaho and Texas Tech University, he has spent his entire recreational sports career in Region III. As a member of the original Marquette Three Muskateers he began his career in intramural sports under the tutelage of Larry Preo. Three very respected professionals all began their careers within a year at Marquette – John Sweeney, Howard Taylor and Rin Seibert. Of course by now many of you probably realize I’m talking about John Sweeney.

A brief summary of John’s career shows that he attended his first NIRSA conference in San Diego in 1976 when a grad student at Texas Tech. Did you know that the NIRSA Conference registration rate for students was $35 in 1976? Oh well – ours was free this year.

He began his career at Marquette in 1978 where he advanced through intramural sports coordinating, assistant director of facilities and operations, and associate director of recreational sports. In 1988 he became the director of Athletics & Recreation for the Milwaukee Athletic Club a post he held until 1994. During those years at the athletic club he never left NIRSA and in-fact was a regular member of the NIRSA Conference Program Committee. He actually has only missed two conferences in all of his 45 year professional life.  Man you’re old. In 1994 he made the move back to campus recreation as associate director at Northern Illinois University. He was promoted in 1997 to the director’s position, one that he held for 10 years. All of those 10 years John commuted back and forth from DeKalb to his home in Milwaukee. In 2007 he returned to his beloved Marquette to take the post of director of Recreational Sports, one he has held ever since.

John is a graduate of the NIRSA Executive Institute and has a Management Certificate from Marquette. He is a former Wisconsin State Director, hosted and coordinated state workshops in Wisconsin and Illinois as well as the MAC Director’s Conference and was a member of the host committee for NIRSA in Milwaukee in 1999. He will be co-hosting NIRSA with Terese Kennedy next year. He has made nearly 20 professional presentations and has been published four times. Although recreational sports has been his career his true calling has always been soccer and he has combined the two seamlessly. Along with Howard Taylor they coordinated the first NIRSA Soccer Officiating Pre-Conference Workshop at the 1990 St. Louis conference. He continues to sit on the NIRSA Soccer Committee since 1989 and even spent a year as the Executive Director of the Milwaukee Kickers, one of the largest youth soccer programs in the country, overseeing a $3M + budget with full-time and part-time staff and facilities. He is a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association. John continues to referee soccer and basketball at various levels and has been a long time coordinator of various and significant state and regional events.

However, John’s greatest strength is in the relationships and mentoring that he has provided over these many years. He has consistently encouraged staff and students alike to serve in the community and professional associations in any number of roles.  John’s good friend Rin Seibert said it best, John brightens any room he walks into and is able to provide keen perspective on so many levels. John has been married to his wife Barbara for 36 years. He has four children Mike, Danny, Thomas, and daughter Maggie along with three grandchildren who keep them busy.

I am very honored to present the Region III Award of Merit to John Sweeney.

John Play-on!"

The 2020 NIRSA Region III Virtual Member Network Meeting was held on Zoom on April 30, 2020.