Natatorium director encourages physical activity on campus

by BRITTNY STEGALL//Staff Writer

With a passion for people of all ages, one professor makes sure that everyone stays active, no matter their age.

Mike Harrison, director of the Natatorium and instructor in Physical Education at South Plains College, started teaching when he was 28 years old. He has now been teaching at colleges for 33 years. Harrison has taught at Frank Phillips College in Borger, Western Texas College in Snyder, and at SPC for 15 years.

“I decided to come to SPC because they had a swimming pool here,” said Harrison, “but most importantly, it got me closer to home.”

Harrison grew up in Lubbock, graduating from Monterey High School. Then he stayed close to home to attend Texas Tech University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science Degree. He then attended West Texas State, where he earned his Master of Science Degree. His plan was not to pursue Physical Education at first. He tried five different majors in college, and was a music major before he changed his major for the last time.

Oddly enough, Harrison never had a Physical Education class in school. Because of that, he was unsure if he could teach.

“I always enjoyed Physical Education, but I didn’t think I could teach since I didn’t have any experience,” said Harrison. “While I was at Tech, I made the diving team, and I switched my major to Physical Education.”

Harrison has been involved in Physical Education recreation with swimming pools since 1973.

“I was going to run the pool for Frank Philips College, and when I got there they had lost an instructor and they asked me if I wanted to teach,” recalls Harrison. “I’ve also been doing swimming lessons for the City pools since 1973.”

Harrison says that he tries to stay active in everything he does.

“In September, I got to play softball in the world championship at Las Vegas, which was exciting competing against teams from all over,” said Harrison. “I play intramural sports with college students here at SPC. I competed with Dancing with the Texans, and I just try to do all activities with students because it keeps you young.”

He also teaches swimming lessons to children in the summer, as well as water aerobics for college-age students and older people.

“I think this is the best job I could have,” said Harrison, “because I enjoy working with people of all ages.”

Harrison invites everyone to come to the Natatorium and swim or to join a class. He devotes his time and efforts to making sure that all who go there have an enjoyable time.

With each student he encounters, Harrison tries to set a specific thought in their minds.

“I try to instill in the students that Physical Education is an enjoyment, and it doesn’t have to be a pain,” says Harrison. “Anyone can make it fun while developing their skills and improving your physical fitness.”

Harrison shares one message with his students each semester.

“Always head for your desires, and if you love students and people you come across, get involved with the college,” Harrison said. “It will change your life.”

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