If you’ve been by Gonzaga’s Rudolf Fitness Center (RFC) lately, you may have noticed a new face on the professional staff. Jorden Upton is the newest addition to the RFC team as an assistant director. He works alongside Jose Hernandez, the RFC’s director, Shelly Radtke, the associate director, and Tyler Seth and Robin Thompson, who are also assistant directors.
“I chose this position because it related well with my background and I enjoy the population,” Upton said in an email. “Higher education is where I feel the most comfortable and I love the energy.”
Having been at GU for nearly two months, Upton has gotten a feel for the type of people that are present on campus, and he said he enjoys the environment created by the students.
“[I like] the family atmosphere and the values GU teaches the students coming through,” Upton said.
The RFC handles a large number of tasks, between managing intramurals, fitness classes, aquatics and equipment rentals, as well as reservations for its many fitness rooms and Mulligan Field. Upton helps oversee these things as assistant director.
Before coming to GU, Upton had varied experiences in the field of therapy and physical education. He worked as a track and field coach at Mead High School, an athletic performance coach at Eastern Washington University and a physical education specialist at The Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations.
At EWU, he implemented strength training programs for football, men’s basketball, track & field, men’s tennis and ROTC.
Upton grew up in Kennewick, Washington. He went to Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana, for his undergrad, where he played college football. He went on to receive his master’s at Liberty University in Virginia. Both of his degrees are in health and human performance, which prepared him for his current job at GU.
Upton said his role is to ‘encourage health and wellness’ by working with his team. They strive to provide important programming to not only GU students but all who visit the RFC.
“I oversee and manage the daily operations of the RFC,” Upton said. “[I] supervise fitness center employees and provide information to fitness center users in the areas of fitness, aquatics, and intramurals.”
Upton is a certified strength and conditioning specialist. With the help of his team, he said he feels confident about what he can bring to the table.
“My experience makes me comfortable answering any fitness question our patrons may have,” he said. “I also feel confident with the help of the team, designing and implementing new fitness classes and challenges to improve the experience of our patrons.”
The RFC prioritizes a team atmosphere amongst its employees, and Upton said they made him feel comfortable in his new position.
“I love it,” he said. “Everyone was super welcoming from the start and they have been helping me through the onboarding process.”
It takes a large group to coordinate all the hard work that goes into making the RFC as welcoming as it can be, but Upton said the teamwork in the RFC is extremely fluid.
“Communication is great through all levels, and our student employees bring so much energy to the workplace,” Upton said.
The RFC employs a large number of students every year, through jobs as intramural referees, fitness instructors, customer service or lifeguards within the gym itself. Upton’s favorite part about his job is working with the student leaders employed by the fitness center.
“They are a group of 15 rock stars [and they] bring so much passion to the RFC,” Upton said. “They teach me something new every day and consistently amaze me.”
Joshua Benson is a senior at GU and an RFC student supervisor. He has worked there all four years, first as a referee for three years. Benson works directly with Jorden as part of the RFC team.
“Jorden’s just an all-around great guy. He really fits in with the culture,” Benson said. “I mean, he’s just really genuine, really soft-spoken, which is nice to have for somebody who’s kind of in that position.”
Benson said he believes Upton’s past work experiences say a lot about who he is as a person, as he has always worked in a team or helping others. He added that his attitude makes him able to connect with people.
“I thought it was really interesting because it kind of reflects how he’s really down to earth,” Benson said. “He can really connect with like anybody and that sort of sense.”
In terms of getting the hang of working at the RFC, Upton is already working to build relationships with students and employees.
“[He’s] team player, like he’s already on intramural teams with all of us,” Benson said. “He really likes to go out of his way to meet new people. Which is really awesome.”
The interview process included students like Benson from the RFC student supervising staff.
“I think he’s a great addition to the team, personally,” Benson said. “He was one of three people we interviewed and he really stood out just because of who he is as a person and his background.”