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Our Champions

Katy Rendinaro

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"Therapeutic recreation lets me do all of my hobbies, plus I get to help people."


There’s nothing unusual about a student saying she’s happy with her college choice. Katy, however, confesses to feeling “pure love” for SUNY Cortland.

Why pure love? One reason, says this senior, is her therapeutic recreation major, which uses recreational activities to help people with disabilities. This meant that many of the things Katy loved to do — ski, hike, horseback ride — were now not only fun, they also were therapies.

“It lets me do all of my hobbies,” she says, “plus I get to help people.”

During an internship at Cortland Regional Medical Center, Katy helped patients with rehabilitation activities that ranged from horticulture projects to a therapeutic drum circle. “That was super cool,” she says.

Once you decide on therapeutic recreation for a major, choosing Cortland is easy. We’re one of only three colleges in the nation with accreditation in all four of our recreation majors, and the therapeutic recreation program is especially strong.

But Katy’s major alone doesn’t explain “pure love.” Nope, the path to pure love goes through hoop dance. Hoop dance is dance with Hula Hoops. Katy had seen it at a music festival freshman year and was mesmerized.

So she recruited some friends, bought a bunch of duct tape and PVC pipe — custom-made hoops are the equipment of choice for dedicated hoop dancers — worked with Recreational Sports and just like that, Cortland had a Hoop Dance Club. They debuted at a “Taste of the World” celebration on campus.

Was it intimidating to launch her own club and introduce the campus to a whole new art form? “It was a little nerve-wracking,” Katy confesses. “But I was way more intimidated when I tried African Dance. I can’t shake like that.”