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Inspire Leadership: Trey Knight

by Kiera Przygoda

Trey Knight, outdoor rec coordinator

Trey Knight, outdoor recreation coordinator for RecSports, is continually leading the way on and off our campus. He was recently elected as chair of the American Canoe Association’s Safety, Education, and Instruction Council. Within this role, he will additionally serve on the ACA’s Board of Director’s as the Safety, Education & Instruction Director and is the Treasurer for the Board of Directors.

As the outdoor recreation coordinator for RecSports, Trey is in charge of educating students and inspiring new leaders through his management of the of the Outdoor Programs climbing wall (Vol Wall), the equipment rental center (Outdoor Center), and the bike shop in addition to the Outdoor Adventure Trip program. Every day he teaches students at the university different ways to use outdoor recreation to promote getting out and moving.

Trey attended part of his undergrad at Georgia Tech, studying mechanical engineering before transferring to Mercer University to pursue his passion for outdoor sports. He helped build the program at Mercer University as an undergraduate and then continued on to receive his master’s in Sport Administration at Georgia State University.

Within his career of outdoor recreation, Trey wanted to dive into a role that gave him an opportunity to teach and educate others in the realm of outdoor recreation. He came to the University of Tennessee to pursue that teaching component. “I wanted to focus more on the quality of the programming I was providing versus the number of people I was able to push through a program.”

Because of Trey’s passion for outdoor recreation, he is highly involved in the American Canoe Association (ACA). ACA is a paddlesports membership-based association that focuses on competition, membership, stewardship, and safety, education, and instruction. “The National Paddlesports Certification program is a partnership with staff and subject matter experts who write the curriculum so that people can be safe,” says Trey. “The curriculum has to be progressive and well thought out while including modern teaching theories and learning methodologies.” As a member of ACA, Trey serves as the chair of the board for the volunteer group of the Safety, Education, and Instruction Council. In his role as the Treasurer of the ACA Board of Directors, where he works with other directors to ensure the ACA, USA’s National Governing Body (NGB) for Olympic Paddlesports Competition can meets the many needs of the diverse membership base that ranges from Olympic athletes to youth programming teaching at-risk youth the benefits of paddlesports and an active lifestyle outdoors.

When asked about his leadership style, Trey simply responded with “helping people accomplish their goals.” He talked about “making sure everyone is working towards a common goal from the students working in the outdoor program to the volunteers all over the world in ACA, each person has their own individual goals.” Trey highlighted that people may have conflicting goals, so he tries to be a leader by rising above the differences that people have and aligning their individual goals with the goals of the organization.

Trey Knight has found the biggest lesson he has learned from being a leader is listening. “The things going on in college student’s life is extremely diverse and what seems to be visible on the surface, the problem is rarely that.” Trey watches, listens, and learns to gently pull information out and so he takes time to sit down with his students to understand what is going on in their life. He follows the rule, “You don’t want to treat the symptom, you want to treat the sickness.”

Trey Knight is a great example of how diverse and inclusive the educational field can be. His passion and drive for student’s education and his care for all students does not go unnoticed.  The University of Tennessee is lucky to have Trey Knight continually expanding the field of outdoor recreation education and knowledge on our campus.


Kiera Przygoda is a junior at the University of Tennessee majoring in Communication Studies. She is the Undergraduate Public Relations Intern for the Office of Communication and Marketing. She has a passion for writing and media and a love for Disney. Kiera is also a Student Assistant at SEC Network and VFL Films.