Let that arrow fly, run that race, or move that rook. Whatever your preference, chances are Corporate Challenge has an event for you.
While known primarily as a sports competition, Corporate Challenge, now in its 33rd year in Southern Nevada, also has nonathletic events including chess and a trivia challenge. And the sports include a wide range of activities from horseshoes to a new event this year — Corporate Ninja.
Not a ninja? Doesn’t matter. “You can be amateurs, you can be experts. We don’t care,” said Kathy Lauckner, who has coordinated UNLV’s Corporate Challenge efforts since the university sponsored its first team in 1986. The point is participation.
“Whether you are trying to relive your glory days or you just want to come out and walk, there is something for you,” she said. The Mayor’s Walk, for instance, is a fun outing rather than a competition. Sometimes whole Rebel families — and pets — turn out for the walk.
UNLV’s Challenge History
The first year Lauckner organized a team it was for her colleagues at UNLV’s Harry Reid Center for Environmental Studies.
“We had many different projects going on at the center and many of us didn’t know each other that well,” said Lauckner who retired in 2016 as the center’s training coordinator after 32 years with the university. She now teaches part time in the School of Community Health Sciences. “I thought Corporate Challenge would be a good way to bring us together, and it worked. That’s when I expanded it to the whole university.”
Today, Team UNLV typically draws 200 to 250 participants. Coordinating so many people and so many events would not be possible, Lauckner said, without the essential help provided by the captains of UNLV’s various teams.
While Team UNLV’s strengths vary from year to year, the team has done well in events as diverse as poker, swimming, golf, and the trivia challenge.
But the competitions where the team really bleeds scarlet for their school is the blood drive. “That is my proudest accomplishment. It really contributes to the community,” she said.
While it’s fun to win medals, Lauckner said that’s not her top goal for Corporate Challenge.
“It builds camaraderie on campus,” she said. “It gives you the chance to meet people that you wouldn’t necessarily get to know otherwise. Sometimes you meet someone face-to-face that you have been talking with on the phone for years.
“Also, it gets us up and moving.”
Another benefit is that it gets UNLV’s name out in the community and gives employees the opportunity to talk to people in other companies about programs on campus they can tap into.
UNLV is in the division for companies with 2,000 or more employees. And who is the university’s biggest competitor?
“Zappos,” Lauckner said. “Everybody always is watching out for Zappos.”
For Lauckner, Corporate Challenge has become something of a family affair. Her alumna daughter, Kellilyn Monar, ’13 BA Art and BS Entertainment Engineering Design, once again is drawing upon the talents she honed at UNLV to design the T-shirt for Team UNLV, something she has done several times in the past.
While many UNLV employees participate on Team UNLV year after year, no one has stepped up to replace Lauckner.
“Maybe that’s because they think I don’t want to be replaced,” she said. “But the truth is, I would welcome the chance to train someone.”
Lauckner’s involvement in Corporate Challenge goes far beyond coordinating the university’s participation.
There are the events such as bocce ball, swimming, and the Mayor’s Walk that she has signed up for and then — because she can’t stand to see Team UNLV forfeit an event when a team member fails to show up — there are the events in which she finds herself participating at the last minute.
“Over the years I have participated in all but archery, fencing, and shooting,” she said.
One memorable moment came when she stepped onto the basketball court and found herself looking up at her opponent — former UNLV basketball star Freddie Banks, one of the top shooters in Runnin’ Rebel history. By then he was working for a local company.
She gulped. She played. She made lasting memories. So will you.