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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Intramurals a big hit at Arizona

    Intramurals a big hit at Arizona

    Every year thousands of incoming freshmen arrive at Arizona fresh off senior years in high school that likely saw them at the height of their athletic prowess.

    For all but a select few, however, the reality is that those days have come to an abrupt end.

    Soon every open field and basketball court on campus is filled with these students trying to find a way to satisfy their athletic angst.

    The simple answer, however, lies in one of the UA’s largest programs: intramurals.

    With opportunities to compete in a variety sports from soccer to basketball to flag football to several others, intramurals have quenched the athletic thirst of Arizona students year after year.

    “”The importance, I’d say, of intramural sports is just to give students the opportunity to do something that involves sports,”” said Raylene Johns, interim graduate assistant for Arizona Intramurals. “”A lot of people played in high school but knew they didn’t want to or they couldn’t continue in college. So this allows them a chance to keep up that athletic desire.

    “”(Intramurals) also just gives a lot of students a break from all their classes.””

    Many students do indeed use intramurals as a release from the daily pressures of being a college student. With games scheduled throughout the week, usually in the evenings, the sports provide a pleasant study break for many.

    The organized athletic competitions are also used by many freshmen every year as a way to make friends and meet new people.

    For those out-of-staters who might still be finding their niche at the UA, they can sign up for a given sport as a “”free agent”” and will then be placed on a team looking for more players.

    “”(Arizona) is a huge campus and sometimes you just don’t know anyone to play with.”” Johns said. “”So that’s the idea behind (free agents).””

    Free agent play days are also available, where individuals meet new teammates through competition during designated days throughout the semester.

    While many students use the intramural sports as a way to transition to the college life, others simply use the games to spend time with friends and get some exercise.

    “”(Playing intramurals) is just a good way to get out, get some exercise and have a good time with friends,”” psychology graduate student Matthew Schoettle said. “”I play on a psych-grad student team and so it works as a great bonding experience.””

    With some of the participants simply looking for a good time in a relaxed atmosphere, there are times when the competition involved becomes an annoyance.

    Despite there being three levels which increase in difficulty, and therefore usually competitive drive, Schoettle said even in the lowest division, troubles can still arise.

    “”A lot of people take (intramurals) too seriously and it kind of kills the fun of it,”” Schoettle said. “”We usually play in the lowest division so we’re just out there messing around and having a good time.””

    For those who do crave a high level of competition, the higher two levels usually suit those needs.

    In select sports, the top team in the league can earn automatic bids to regional intramural competitions in which teams then compete against other schools, like ASU.

    Most frequently, basketball and flag football hold regional tournaments with opportunities to move onto tournaments at the national level, though no Arizona team has accomplished this recently.

    With the Arizona intramural department growing every year, more and more sports continue to be added. The newest additions are kickball and dodgeball, the latter of which made the cut for 2008 following the overwhelming success of the sport’s inaugural tournament last fall.

    Despite the additions, one thing will certainly remain constant, and that is the popularity of intramural basketball.

    Consistently carrying one of the program’s highest participation rates, the department chose to add a fall season in addition to the usual spring season in 2006.

    “”Basketball is definitely one of our top sports,”” Johns said. “”We added (the fall season) because people kept over-filling out spots in the spring.

    “”Now, typically all the spots are filled in the fall, so that’s really worked out well for us.””

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