Intramurals keep students in game

The University plays host to an intramural sports conference through today.

Emily Kaiser

A student doesn’t have to be an all-star athlete to compete at the University.

While many students attend University collegiate sports games, others are active in their own leagues and clubs, which often reach levels of competition similar to the Division I teams, said Vinh Chung, intramural sports program manager.

In an effort to share ideas and compare intramural programs, the University hosted the 2005 Region V National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association Conference this week. The conference ends today.

Clint Hewitt, landscape architecture professor, spoke at the conference about including recreation in institutional master planning.

Funding recreation on campuses is critical, he said.

“The whole interest in wellness and fitness has raised a level of concern even on a college campus,” Hewitt said.

Approximately 120 professionals from Minnesota and four other states congregated to improve their intramural and recreational sports departments, Chung said.

At the University, approximately 15,000 to 20,000 students participate each year in 20 sports, Chung said.

The University has a nationally recognized campus recreation program, said James Turman, assistant vice provost for Student Affairs and department of recreational sports director.

“Over the last couple of decades, we have been a leader in professional development,” he said.

The programming allows students to continue playing sports they were active in during high school or try something new, Chung said.

“This program is important because it adds to the whole campus life and gives students other things to get their mind off of school,” he said.

Because of the high level of skill and time commitment needed to play on the University’s Division I sports teams, the intramural and club sports teams allow students to find the right amount of competition, Chung said.

Approximately 1,100 to 1,500 students participate in club sports, which are the more competitive and organized teams, he said.

“We have beginners who are introduced to new sports they didn’t get in high school up to the club level, where they are very close to Division I level and can still compete with other universities,” Chung said.

Nationally, fewer than 2 percent of students who play high school sports play on college varsity teams, Turman said.

Biomedical engineering senior and club soccer president Nick DeMeuse said the recreational sports options were a reason he came to the University.

“Sports were a big part of my life growing up and it provides an opportunity to stay active,” he said.

DeMeuse said he also participated in intramural soccer, volleyball and hockey.

Club sports and intramural teams allow students to play competitively, but still be students, DeMeuse said.

Nursing junior and club sport gymnastics president Kathy Rice said she participated in ultimate Frisbee as a first-year student and now focuses on the gymnastics team.

Rice said she wouldn’t have the opportunity to participate in gymnastics without a club team.

“The gymnastics team is really good and a huge time commitment,” she said. “Our team gives students the opportunity to compete in a sport at any skill level.”

First-year student Sami Fedel said she is on a co-ed soccer team, but because the games are on weekend evenings, team members don’t take it as seriously.

“The team kind of doesn’t exist anymore,” she said.