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Badgers take to intramural sports in record numbers

December 7, 2022 By Ila Schrecker
Students in a gym play intramural basketball on four courts

The games tip off during an intramural basketball tournament hosted by Recreation & Wellbeing (Rec Well) at the Nicholas Recreation Center.  Rec Well hosts a variety of intramural sports for students, regardless of their athletic backgrounds. Photo: Taylor Wolfram

With school back in session, Badgers have found a new way to connect with friends and stay active: intramural sports.

This academic year, University Recreation & Wellbeing, also known as Rec Well, reports that the number of students signing up for intramural sports is at a record high. In the fall semester, 7,697 Badgers participated in some form of intramural sport. From soccer to volleyball to tennis, there’s something for everyone.

Intramural sports are open to all enrolled students and allow students to play alongside their friends, classmates and other fellow Badgers in various sports and activities throughout the year.

Bailey Kenney, assistant director of Intramural Sports, thinks this semester’s record participation has to do with coming together after the separation of the pandemic.

“[I think it’s about] building community after so many students spent the pandemic in a relatively isolated lifestyle,” Kenney says.

Two students jump for the ball in an intramural basketball game

Chase Monkemeyer (left) shoots a layup during the Rec Well basketball tournament. Photo: Taylor Wolfram

Seven students pose and cheer during a break in an intramural basketball game

Members of the team “Nameless” pose for a photo during the tournament. A record number of students came out for intramural sports this semester. Photo: Taylor Wolfram

Intramural sports allow students to get active and create a healthy competition with fellow Badgers. They also allow students to forge new friendships and connections.

“Intramural sports provide a great place for students to play at various levels,” Kenney says, “[Intramurals] fill the need to compete, a large void left in some college students’ lives as they move on from very competitive high school and club sports teams.”

Students compete for the ultimate prize: the coveted intramural sports championship T-shirts. There’s also no shortage of bragging rights.

This year, seven-on-seven soccer, indoor volleyball and five-on-five basketball tournaments are the three most popular sports. But not all intramural sports require students to be on the field: This year, Badgers are competing in Esports tournaments, trivia and fantasy football.

Two two-person teams in action during a teqball game

Tyler Bard kicks the ball during a teqball tournament at the Nicholas Recreation Center. Teqball, played on a curved table, combines elements of soccer and table tennis, where players hit a soccer ball back and forth with any part of their body except their hands. Photo: Colton Mansavage

Alexander John heads the teqball toward the other team.

Alexander John heads the teqball toward the other team. Photo: Colton Mansavage

Students are also a huge part of making intramural sports happen, helping to schedule the leagues and organize the timing of games. Some student leads also help schedule and train referees.

Intramural sports student lead Ellie Culver learned about the job in an email that asked if she enjoyed sports and wanted to meet more people. “I was one month into my freshman year, so I was eager to meet more people,” Culver says, “And I love sports!”

In her role, Culver enjoys connecting with fellow Badgers. “I interact with so many different people each shift, whether it be supervisors, officials or multiple participants… every game,” Culver says, “I love getting to meet all types of people every day.”

Sawm Djamali lunges to defend the goal during an inner-tube water polo game.

Sawm Djamali from the team “Astronauts in the Ocean” defends the goal during an inner-tube water polo tournament. Rec Well gives students opportunities to “play hard, get fit, and live well” through a variety of intramural sports. Photo: Taylor Wolfram

Students from rival inner-tube water polo teams swim towards the ball.

Students from rival inner-tube water polo teams swim towards the ball. Photo: Taylor Wolfram

In her student lead role, Culver has gained communication and leadership skills along with better time management and organization. “Additionally, the culture of the staff is fun, and I truly feel like I belong and people care about me,” she says.

According to Culver, it isn’t possible to choose a single benefit of intramural sports. “I think it’s a good way for people to continue competing in their favorite sports after high school. It’s also a great way to meet new people and make friends.”

Emily Kollmann, left, passes the ball to Brynne Breck during a floorball match.

Emily Kollmann, left, passes the ball to Brynne Breck during a floorball match. Photo: Colton Mansavage

A blurred action shot of two teams running down a floorball court

Zach Winner brings the ball down the court. Photo: Colton Mansavage

Amid college stress, too, intramurals can provide a much-needed outlet. “The participants are always having fun,” Culver says, “It’s very important for students to have a good outlet for stress or other things going on in their lives.”

To participate in intramurals, can apply for an Intramural Sports Pass. Find more information on the Rec Well website.