Tuesday, April 24

Do you want to play?


Jonathan Solichin

With more than 8,000 participants each year, intramural sports are a popular recreation option at UCLA. While sports range from the very strenuous, such as water polo, to the more lighthearted, such as kickball, all of these sports offer students a chance at victory and the coveted “Intramural Champion” T-shirt.

From fraternity or sorority and Office of Residential Life leagues to free agency and one-day tournaments, there are a variety of ways to participate in IM sports.

To join a league, team managers must sign up teams at the John Wooden Center, and then schedule games online. Free agents also have to sign up in person and then attend the Mandatory Free Agent Social on Oct. 8.

All league registration begins on Monday, the first day of the quarter, and ends on Oct. 8.
In addition to the IM Sports highlighted below, here are other ones you can sign up for:

“¢bull; Flag football
“¢bull; Soccer
“¢bull; Tennis
“¢bull; Volleyball
“¢bull; Dodgeball
“¢bull; Table tennis
“¢bull; Basketball
“¢bull; Softball
“¢bull; Water polo
“¢bull; Racquetball

Added just last year as a result of increased interest in IM sports, kickball has quickly become a popular offering for its combination of simplicity and nostalgia.

“I hadn’t played since like fifth or sixth grade, but I definitely remembered how to play,” said second-year psychology student Hayley Bowyer. “It really took me back.”

Because the game is less intensely physical, several teams competing in last year’s league decided to up the excitement by adding themes to each game.

“It’s not exactly the most active sport,” Bowyer said. “We all just decided it would be more fun if we had theme days ““ we had prom day, gangster day, lots of different ones.”

But although the competition remains lighthearted throughout the season, Bowyer said there is a notable change in intensity come playoffs.

“We were all really into it and having a great time all season, but in the end, everybody was really, really gunning for the championship,” she said. “Everybody just really wants that “˜Champion’ T-shirt.”

Wheelchair basketball enjoys popularity as an IM sport ““ almost exclusively among those who have no experience riding in wheelchairs.

Fourth-year geography/environmental studies student Quentin Gregg, who has been a part of one of the league’s more competitive teams for three years, said he was surprised by the amount of newcomers interested in the sport.

“Pretty much everyone is able-bodied,” he said. “There’s a pretty steep learning curve, but there are definitely teams that become really, really competitive eventually.”

The learning curve, Gregg said, involves both the surprisingly strenuous nature of the sport as well as concerns of a more practical nature.

“You can learn how to roll fast pretty quickly, but once you’re going fast ““ trying to make a layup, say ““ it’s harder actually to learn how to stop,” he said with a laugh.

Gregg said little-known practice sessions, where people can master these mechanics before committing to a team, are available year-round. And for those who do become more seriously involved in the sport, there are a huge number of opportunities outside of the IM league.

“The guy who got our team together actually plays for a pro league, a Clippers-sponsored team,” Gregg said. “The sport could be so much more popular if people knew about it ““ these guys can do amazing things.”

More commonly known as beach volleyball, this sport has always been a favorite activity at Sunset Canyon Recreation Center, and it’s now enjoying an extra boost after this summer’s Olympic Games. As such, UCLA Recreation will offer a fall two-on-two tournament in addition to the spring league this year.

Mary Kate Vale, a second-year marine biology student who hopes to play in the fall tournament, had extra reason to be inspired by the Olympics.

“I loved watching Misty (May-Treanor) and Kerri (Walsh Jennings),” she said. “My old club coach used to train Misty, so it was really cool to watch them do so well.”

Vale said that these brushes with famous beach volleyball players are common in Southern California, widely considered the sport’s hotbed. For those hoping to play at UCLA, it also means many students have extensive experience playing, bringing a high level of competition even to casual games, Vale said.

Vale was quick to note that, despite the generally high skill level at UCLA and the added difficulty of trying to be agile in hot sand, the atmosphere of beach volleyball is the opposite of intimidating.

“What’s cool about beach volleyball is that you don’t have to be really good to keep a game going and volley a few times,” she said.

“It’s awesome that everyone from SoCal is so good, but everyone can get out there and mess around.”

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