Intramural sports help students grow community, competitions and friendships
By Cooper Nelson
GCU News Bureau
Kason Marques found his “ohana,” or family, through intramural sports.
The 20-year-old sports management junior arrived at Grand Canyon University in 2011 from Hilo, Hawaii — a move that left him nearly 3,000 miles away from friends and family and in a culture vastly different than his native island.
Marques said he turned to intramural sports to combat the homesickness of his freshman year. As a former football player at Kea’au High School, he related to flag football teammates and credited his involvement in intramurals as the foundation for his current group of friends.
“To me, (intramurals) is all about building friendships and community,” said Marques, who serves as intramural director for Associated Students of GCU. “Over the past few years, I have grown so much because of intramurals and I wanted to join intramurals to continue to build the community.”
Flag football kicked-off GCU intramurals last week as the first of five sports. The remaining four sports include volleyball, basketball, soccer and beach volleyball. Each sport is co-ed and most contain two leagues: the laid-back recreation league, suited for sport novices; and the intense competitive league, created for former athletes.
This fall, single-day league tournaments are available to students on Saturdays. Single-day sports include ultimate Frisbee, softball, kickball, bowling, Ping-Pong and 3-on-3 basketball.
Weekly sports are held weekdays 5-11 p.m. Students can register for leagues or check schedules and standings at Imleagues.com.
Tackling Campus Growth
Matt Lamb began serving as GCU’s director of intramurals last year. He immediately faced the challenge of serving the largest student body in University history.
With 475 students registering for flag football this fall, Lamb said the total number of teams nearly doubled from 20 to 38. Lamb said he was proud of what his Student Engagement team accomplished with the launch on intramurals, but believed there was more work to be done — including preparations for another surge of students next year, and creating sports that cater more to female students.
“We try to offer (students) the best experience possible by offering them what they want in athletic events,” said Lamb, 30, a former college basketball player at Rochester College in Michigan. He served as sports and recreation coordinator for a church in his hometown Indianapolis before coming to GCU.
“There’s just more to coordinate and that’s going to continue to be a challenge, but a good challenge,” Lamb said.
“We are trying to figure out what works best for our students,” he said. “I think (in the end) intramurals is just about students creating excitement amongst themselves.”
One Sport, Three Perspectives
While some students view intramurals as a chance to meet peers and escape the demands of college life, others view it as a chance to continue their glory days of high school athletics.
Adam Johnson, a GCU sophomore, has played intramurals in the recreation league since he first stepped onto campus. He said he refuses to take himself or the sport too serious. His flag football team, the Butt Fumblers, is a play off an infamous football mishap by New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Johnson played basketball at La Joya High School in Glendale, though he sees intramurals as an escape from class and opportunity to interact with peers.
“It’s just a good time,” said the 20-year-old sports management major. “When you’re not working or in class, you can just go out there and play.”
Joeseph Gonzalez has a different perspective. Gonzalez played quarterback at La Joya and reluctantly joined Johnson’s recreation league team as a chance to play football again. He planned to join the competitive league next year.
“I played quarterback in high school but I was too small to play in college,” said Gonzalez, a freshman secondary education major with an emphasis in physical education. “I use (intramurals) to see if I have an opportunity to play a different position (at another school).”
Lindsay Tester, one of the few women who play intramural football, said she enjoys intramurals for the opportunity to do something athletic and compete with the guys. She has played intramurals for four years at GCU. Her team won volleyball and recreation league basketball last year.
“I played sports in high school and I like to be active, and intramurals is just a cool way to have fun,” said Tester, a senior nursing major. “And it’s fun to show (guys) up. They don’t expect it from (girls).”
Contact Cooper Nelson at 639.7511 or [email protected]