Students have options in intramurals, Club Sports

Volleyball was the second most popular intramural sport during the fall semester.

Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the February issue of GCU Magazine, which can be read digitally here. To see more images by photographer Ralph Freso, here are slideshows of intramurals and Club Sports.

Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Ralph Freso
GCU Magazine

Madison Martin listed the intramural teams she played on in the fall semester.

All nine of them.

GCU junior Madison Martin played on nine intramural teams.

First, there were two volleyball teams and a soccer team – the Grand Canyon University program divides each semester into two seasons. Then three sand volleyball teams and a flag football team.

Wait, that’s seven. She wasn’t sure about the other two. “Maybe I played basketball for a little bit,” she said sheepishly.

OK, so maybe that’s a tough question when you’re as active as the junior communications major. But Martin had those opportunities thanks to an important change that helped the program set a record for participation – students could sign up in advance to play all their games at specified times.

“It’s more work on our end, but the forfeit rate has gone down, and it helps kids participate more,” Campus Recreation Director Matt Lamb said.

Alex Roldan is like Martin in two ways: He also is a junior majoring in communications, and he likewise used the new setup to play a lot of intramural sports – four volleyball teams, three soccer teams. (Only seven – slacker!)

Alex Roldan was on "only" seven teams in intramurals.

“I went into the semester knowing I wanted to be on a lot of teams, so I scheduled my semester around that,” he said.

That wasn’t easy. He’s a student worker and a resident assistant, which meant he had to avoid assignments in either role on Monday through Thursday evenings, during intramural play.

Even more remarkable: He found his way onto all these teams even though he transferred to GCU only a year ago. He saw intramurals as a great way to make friends. Now that he’s captain of several teams, he takes delight in scanning the list of free agents and bringing in students who need a team. One of his teams touched his heart for that reason.

“We didn’t do very well, but everyone felt being included was really important,” he said. “I like to make sure other people feel included.”

That’s the beauty of intramurals – inclusion. If a student is a more serious athlete, there are multiple skill levels.

“And if you’ve never played before, there’s a division for that, too,” Lamb said.

Women's hockey is one of six club teams that don't have a Division I counterpart at GCU.

The same is true in the Club Sports program, which gives students the opportunity to play their counterparts from other colleges. These tend to be more serious athletes (many of them are recruited to come to GCU), but there’s still a variety.

“I think Club Sports is definitely something where you get out what you put in,” said junior Emma Drake, who plays soccer. “If you want to be super competitive and work hard and go to practice every time and run extra sprints, Coach has extra things for you to do. If you want to be super laid back and just hang out with people, there’s a place for that, too.”

The most serious participants are in the six major Club Sports that don’t have Division I counterparts at GCU – rugby, lacrosse and hockey all have men’s and women’s teams.

Rugby’s culture is known worldwide. Senior business management major Logan Hill loves its “hooligan sport played by gentlemen” moniker, and that gentlemanly demeanor pervades the GCU program. He was stunned when, during his freshman year, seniors regularly sought to eat meals with him; now he practices the same welcoming rite with younger players.

The club bowling team faced Arizona State in a match last fall at GCU's Thunderground alleys.

“The oldest boys, when I was a freshman, reiterated constantly, ‘Culture, culture, culture,’” he recalled. “You build from the ground up with culture. What that means is doing a lot of stuff outside of practice.

“I’ve made, I would say, 99% of my friends at GCU through rugby. Creating a bond with the boys is something that brings the team so close together and translates onto the field 100%.”

Like intramurals, the social aspect is huge – and players can find their way into Club Sports from two directions.

Junior Addy Rosenau figured she would play intramurals when she arrived at GCU from her home in the Seattle area, but then she discovered the club program. She hadn’t met many people beyond her roommates and was an all-conference volleyball player in high school, so she came to tryouts and won a spot on the team.

Drake, on the other hand, had committed to playing Division I soccer at another university after her high school team won a section championship. She changed her mind after discovering GCU, and it suits her.

“I’m perfectly happy with what Club Sports offers in terms of time and commitment but then also providing the competition and high level I want,” she said. “I wouldn’t change my decision. For what I wanted out of sports, this is the perfect thing to be doing.”

However often you do it.

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].

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Related content:

GCU Magazine: GCU reaches the pinnacle of recreation options

GCU Today: Students are eager to get in the Club Sports game

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