Get your sport on

Story by Carolyn Tiry

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The sidelines and bleachers are often sparsely populated. Players often aren’t recognized for their skill beyond a t-shirt for league champions. But none of the athletes seem to mind.

 

These athletes participate in intramurals, which are non-competitive leagues of various sports hosted by UW-Eau Claire Recreation.

 

Junior Alysha Larson transferred to Eau Claire last year and used intramurals as a way to get to know more people and be able to play softball in a non-competitive league.

 

“I love batting, getting that contact and that sound of the bat hitting the ball,” she said. “I just wanted a way to play that was laid back. People can get pretty competitive, but mostly it’s just for fun.”

 

Erin Stevens, a sophomore studying creative writing, agreed and added that the atmosphere of a game depends on who is playing.

 

“There are a lot of different skill levels,” Stevens said, “so if you take it too seriously, you won’t have fun
with it.”

 

Stevens has been participating in intramural leagues for a year, playing both softball and sand volleyball. She said she prefers volleyball to softball because it feels more social, and it’s easier to interact and strike up conversations with the other team.

 

“The courts are on campus, which is really nice,” she said. “And it’s kind of like you’re holding on to the last threads of summer, playing in the sand.”

 

In many of the co-ed intramurals, there are rules regarding gender. For instance, each team needs to have the same number of male and female members, at least within one person — four men and five women or vice versa, for example. And there are even more rules regarding play itself. In sand volleyball, for example, if a woman touches the volleyball first, a man would need to touch it second. Stevens said she thinks these rules are a good thing.

 

“It makes it a more even playing field,” Stevens said, “and it’s a fun rule because you sometimes have to scramble … It makes the game interesting.”

 

Junior Dustin Hahn, who plays in the ultimate frisbee league, also thinks the rule is a good thing.

 

“Ultimate is a male-dominated sport still,” he said, “and a lot of times during pick-up (games) girls won’t get many touches, but when they come to intramurals they’re completely part of the team and getting passes. I think it’s a good thing for the sport, getting
people involved.”

 

Hahn got involved with ultimate frisbee intramurals his freshman year because of his RA. He said he thought it seemed like a good way to stay active.

 

“I’ve always been a pretty athletic person, I played soccer all through high school,” he said. “Ultimate came natural to me, and I wanted something a bit more competitive but not as much of a time commitment as club.”

 

The competitiveness of the game varies depending on which team is playing, Hahn said, but his team is always setting their sights on a win.

 

“We’re always shooting for the championship,” he said. “You get to know the teams and the games where you’ll have to give your all. Those are the games you look forward to.”

 

Because ultimate frisbee is a lesser known and lesser played game, Hahn said, there is definitely a sense of community within the league. The teams even occasionally share players.

 

“It’s kind of a friendly rivalry,” he said. “There’s some teasing and heckling, but everyone knows it’s all in good fun.”

 

Even though Larson plays in a more popular sport, she said that feeling of community exists in the softball league as well.

 

“It’s just nice to have that feeling of belonging.”

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