By Kyle Cape-Lindelin, Staff Writer -- email@example.com
After pausing for winter break, the Intramural Program is back and seeing an influx of participants. Coed flag football, 5-on-5 basketball and table tennis are in season, with indoor volleyball, ultimate and outdoor soccer on the horizon.
Coed football, an addition to the intramural lineup two years ago, is just one of the sports that has seen its popularity increase. Twenty teams signed up, making it one of the most popular intramural sports UP offers.
"We have a record number of participants in coed football, which is awesome," Brent Groulik, a senior intramural sports coordinator, said. "We only had 16 teams the year before, and 12 the year before that."
Groulik chalks up the increase in teams to an increased awareness of the sport.
"People enjoy the sport and tell their friends to play, which leads to more teams," Groulik said.
Football has attracted a wide range of participants, as evidenced by the large number of teams.
"I love playing football," Katie Metzger, a senior, said. "It's nice to have the opportunity to play again, because my only experience before this was for 20 minutes in PE where the girls ran around in circles."
Senior Matt Tominaga appreciates the structure that the intramural program brings to the sport.
"I'm definitely happy to be playing football," Tominaga said. "The refs do a great job at organizing things, and it's just like a real game. Win or lose, it's great to just get out there and play."
He also noted how the special coed rules help keep the game fair for all participants. These rules include awarding more points when women are involved in a score, and requiring a certain number of passes to include women as well.
"You're trying to get everyone involved, so the rules do a good job of including everyone," Tominaga said.
Basketball has also proved to be popular, with a division one men's league, a division two men's league and a women's league. This year the women's league, which has been historically small, has six teams.
"We have a record number of women's basketball teams – twice as many as last year," Groulik said. "Usually we only have three teams, which was never fun for them because they played the same teams over and over again. Now there is a lot more variety."
Besides football, Metzger is also participating in basketball and table tennis. She is glad for the opportunity to try new sports.
"I didn't even really play ping-pong before I came to UP," Metzger said.
Tominaga is also grateful for the opportunity to play a wide variety of sports besides just football, and is particularly looking forward to dodgeball.
"I think the intramural program is great," Tominaga said. "They offer almost every sport that I can think of. If I get a group of friends together to play, I'll definitely be doing dodgeball later this semester."
For those who missed sign-ups, hope is not lost. There is still time to join a team.
"As long as someone has joined a team on Athleague and played in at least one regular season game they are eligible for playoffs," Groulik said.
While it is too late for the current semester, fellow intramural coordinator Emma Healy encourages students to think about looking into the intramural program as a campus job opportunity for next year.
"If you enjoy playing sports, and are already involved in intramurals, reffing is a great employment opportunity," Healy, a junior, said.