By Marcus Mitchell
Hidden within the crowds and classrooms at UT are students with immense athletic ability. Unlike our varsity athletes, these students tend to go unnoticed. During the day, they lack any difference to the other students around them, but when the night falls they begin to truly shine. These Spartans storm their battlefields with only one goal in mind: to become an intramural champion.
UT’s intramural program is the best in Florida and one of the top 50 in the nation, according to bestcolleges.com’s 2015 rankings. And with 32 sports and tournaments collectively over the course of the school year, it is easy to see why the school received this designation. The fall sports already well into their seasons are Ultimate Frisbee, Indoor Soccer and Kickball, which is making its debut at UT.
Over 1000 students have registered for these three sports alone and 72 teams have been formed, all intending to capture not just glory, but also the coveted 2015 Intramural Champion T-shirt.
One such team looking to land in the UT intramural history books is kickball squad Bump n’ Blaze. A name feared by all after their championship dodgeball run and second-place finish in handball, Bump n’ Blaze is more than just a team; they’re a dynasty in the making. With a 2-0 start in the co-rec division, senior captain Sammy Randazzo’s eyes are set on adding a kickball championship shirt to the team’s wardrobe.
“This is my first time being the captain for Bump n’ Blaze,” said Randazzo. “But we have played a lot of intramural sports together and know our strengths and weaknesses. That, along with great communication, has been our key to success on the field.”
Played on the softball field, kickball is a favorite among students who want to go out and have fun with friends, while also feeding their competitive side. For senior captain Courtney Callahan, who has been doing intramurals since her sophomore year, the new addition to the fall season has been met with open arms, and not just because her team, Who Kicked Your Ball?, is placed near the top of the standings.
“Kickball has been great, I can definitely say that Who Kicked Your Ball? is having a great time with it,” said Callahan. “It’s a little bittersweet since this is my senior year and I love doing intramurals, but it’s been incredible to be able to play alongside both old teammates and new faces.”
While senior captains are a mainstay in the realm of UT intramurals, a freshman captain has taken the men’s ultimate Frisbee league by storm. International Business major Brendan Cave is the captain of Barn Muckers and his charismatic confidence and game-breaking talent on the field has led his team to a 2-0 start in the 10-team league.
“We are only 2-0 at this point, but after beating our opponent 17-2 I definitely believe we are the best team in the league,” said Cave. “We have a group of really athletic and competitive guys who want and love to win. We recruited a high-class group of Frisbee-ers and we are gunning for a championship.”
While intramurals are a recreational activity open to any UT student, some players like Cave use the opportunity to fuel their inner fires of competition. Some teams recruit players, add free agents and even practice to ensure that they reach the level of play they want to reach. This is true for many teams in the intense intramural sport of indoor soccer.
With 19 teams and 194 registered players in the men’s division alone, indoor soccer has been the platform for both domestic and international students to showcase their love for the universally known sport. Played in a 5v5 format with goalkeepers, indoor soccer features many teams hoping to claim their championship shirts. Leading the pack of hopefuls is Classic IV, a team off to a hot 3-0 start and captained by sophomore striker Andres Gonzalez.
“I think we are one of the best teams, I don’t know if we are the number one team, but we are definitely up there,” said Gonzalez. “Our first few games were very intense but we are a team that never gives up. We came from behind to win our first two games with goals in the last five minutes and our goalkeeper was injured in our third match and we still pulled through. I think we can win if we keep this up.”
While captains like Cave and Gonzalez are focused heavily on the competitive aspect, the casual side of intramurals is enjoyed equally. No player understands the difference between competitive intensity and casual fun than junior men’s kickball captain Austin Rettig.
Though currently captaining his team, SIGMA CHI, in kickball, Rettig is best known at UT for his role on the men’s basketball team, where he was the third-leading scorer for the Spartans last season. With the basketball season not coming until this winter, Rettig has taken to the kickball field for a fun and casual way to spend his offseason.
“The competitive spirit I have when I am on the field is much less intense compared to when I am on the court,” said Rettig. “The biggest difference for me is the time I put in to get better. I like kickball because it’s fun and a nice way to get a workout in.”
Whether you are a star basketball player or a freshman just looking for friends, intramurals is the perfect balance between casual fun and intense competition. Registration for sand volleyball has ended, but the sign-ups for flag football begin on Oct. 11 and ends on Oct. 25. So prepare a witty team name, whip up some uniforms and paint on the eye black. The road to becoming an intramural champion is a hard one, but you’re a Spartan.