BY MARCUS MITCHELL
With the spring semester nearing its end, students have a final chance to claim one of UT’s greatest achievements: becoming an intramural champion. Play has started in the last session of intramural sports this year and with it comes over a hundred athletes eager to land in the imleagues.com record books.
Earlier in the year, students duked it out in classic sports like basketball and volleyball as well as neighborhood games like kickball and dodgeball. In this final session, teamwork and cooperation are emphasized with outdoor soccer, floor hockey and softball on the list. In these sports where teams require a large number of players, the leadership of a captain is as equally important as their skill level. Whereas volleyball teams only have six or seven players, outdoor soccer teams field 11 and need even more athletes on the roster to rest players throughout a game. This has led sophomore marketing major and co-rec softball team captain Mallory Kuba to take on a more managerial approach to prevent forfeitures.
“Everyone on the team is involved in a lot of different organizations from ZBT, Kappa Alpha Theta, Theta Chi, DSP, to student productions and beach club,” Kuba said. “Everyone has different schedules so I make a google doc before every game and those that can make the game that week sign up.”
This isn’t Kuba’s first intramural rodeo, as she has played 17 games in her collegiate career, but it is her first time captaining a team. Kuba has yet to win a trophy for her virtual trophy case, but that may change with her team, aptly named “Where My Pitches At,” boasting a deep lineup of 20 players, tied for highest in the league.
The value of a strong captain can be seen in outdoor soccer as well, where sophomore sport management major Ashley Grau will be captaining her team from one of the most grueling positions in all of sports.
“[I was a] goalkeeper for 10 years and the position takes a toll physically and mentally, but you have to stay strong and be able to keep the team together and lead them during a game,” Grau said. “This season, I really want to have fun but I definitely want to be able to get back on the field and play the game that was my life for so many years and maybe get that spark back in me”
After her indoor volleyball team was forced to forfeit in the playoffs last year from not having enough players, Grau has gone to great lengths to ensure that doesn’t happen again. Her sorority has teamed up with a fraternity to create her team Pi Phi/Lambda Chi. This greek alliance hopes to conquer the league.
But Grau isn’t the only captain with an intriguing storyline following them into this season. In fact, Grau’s first opponent is senior Ricardo Cordova who is hoping to add an outdoor soccer trophy to his collection after achieving four indoor ones. In floor hockey, senior Kristen McKenna hopes to cap off her collegiate career with an 11th championship, including last year’s floor hockey title.
For seniors like Cordova and McKenna, this is the last opportunity to play an intramural sport. It’s a time where between ordering caps and gowns and applying for jobs, seniors can have old-fashioned fun with their college friends one last time before graduating. And for senior secondary education English major Courtney Callahan, this last go-around is almost poetic as she finishes her collegiate career with her favorite sport.
“I’ve been playing softball since I was in fifth grade so it’s definitely a love of mine,” Callahan said. “It’s bittersweet for sure, but I’m excited to see what this season will bring.”
Callahan is hoping to ride the momentum of a year that’s been her best yet with trophies in dodgeball, kickball and flag football. Her softball team, “Pitch Slap,” will likely be the last team Callahan plays for, and she has advice for those who may be on the fence about joining an intramural team next year:
“Get out there and try something new whether, it’s a sport [you’re] familiar with or not,” she said.
That’s the allure of intramurals. It doesn’t matter if you were an all-state player in high school or an amateur who has never swung a bat in your life; intramurals bring people together and are just plain fun. Maybe you want to rediscover your love for an old sport or maybe you just want to try something out? Either way you’re going to have a good time.