Intramurals keep more than 2,000 URI students in the game

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KINGSTON, R.I. — March 19, 2009 — The atmosphere was relaxed while the teams practiced lay-ups and three-point shots from the courts of the Tootell Physical Education Center. Teammates coached each other, yelling encouragement while they warmed up. Not all the players were there, so the game began as a four on four contest. As teammates arrived they were soon subbed in. As the game progressed, the teams called time outs to discuss strategy.

This is the world of intramural sports, with teams organized by students due to their love and interest for the sport. The Garden State Warriors, a team made up of New Jersey students, and the fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) competed on March 3 in their last game of the season.

With more than 2,200 participants this past fall and a total of 228 teams, the intramural sports department is flourishing. Intramurals give students the opportunity to participate in some of their favorite sports if they are unable or do not wish to compete at a varsity level.

“Intramural sports are about fun and include mostly male and co-ed participation,” said Chad Gouin, URI’s intramural sports director. “We offer a wide variety of sports so everyone can feel comfortable competing, including basketball, soccer, softball, bowling, ice hockey and even inner tube water polo. Some of our more popular sports include flag football and basketball; soccer is a close runner up. Volleyball is growing in popularity on the campus.”

Darell Handler, captain of the PIKE intramural basketball team, said intramural football is his favorite because he played in high school. “But overall, intramurals are a great way to see my friends out of school and social events,” Handler said. “I played varsity sports throughout high school, and so I like the strong competition in intramurals. It’s a good way to get exercise. The best part of intramural sports is the organization; it’s as close to a real game as it’s going to get.”

Some sports require referees while others can be self officiated. Student referees are trained, paid and usually have some interest or background in the sport. However, those with little experience in the sport can enroll in training that will supply them with everything they need to know. This gives those who may not want to compete the chance to get involved. The intramural staff consists of 45 URI students, and refs are paid from the Department of Recreational Services budget, which is made up primarily of funds from student fee dollars. Most sports require a fee of $25 per team.

The intramurals tend to be male dominated, which is something Gouin’s staff is working to change and get more people aware and involved. Currently the only women’s divisions exist for basketball, and the rest of the teams are co-ed.

The programs are open to students, professors and staff. A group of faculty members come in every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11 a.m. to practice and have been playing basketball together for years. Hence, team members chose the name MWF11.

Gouin, expressed how much he enjoys the intramural sports program.

“I officiate the hockey games. Each week may not go as planned, there are lots of the spur of the moment things. It really keeps it interesting and fun.”

Since the program is open to the entire student population, staff and faculty, there are obviously a lot of different levels of expertise. So some of the more popular sports have a competitive division and a recreational division. The two sports with these subdivisions are basketball and football. Soccer is growing and is almost at their level and will probably be split into two divisions next semester.

While the games have plenty of excitement, team names also generate plenty of spirit and laughs. Some team names from the past were: The Drunken Clam, a local bar in the television show Family Guy, Fourth Quarter Pounders, Hooters and Shooters, Weldin All stars and the Puff Daddy Fan Club. This year there are teams with names such as: Alex is Damn Sexy, and Chuck Norris.

Pictured above

ON THE RUN–Mike Oppito, No. 33 for the Garden State Warriors, (in white) dribbles down the court while holding off his opponents, Brett Nunziata , No. 22 and Darell Handler No.11 of PIKE, while Michael Olenick No. 34, Oppito’s teammate, runs to meet him down the court. URI Communications and Marketing Photo by Michael Salerno.

GOING HARD TO THE BUCKET– No. 11 on PIKE, Darell Handler, (in blue) goes in for a slam-dunk while, Sereth Osgood, No. 10, and James McIntosh, No. 25 of the Garden State Warriors try and block his shot. URI Communications and Marketing Photo by Michael Salerno.

A WELL-DESERVED BREATHER–Sereth Osgood, of the Garden State Warriors (in white) takes a break on the bench during half time. URI Communications and Marketing Photo by Michael Salerno.