Intramural sports are now free for University students through the UREC.
Intramurals allow students to participate in competitive and recreational sports on campus. Teams previously had to pay $50 to $100 to join an intramural sports league last year, but now don’t have to pay anything to form a team and compete.
UREC Coordinator for Intramural Sports and Camps Shan Paracka said these changes were made to allow more students to participate.
“We didn’t want to have a financial barrier for students on this campus,” Paracka said. “Talking to Student Government, it was partially their idea coming to us and wanting to remove that barrier and make it accessible to all students.”
When students were paying to participate in intramurals, Paracka said, their money went toward intramural equipment. This year, however, his department and SG funded intramurals with their own money.
At first, the UREC debated reducing the cost but decided to make intramural sports free after seeing how many other colleges and universities were doing the same.
“We thought it’d be a good idea to get as many people to participate as possible and open that door up for everyone,” Paracka said.
Paracka said intramural sports are a good way for students to get involved on campus in something other than school and spend time with friends. The UREC offers 19 intramural sports, ranging from softball to esports.
“We try to do different things and allow them to participate in something they either grew up playing or never had a chance to play before and now have the opportunity to do that,” Paracka said. “I’m excited that students get this opportunity because I enjoyed playing when I was in undergrad.”
Kinesiology sophomore Erica Lebeouf said the change allowed her to join an intramural soccer team for the first time.
“I have never played soccer in my life, but it’s always been something I wanted to try,” Lebouf said. “Since I’ve never had any experience, I wouldn’t have done it if I had to pay for it.”
Mass communication sophomore Hannah Grace Babin played volleyball, basketball and outdoor soccer last year and is currently playing indoor soccer. She said the free aspect has made intramurals more fun because it allows more students to participate.
“It makes it a lot easier for teams to afford to apply, so there’s a lot more teams to play against,” Babin said. “Last year it was just two or three teams so you just played the same teams over and over again. Now, with it being free, there’s a lot more people to play, so it’s a lot more fun.”
Paracka said the number of students involved in intramural sports has already increased.
Last year, 2,475 individual students participated in intramurals. This semester, 2,307 students have already signed up. With indoor volleyball, softball, three versus three basketball, kickball and smaller tournaments still accepting members, Paracka said, the UREC expects enrollment to increase even further.
“It is a learning year of seeing how much growth we’re going to have as a program with more teams and more participants,” Paracka said.
Paracka said his department has hired 15 new officials and is going to see where they end up fiscally at the end of the year.