IM-Rec keeps U.Va. fit
|Mad Bowl is getting a new surface — six inches of new soil to be exact, with new drainage and irrigation systems for the field, and a layer of fresh sod seeded with Bermuda grass. When it reopens in August, the field will continue to be used seven days a week for club sports, social functions and special events. Intramural-Recreational Sports administers the field.
By Matt Kelly
Newsweek magazine ranked U.Va. the hottest school in the country for fitness for 2005 because 94 percent of its undergraduates engage in some type of physical activity.
The magazine praised U.Va. for providing fitness facilities — Aquatic & Fitness Center, Memorial Gymnasium, Slaughter Recreation Center and the North Grounds Recreation Center — as well as several outdoor facilities including Carr’s Hill Field, Madison Bowl, Snyder Tennis Center and The Park, a 23-acre complex of athletic fields, all with easy access. The Aquatic & Fitness Center, as an example, is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to midnight.
“We have at least one of our facilities open 360 days a year,” said Mark Fletcher, director of the Intramural-Recreational Sports department. “The number of people who are here at 6 a.m. and from 11 p.m. to midnight is amazing.”
While IM-Rec tracks students through ID cards used to access its facilities and intramural team sign-ups, there is no way to monitor students who use the tennis and basketball courts or who run on outdoor tracks.
“I would like to believe that everyone participates in something” to stay physically fit, Fletcher said.
Fletcher’s department supervises intramural sports. Last year, 17,689 players participated on 1,606 intramural teams with three-week regular seasons. And this is separate from the roughly 2,000 students active in 65 club sports, which occupy the tier between intramurals and varsity contests. While club sports are not controlled by Intramural-Recreational Sports, they use IM-Rec facilities for practices and games and sometimes use IM-Rec officials.
Intramurals are a combination of traditional sports, such as football, baseball and basketball, and newer ones, such as floor hockey, ultimate Frisbee® and inner-tube water polo. There are 130 football and soccer teams, and 60 for inner-tube water polo. In the fall, indoor hockey draws 50 to 60 teams, a minimum of five players per team, with games booked seven days a week. Indoor soccer attracts 120 teams. Intramural participation is so extensive there are games every day with some starting at 9 p.m.
There are men’s teams and women’s teams, teams from dorm floors, or sororities and fraternities. There are some faculty teams and mixed student/faculty teams, especially in basketball. Spouses and other family members can also play. The Medical Center fields many teams during the summer, which has one 10-week intramural season.
For $50 per team, Intramural-Recreational Sports supplies coordination, advising, officials and fields.
“All the students do is form the team and play,” Fletcher said.
Intramural offerings are determined by demographics and as the student body has changed, older sports, such as boxing and horseshoes, have been pushed aside to favor soccer and indoor hockey.
“Horseshoes are not played in Asia,” Fletcher said. “This is one of the aspects about being more diverse. Indoor soccer has a constituency.”
Some sports, such as lacrosse, have made a comeback, Fletcher said. Others, such as arm wrestling, were added and then dropped.
“We look at what is happening in the high schools,” Fletcher said. If interest in a particular sport is increasing in high schools, more students will play it when they arrive at U.Va.
There is parity by sexes, according to S. Todd Bowman, intramural sports director. About 30 percent of intramural participants are women, and there are women’s teams in every sport offered for men. There are also co-ed teams. Intramurals and club sports are a strong gauge of women’s involvement in sports.
This interest has been strong enough to push some sports to the next level. Women’s rowing and women’s softball started as club sports and advanced to varsity level, Fletcher said.
Intramurals have also evolved beyond simple competitions — they are also social.
“It gives students a chance to get together in a setting outside of academics,” Fletcher said. “It’s a chance to learn about each other and the sport.”
While intramurals are promoted as recreation, Bowman said they take the place of physical education, which was dropped from University requirements in the 1970s.
There is no standard student profile for intramural sports participation.
“It’s everybody,” said Bowman, “From ‘never played sports before’ to ‘have been playing all my life.’”
Intramural & club
Self-organized teams, funded through a fee of $50 per team, which covers field and officiating expenses for a three-week season, five to six weeks if there are playoff games.
There are 65 student-organized teams, involving approximately one-sixth of the undergraduate students, with their own budgets and constitutions, funded through fund raising with some money from student activities fees. About 20 to 25 teams, such as men’s rowing and rugby, compete with clubs from other schools. There are also noncompetitive sports where the purpose of the club is educational, such as karate.
|Athletic facilities are also available to employees. IM-Rec Sports has kept the employee fee at $195 a year, which will be increasing to $207 in July. The University Benefits Office subsidizes $50 for each employee who signs up. About 4,000 faculty, staff and spouses are members. There is a wide range of sports and fitness courses available, from scuba diving to yoga to tennis.
Cavalier Day Camp, for children of faculty, staff and students, provides eight weeks of arts and crafts and field trips for about 120 children a week. For more information, visit www.virginia.edu/ims/.