Intramural sports can create and strengthen friendships

Anyone can join, regardless of experience level

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Intramural sports can create and strengthen friendships

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Alanna Joachim, Collegian Columnist

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Everyone knows about the so-called “freshman 15” in college. At a school like the University of Massachusetts, with delicious food, tons of variety on the menu and accessibility at all hours of the day, it’s definitely easy to gain these initial extra pounds. After my first year on campus, I don’t think I can quite say I’ve gained 15 pounds, but I have definitely struggled to transition from high school, where I would go to practice every day for over two hours, to UMass, where I struggle to find motivation to go to the gym even one day a week. While I didn’t necessarily gain any weight, I instead lost considerable muscle mass and became generally out of shape since coming to college.

Considering I live in Sycamore Hall, one of the dorms located immediately adjacent to the gym, it’s more than a little sad that I haven’t been able to keep up with my old workout habits. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be in shape, or that I didn’t have the time. What is hardest for me is summoning the motivation it took to go to the gym, when it was just as easy not to, a struggle I know many can relate to. In high school, I was almost forced to work out by joining a team that practiced every day. I was motivated to work out and push myself in order for the effort to pay off in the next meet. At UMass, I struggled to find a similar type of commitment, where I would be motivated to be active, but with less of a time obligation than a club sport. This spring, I found that the perfect solution was intramural sports.

For those unfamiliar, intramural sports at UMass allow students to participate on a weekly basis in a league of their choice, “Just for Fun” or “Top Gun.” “Just for Fun” is designed for novice players, while “Top Gun” is for competitive players who have most likely played on a high school or club team before. With over 40 leagues, there are plenty of opportunities to play and have fun while still staying active. To join, all you have to do is make an IMleagues account, and either join a team that has already been formed by being a “free agent,” or make your own with a group of friends.

This spring, a group of friends and I formed a “Just for Fun” volleyball team. We only played once a week, and we were able to pick a time that worked best for all of us. This made finding time to work out and stay active easy. Sure, we were pretty terrible and lost all of our four games, plus a scrimmage, but playing on a team again was fun, and our failure was almost entertaining. After all, it was “just for fun.” Even if our team lost, playing and competing was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had at UMass so far. Not only did I get to spend time with my friends and think about something other than school for a while, we also got closer as friends and bonded through our losses (and I’m sure we would have from wins as well, if we’d had any). As a freshman, experiences like these are important. Even if you don’t have enough friends who want to form a full team, it’s easy to join a team with an open spot, and the possibilities for new friendships are endless from there.

I would highly recommend that any UMass student join an intramural sports team at least once during their time here. Not only can it help motivate you to stay active, playing as a team can help create and strengthen valuable friendships throughout college. Regardless of experience level or skill, anyone can find a place on an intramural team.

Alanna Joachim is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]