Bodies fly around the court. Tempers are on short fuses, so much so that it’s common to see balls slammed on the hardwood court with a subsequent technical foul. Hard fouls and playing full blast until the last whistle is part of the action game after game. The language may turn vulgar at times and the referees hear about it when they make a bad call on a play.
While UTRGV students see this intensity all year in the Fieldhouse, Soccer and Track & Field Complex and across the country, this isn’t intercollegiate athletics, it’s intramural league action.
Game night in the Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex is hectic, with matches starting at 5 and taking place consecutively until 10 o’clock. Art Cabrera, reaction specialist, who has an office right behind the main basketball court, is one of two people in charge of keeping all leagues running smoothly.
He pulled up a master spreadsheet that calculated 1,179 unique intramural competitors. The list did not include the many people who will jump from sport to sport as seasons close and new ones open up.
While the numbers at first glance all seemed positive, Cabrera said that increasing female participation is a big goal. Also, despite the really nice facility, he said even more courts and fields would be great for intramural participants and those who go to the Wellness Center without competing.
“We get a decent number of players but I imagine if we had more fields we could give the [players] more games per night, per game, per week and ultimately per league,” Cabrera said. “A lot of times when we take over the gym, we’re hurting our reaction side. So, our facilities are limited when we pretty much take over, using all three gyms for matches.”
He described the intensity of the games that take place nightly.
“It can get very competitive. Basketball and soccer, these are minimal contact sports. There is a little pushing and shoving, you gotta watch out, of course,” said Cabrera, who is also in charge of all student officials. “Plus, everybody wants to win, especially when you get a fanbase who are ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ and egging these players on if they make a nice shot or a dunk, a block.”
Leagues for numerous sports are available online for participants who want to sign up. Sports range from conventional, like basketball and volleyball, to more off-the-wall competition such as handball, kickball and “walleyball” which is a mixture of walleyball and volleyball.
Step outside to the fields adjacent to the facility and there’s action there as well. Cleats and fresh-cut grass coincide with intramural soccer.
Senior biology major Paulette Guzman makes time aside from being a full-time student and teaching assistant to play forward in intramural soccer for Los Chicharitos.
“It is the best thing for me,” said Guzman, who is the captain of her team. “It is an extra thing that makes you forget about everything, makes you forget about classes, about your problems. Besides, it is something good for your physical body and, definitely, I think it’s the best way to exercise and compete.”
After competing as a free agent and getting placed on a team her first semester, she now opens the team up for both volleyball and soccer, allowing players to join her team.
Games take place most weeknights in the center. Seasons start for various sports every few weeks. Intramural portals for both campuses are available on the university recreation page at UTRGV.edu