Purdue University Northwest (PNW) celebrates the 70th anniversary of its intramural sports program in the 2022-23 academic year. The intramural program, which offers something for everyone, has been a staple of the university since 1952.
“Intramurals provide recreational fun for everyone,” says Matt Dudzik, Intramurals Assistant Athletic and Facilities Manager. “You don’t have to be an athlete, or have played a sport in high school, or even be good at an activity. You just have to want to go out, learn to play and have fun.
In 1952, Bob Hayes, longtime administrator of the PNW athletics department, started the intramural program with four sports – basketball, baseball, volleyball, and ping pong. Since then, the program has grown to include over 40 intramural activities.
“Intramurals are an important part of student life,” Dudzik explained. “Besides the obvious health benefits, it’s a great way to bond and meet other students. It also provides stress relief and an opportunity for fun. Additionally, studies show that intramural programs contribute to a student’s overall college experience and aid in retention.
The PNW program includes the usual lineup of basketball, volleyball, soccer and dodgeball; however, it also includes many non-traditional and unique offerings.
“Not everyone is athletic or wants to participate in athletic activities,” Dudzik said. “We have a variety of people on campus with a variety of interests and we try to make sure there is something for everyone.”
That something includes activities like baking and eating contests, fishing tournaments, quizzes, art contests, and ghost hunting.
“It’s an important program to have on campus because there’s something for everyone,” said Jake Ryan, a fourth-year history student majoring in social studies education. “There are so many different things to participate in that it’s hard not to find something that interests you.”
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The Portage native first took part in the intramural program by signing up for an eight-ball tournament during his first semester at PNW. “Unfortunately I was a first-round exit. But I had a great time, met a lot of nice people and even learned a few things,” Ryan recalled.
“We try to add a new activity every year,” Dudzik said. “It makes the program fresh and exciting. It gets people talking about the program and word of mouth is a great form of marketing. Ghost hunting is probably the most unique activity and we added it last spring.
PNW’s intramural program not only offers a variety of activities, but it also accommodates the busy school and life schedules of its participants. In addition to league activities, the program offers one-night tournaments and open play events.
“It’s important to adapt to people’s schedules,” Dudzik said. “Some people can’t commit to a weekly activity, so some of our events are just one night and don’t have registration. If you’re free that night, come out and join us.
Ultimately, Dudzik said the goal of the intramural program is to create a memorable college experience for participants.
For more information on intramural activities at PNW, visit pnw.edu/intramurals.
Cyndi Krohn is a writer for Purdue University Northwest.