Record-breaking participation for UDCR intramurals

Pictured is Stuart Field. Courtesy of the University of Dayton

TJ Thompson | Contributing Writer

Campus recreation is expecting a record 4,300 students participate in intramural sports this academic year.

In 2019, Dayton ranked 11th in the nation by the Princeton Review for participation in intramural sports, and according to the University of Dayton website, nearly 60 percent of students participate in intramural sports every year. 

“From volleyball to lacrosse, ice hockey to ultimate frisbee, our students field hundreds of teams in a wide variety of sports, even dodgeball,” the University of Dayton athletics page says.

“Intentional, developmentally focused experiences meet fun on the journey to where sport, play, and life meld to create the foundation for lifelong wellness,” says campus recreation’s vision statement for the intramural sports program at UD, which has become one the best in the country. 

Intramural sports are obviously a great way to get active, but the social benefits of participating are huge as well.  

According to Nathan Paul Penland of Liberty University in 2017, “Students involved in these types of extracurricular activities make friends, orient to campus, and create relationships with faculty more quickly.” 

The social benefits of intramural sports are particularly important for first-year students and commuter students. Officials from the National Institute of Health called attention to a study done by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, which found that commuter students felt more belonging with their university and first-year students reported significantly higher social benefits compared to fourth-year students when involved in extracurricular sports.

 The NASPA study prompted an interview with a UD student in an attempt to verify its findings.

UD sophomore Lexi Rump began playing intramural sports as a freshman. 

“I love it,” she said, referring to her experience. “It lets me keep going with soccer and get a little workout in.”

Rump recommends intramural sports to anyone who doesn’t participate: “One-thousand percent it’s so fun!”

Rump hopes to play intramural sports all four years she’s at UD, and she said she cannot imagine not playing.

To the surprise of none, basketball is the most popular intramural sport on campus, said Josie Juhring. She is guiding the intramural sports program right now because of a vacancy in the full-time position.

“Five versus five basketball had the most teams, with 168 playing in spring 2023, and seven versus seven flag football, with 142 teams playing in fall 2023,” she said via email.

There were approximately 3,288 unique participants in the fall of 2022 and 2,964 this spring, she said.

What percentage of UD students participate in intramural sports? According to Juhring:

  • 4,120 unique participants last year (about 50% of undergraduate population)
    • 1,326 were freshmen
    • 1,346 were sophomores
    • 1,243 were juniors
    • 893 were seniors
    • 78 were graduate students or staff

“Covid has impacted participation rates,” she said, noting that in 2020-2021, “we dropped from 4,050 unique participants to 3,106 unique participants. We built that back up in 2021-2022 rising to 3,966 unique participants and last year we achieved a record high of 4,120 unique participants.” 

Juhring also said UD has one of the largest participation rates in the country and the campus recreation staff is excited that so many students choose to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in intramural activities, which they believe have mental and physical health benefits, such as growing your community of friends, relieving stress, and promoting positive physical activity. 

This year, she said, campus recreation is expecting a record high of 4,300 participants. Visit the UD Campus Recreation Intramural Sports website for more information!

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