By John Brown
Arizona Summer Wildcat July 30, 1997
UA sport programs offer students competition in relaxed environmentParticipating in intramural sports or joining one of the UA's 32 sport club teams can provide great opportunities for freshman to jump into college life.
"It's important for them to get involved," said Mary O'Mahoney coordinator of intramural sports and sport clubs. "For a lot of freshman, it's a good use of leisure time."
O'Mahoney said studies have shown that students who get involved in extracurricular activities early in their academic careers are more likely to stay in school.
Intramurals are organized league and tournament sports designed for students, faculty, and staff to play together in a moderately competitive atmosphere. The main objective is exercise and fun. Teams are formed among residence halls, departments, fraternities and sororities.
"It's a great opportunity to meet people, and if students don't know anyone, we work to get them on a team," she said. This year, the program is devoted to increasing women's participation, she said.
Leagues offer men's, women's, and co-recreational divisions, which are divided into three skill-level categories: Desert - newly acquired skills, Sunset - moderately skilled, and Cactus - Highly skilled.
Teams play a three-game season, an intra-league playoff, and then continue into a single elimination tournament bracket.
In addition to giving students a break from classes, intramural sports can also offer great employment opportunities since league sports are student officiated.
Working as a intramural sports official is a great way to meet fellow students on campus, O'Mahoney said. She said campus jobs are more flexible and indicate to future employers a successful student.
She said no experience is necessary and that the program offers paid training sessions for each sport. In addition, students are encouraged to referee as many sports as they would like, creating the potential to have a yearly job.
Officiating also helps students learn responsibility and offers the possibility of advancement, she said. The salary for referees next year will be significantly higher than other part-time student jobs, she said.
"We really want to attract quality individuals," she said.
Students who want to compete on the collegiate level and have the chance to play against other schools around the country can try out for one the many non-scholarship sport club teams at the UA.
Sports include ice hockey, water polo, men's rugby, synchronized swimming, various martial arts and even cricket.
Men's club soccer during the past few seasons has produced a highly powerful squad and usually attracts a large number of students during fall try-outs. Men's lacrosse was a semi-finalist in last year's club team national championship and the women's squad also had one of their best seasons.