The ’69ers flag football team practices on the East Field. Photo by Rosario Serna.
The ’69ers flag football team practices on the East Field. Photo by Rosario Serna.
Intramural sports are considered a good way of combining friendship with physical activity. Photo by Rosario Serna.
Intramural sports are considered a good way of combining friendship with physical activity. Photo by Rosario Serna.

The Intramural Sports program is touted as being UC Santa Cruz’s oldest campus sports tradition, according to the Office of Physical Education, Recreation and Sports (OPERS) website.

Kevin “Skippy” Givens is only the second intramural sports supervisor in the history of the campus and has held the title since 1988.  Before taking over the position, he worked alongside Terry Wood, who founded the Intramural program at UCSC in 1966.

“The program still runs close to the ideals that Terry began with,” Givens said. “We try to create a community that helps transcend any socioeconomic, sexual or ethnic barriers — a community where all those things become secondary to the participation.”

The programs are diverse in terms of their participants, and in the athletic ability and experiences they possess. There are coed leagues and leagues with no gender requirements. There are leagues that allow students who are just looking for a fun time, and leagues for those who are looking to win and play competitively. There are basketball, football, indoor and outdoor soccer, and softball leagues, just to name a few.

First-year psychology major Ashley Giannini has never played softball in an organized environment before. She joined up with fellow members of the College Eight student life staff.

“I thought it would be fun to join up with a team, and they were putting one together, and I’m an alternate with the group,” Giannini said. “I wanted to participate in more sports here, so I figured, ‘why not?’”

Patrick Schock, a fourth-year business management major, plays with the ’69ers, a flag football team made up of males with different athletic backgrounds, from football to rugby. Schock has been playing intramural sports since he first came to UCSC, and has witnessed changes, particularly in the football and basketball leagues.

“I feel like it’s become more competitive — there are better teams now and it’s just become more intense,” Schock said. “People come out and they know what they are talking about and doing. Teams even practice, so the competition has just become much higher.”

Schock also said that the intramurals give students an outlet to release their energies.

“They provide a sports release. We’re not very big on sports here on campus, but when I joined up, I wanted to play some flag football and just do something outside of the classroom,” Schock said. “Just knowing that I can come out on a Tuesday and play football with my friends against other people, or play basketball whenever — it’s just extremely beneficial to the athletically inclined.”

Intramurals are nothing without the referees who make sure games go on according to set rules and safety precautions.

Tyler Hunt, a second-year biomedical engineering major, says the job has both pros and cons.

“I enjoy refereeing, I like getting paid, but I don’t like hearing people complain. That’s the worst part of the job,” Hunt said.

It’s up to the referees to get in-between players caught in the heat of the moment.

“There’s always a lot of trash-talk going on, and there was even a fight that broke out last week. You just have to try and get in the middle and break people apart. We can’t have any punches being thrown or any injuries,” Hunt said. “I wasn’t refereeing that game, I was watching. But the people who were [refereeing] handled it correctly.”

Building an active community since 1966 is no easy task, but the UCSC intramurals are open to anyone and everyone willing to go out and have a good time staying active.

“In the end, intramurals are supposed to be fun,” Givens said. “You start off with just a bunch of buddies in the dorm, get together once a week and knock the softball around, but what ends up happening is you start to build some lifelong friendships through that.”