Sophomore Martha Torres has found that the Intramural Sports Program (DHi) at California State University, Dominguez Hills has a lot more in store for students than just earning one unit to play their favorite sport.
“I tried different sports,” says the kinesiology major, who assists the program as an intern, which is sponsored by American Collegiate Intramural Sports (ACIS) .“I was into soccer, soccer, soccer. So I tried tennis; it was very interesting. Softball, I didn’t even know how to play [at first]. This semester, I’m going to try aqua aerobics. I don’t even know how to swim, but I’m going to try it. That is college… experimenting.”
In its third year at CSU Dominguez Hills, the program has provided non-athletes with a healthy outlet for exercise and a respite from academic rigors. In addition, it’s become a point of entry for aspiring Toro athletes. Program assistant Wayne Timmerman (Class of ’07, B.A., recreation and leisure studies) says that Yadira Gomez, a former student in intramurals, is now a midfielder on the women’s soccer team.
“I always tell [students], ‘If you can’t make the team, at least get your exercise here, get your practice in, and then keep trying to get on the team,’” he says. “And that’s what they do, they keep trying. It’s like an avenue to the collegiate teams.”
George Wing, director of the program, says that intramural sports also provides a venue for networking among students, especially incoming freshmen. He gave the example of members of the Latino Student Business Association, who have enrolled en masse in order to play soccer and meet like-minded students.
“They’re our biggest recruiter for the soccer [course],” says Wing. “They’re actually talking business and about their classes while they play soccer. It’s been a really good network for that. Also, it’s really helped the freshmen, so that they are able to get involved. It’s not just coming to class and going home or to [student] housing. They get to know each other; it adds another element to the college experience.”
Tyler Watanabe (Class of ’10, B.A., recreation and leisure studies), transferred from El Camino College where he was on the tennis team. As a student in intramural sports at CSU Dominguez Hills, he found the classes to be “a stress reliever.” He is now a United States Professional Tennis Association certified tennis instructor, who teaches privately and in the Dominguez Hills intramural program.
“It got my mind off some of my harder classes,” Watanabe says. “I would get everything off my mind and just go out there and play tennis. I think that it makes [students] healthier and more well-rounded.”
The intramural sports program at CSU Dominguez Hills is a member of ACIS, which provides campuses with corporate sponsorships from companies like Tinactin, Playtex, Jelly Belly, and Nike. The companies provide incentives for students such as free equipment, sports apparel, and other prizes. Last fall, students won athletic footwear from Creative Recreation, donated by West Coast sales representative Rollie Wing, a former CSU Dominguez Hills student and infielder for Toro Baseball. This semester, all students who were enrolled in intramural sports classes last fall were put into a drawing to win a road training bicycle from Schwinn courtesy of ACIS. Last week, freshman Syed Rab won the bike. The criminal justice major was enrolled in an Ultimate Frisbee class, which he is attending again this spring.
But the single greatest benefit of intramural sports at CSU Dominguez Hills is the feeling of a sound mind in a sound body. Jeanette Nailor (Class of ’09, B.A., kinesiology/dance) is earning her teaching credential and teaches the aqua aerobics class. She says that many of her students will make the effort toshow up to class because of its benefits, both physical and emotional.
“A lot of my students come to every single class,” says Nailor, who was a DHi teaching assistant as an undergraduate. “Even if they’re in a bad mood that day, they come and socialize during class, [which] kind of turns their mood around. I’ve actually had students say, ‘This is my only class today,’ so they’ve come to campus just to do intramural sports, instead of paying that high gym membership.
“It’s the endorphins,” she says. “It just makes you feel good.”
For more information on intramural sports at CSU Dominguez Hills, click here.