Spring Challenge gives students outlet from finals stress

As the spring break vacation becomes more of a faded memory and the final weeks of the spring semester begin to absorb students’ lives, a select few look to the Intramural Spring Team Challenge as an outlet to relieve the academic burdens and college frustrations that build up.

This time of year, due dates, deadlines and study groups begin to take a back seat to springtime blues and obsessive procrastination. The Spring Team Challenge provides a much-needed release for UAA students to break their monotonous schedules and nail fellow students with a lancing blow to the head in a heated game of dodgeball.

“By this time of the semester, I’m pretty out of it, and I’ve always used this as a good escape from the grind, but I was too slow to get on a team this year,” said UAA senior Ryan Balderson.

The challenge has been a mainstay at the university for 25 years and is widely popular among students who participate in the intramural athletic circuits, varsity athletes in the offseason, and students who are just looking for some friendly athletic competition.

“Students look forward to this,” said Intramural Director Julie Foster. “It’s that time of year where breakup is here and things are changing and those who aren’t involved or don’t know much about it then start thinking about how they can put a team together for the following year, or get onto a team this year,” Foster added.

Within a two-week span, six teams of 12 players (six men and six women) will compete in a vigorous round-robin tournament in six different events. Agility and common sense come into play in dodgeball, the challenge’s first event that has quickly became a favorite among challenge participants.

Grace and treading taking center stage as the athletes head into the Wells Fargo Sports Complex pool for a friendly battle of inner-tube water polo. Volleyball and basketball fall under a different set of guidelines – varsity athletes cannot participate in their respective sports – but the contests always prove to bring out the best in them as they cheer from the sidelines.

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Contestants also take to the ice rink to show off their broomball skills. The tug-of-war finale in the gymnasium caps off the event.

The events are refereed by student workers who have experience refereeing in the intramural leagues, Foster said, as well as members of the UAA recreation staff, and by Foster herself if need be.

The events are spread out throughout the week with contests starting as early as 8 a.m. and finishing as late as 7 p.m.

But with 12-person teams, only on rare occasions do teams forfeit.

Each team is designated with a team color and T-shirt, which becomes their uniforms. Team names are typically more colorful. This year’s field will pit the likes of The Spartans, The BAMFs, PE by Nerlands, The Apocalypse, Grape Ape, and Gary.

Opening-round matchups in dodgeball begin April 3 at 5:30 p.m. in the Wells Fargo Sports Complex gymnasium.