PNW’s Intramural Sports Program celebrates 70 years

September 16, 2022

Purdue University Northwest (PNW) is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Intramural Sports Program with Intramural Day on September 21. The intramurals program, which offers something for everyone, has been a staple at the university since 1952.

“Intramurals provide recreational fun for everyone,” says Matt Dudzik, assistant athletic director of Intramurals and Facilities. “You don’t need to be an athlete, have played a sport in high school or even be good at an activity. You just have to want to come out, learn to play the game and have fun.”

The official celebration will take place from noon to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, September 21, in the grassy area between the Gyte Building and Lawshe Hall on the Hammond Campus. The event will feature food, music and giveaways. Lawn games, such as bean bag toss and spikeball, will be available for anyone to play. In addition, Zig-E’s Funland of St. John will set up an arena and provide the equipment for rounds of tactical laser tag.

“We have some surprises in store for students, faculty and staff,” says Dudzik. “It’s going to be a fun day on campus with pop-ins and giveaways throughout the day. It’s a way for us to say thank you for all the support over the years.”

Students sit at a table with plates of twinkies in front of them

The Intramural Eating Contest is a favorite among students.

A look back

In 1952, Bob Hayes, a long-time administrator in the athletics department at PNW, began the intramural program with four sports – basketball, baseball, volleyball and ping pong. Since then the program has grown to include more than 40 intramural activities.

“Intramurals are an important part of student life,” explains Dudzik. “Aside from the obvious health benefit, it’s a great way to make connections and meet fellow students. It also provides stress relief and an opportunity to just have some fun. In addition, studies show that intramural programs help contribute to a student’s overall college experience and help with retention.”

What’s your game?

The PNW program features the usual lineup of basketball, volleyball, soccer and dodgeball; however, it also includes many non-traditional and unique offerings as well.

Student lines up a shot at a billiards table

PNW student Jake Ryan participates in a billiard tournament. One of more than 40 activities offered by the Intramural Sports Program.

“Not everyone is athletic or wants to participate in sports activities,” says Dudzik. “We have a variety of people on campus with a variety of interests and we try to make sure there’s something for everyone.”

That something includes activities like baking and eating contests, fishing tournaments, trivia, art competitions and ghost hunting.

“It’s an important program to have on campus because there’s something for everybody,” says Jake Ryan, a fourth-year History major with a concentration in Social Studies Teaching. “There are so many different things to participate in that it’s hard not to find something to be interested in.”

The Portage native first participated in the intramural program by entering an eight ball tournament his first semester at PNW. “Unfortunately, I was a first round exit. But I had a great time, met a lot of cool people and even learned a few things,” remembers Ryan.

“I’ve always loved participating in sports and activities,” says Sarah Aurelio, a third-year Marketing major from St. John. “I wanted to keep active going into college and thought participating in intramurals would be a great way to meet friends and keep active.”

“We try to add a new activity each year,” says Dudzik. “It keeps the program fresh and exciting. It gets people talking about the program and word of mouth is a great form of marketing. Ghost hunting is probably the most unique activity and we added that last spring.”

Dudzik says the ghost hunting event proved so popular that several of the students who participated ended up forming a paranormal club on campus. There are also plans to hold a ghost hunting event again this fall – just in time for Halloween.

Aside from the obvious health benefit, it’s a great way to make connections and meet fellow students. It also provides stress relief and an opportunity to just have some fun.

Matt Dudzik, assistant athletic director of Intramurals and Facilities

Something for everyone

Student poses with a fish

The Intramural Fishing League runs from May to June each summer at various lakes in the Hammond area.

PNW’s intramural program not only provides a variety of activities, it also takes into account the busy school and life schedules of its participants. In addition to the league activities, the program offers one night tournaments and open play events. “It’s important to fit into people’s schedules,” says Dudzik. “Some people can’t commit to a weekly activity, so some of our events are one night only and have no sign-up. If you’re free that night, come on out and join us.”

Ultimately, Dudzik says the goal of the intramural program is to create a memorable college experience for participants. “It’s a way to forget about your studies for a short amount of time, de-stress and have fun with your friends,” says Aurelio. Ryan agrees, “It’s about making new friends, reconnecting with old ones and just having a good time,” he says.

Ryan and Aurelio are both looking forward to the intramural activities planned for this semester. “I already have some of the flyers up on the fridge so I don’t forget,” says Aurelio.

See More Information on Intramurals