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Spring intramurals return to campus

As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease up around the country, many New Mexico State University students are getting excited for a previously shut down activity — the return of spring intramural sports.

While official college athletic events are fun to attend, there are many students enrolled in NMSU who do not play for a university team, but still enjoy sports and want to stay active. Recreational sports give these students an opportunity to do so.

NMSU students compete in a recreational sport at the Activity Center prior to the pandemic. Indoor intramural sports returned to campus this month after nearly a two-year hiatus due to COVID. (Photo courtesy of U-REC Intramural Sports)

“A university team is definitely more like a job,” said Maya Trujillo, an intramural sports referee. “School very rarely will come before a university team, because there’s traveling and mandatory practices and stuff like that. Whereas with intramurals, you just show up, play, and have fun.”

Trujillo not only refs intramural games, but plays as well. Although she was recruited to play Division II women’s basketball for multiple schools, Trujillo says that she declined in favor of having a “real” college experience. Instead, she joined intramural sports so she could keep playing the games she loved.

“I feel like a lot of kids are the same way; multi-sport athletes or people who were good in high school and they still wanna play, just not at that level where they have practice every day and a list of things they have to do,” Trujillo explained. “It’s fun; it’s not crazy or anything.”

While all intramural sports were shut down during the pandemic, the outdoor sports were able to return this fall. And now, for the first time since the spring of 2020, NMSU’s indoor recreational sports — including basketball, volleyball, dodgeball and corn toss — are starting up again.

There is one big difference now, however. The mask mandate is still being enforced for all athletes, referees and crowd members inside the Activity Center.

While many of the students dislike the masks, volleyball player Grace Lewis says that they need to deal with the mandate to avoid getting shut down or banned from playing indoors again.

“It kind of sucks because I can’t breathe very well,” Lewis said. “But, you know, I gotta do what I gotta do to be here and play, so we all need to just do it.”

And though the masks may be difficult to play in, Lewis says that this hasn’t deterred her or her friends from returning for intramural sports, and that it’s still one of their favorite things at NMSU.

“I like meeting new people,” Lewis said. “If you’re not an athlete for school, this is your chance to be an athlete. So it’s a lot of fun to meet new people and see old friends and stuff.”

Diezel Lovato, another intramural player, agrees with Lewis. After participating in multiple fall sports, Lovato will continue to play basketball, volleyball and dodgeball this semester, despite the added difficulty of the masks.

He says that the fun of the games and the competitive, yet friendly nature of the sports outweigh any problems that the masks might create. Because of this, Lovato says that he recommends intramural sports to anyone who is considering joining.

“Definitely join,” he said. “If you like to have fun and compete, come play.”

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