Intramural Sports Program

Cishella Durling: Hey, everyone. Welcome to another episode of the Student Affairs Podcast series. My name is Cishella Durling and I'm going to be your host today, and I am very excited to introduce to you all. Eric Piernas who is the assistant director of intramural Sports through the Campus Rec Department. And I'm excited to talk about intramural sports today. Why the University of Louisville offers Intramural Sports, how students can get involved and just really get into the nitty gritty details of the intramural sports program. So very excited to talk with Eric. And we're going to jump right on in with my first question and really, if you could just provide an overview of the intramural sports programs at the University of Louisville and highlight how students can get involved.

Eric Piernas: That’s great. First of all, thanks for having me. It’s awesome be part this podcast, be able to spread what we offer for the Intramural Sports program. So yeah, my name's Eric Piernas I'm the assistant director of Intramural Sports at the University of Louisville. I've been in this position for about two years. I've been in the program since 2015, so I have a really vast knowledge of all our intramurals since I was an undergraduate, which has been awesome.

So, our program's really cool. We offer about 34 different unique sports throughout the course of the year, so ends up being roughly a breakdown of about 17 per semester, which is pretty cool. We have everything for like your big team sports such as flag football, outdoor, soccer, volleyball, basketball, your big go-to's or all those sports will be big like four-week leagues plus playoffs that are pretty fun.

We also have like your fun little one-week-long tournaments. Such as wallyball. We do bubble ball, we have wiffle ball, kickball, things like that. Just to make it a little more fun. I mean, and let's say you're not somebody that doesn't have a ton of people on campus. We also do some fun one-day events that you don't necessarily even have to sign up for in advance, such as we do three-point contests. We’ll bring out pickleball on Friday. They have open play. We sometimes we have like those big blow-up inflatable hamster balls and play bubble ball in our mac court in our facility that just sort of come in play have a good time and things like that. So, we try to do everything that our students want to have a good variety for all our students at different levels. And everything we do for our program is from what students want. So, we try to make sure we're at the perfect design for everything that our students are interested in.

Cishella Durling: Wow. That is surprising to know that there are so many different sports offered and all different like levels of activity. You know, you're really engaged in sports. There's something for you. If you just want to try it out, there's also something for you. So that's really cool that the university Campus Rec offers such a variety of sports. Okay. So, my next question for you: are there any specific initiatives or support structures in place within the university to encourage student participation and engagement in intramural sports?

Eric Piernas: Yeah. So, what we offer, and we tell our students, a lot of our population at the moment is our Greek life. So, they have a really good flow of students participating in all our sports that are big back on the program. But we also try to reach out to all our different groups around campus, whether it's like through the International Center or School of Business. Just get anybody involved that wants to play intramurals and things like that. So, we're always posting on our social media what we have coming up or do some interest meetings about what students would like to bring to campus so we can try to have those and have something for everybody as well.

One of the cool things that we have for the university is for our intramurals, about 99% of them are going to be free for students. So, with the student rec fee that students pay for the fees, the gym that covers basically all their intramural costs for the course of a year, the only ones you may ever have to pay for things we go off campus for.

So, example, we'll do a golf scramble or bowling. We do Putt Putt sometimes. So those would be events where we have to go off campus and reserve space that someone had to pay for. But we try to make it as easy as possible for our students so they can just show up to the game, play whenever they want to play and be gone and continue on what they have to go on and do. It's been awesome being at this university just because they do care about intramurals, and we do have a really big population that really enjoys it and it's definitely steadily been rising coming out of COVID as everything has gotten back to normal as we like to see.

Cishella Durling: Well, being an athletic institution—I think it makes sense to have a really solid intramural program. I mean, we're already attracting a lot of young athletes, so making sure that they have opportunities to engage in sports and athletics in a manner that is fun. I think just goes to show that the university, like you said, really does care about the health and well-being of the students. So, my last question for you is maybe you could share some notable stories or experiences that students have had who have participated in intramural sports and how that has contributed to their overall growth and well-being.

Eric Piernas: Absolutely. I think I have about two or three stories I can tell you. I know something that's really cool for one of our students and how we offer our programs for intramurals, for all our big team sports, we have a free agent tab. So, if you like basketball, if you don't know a lot of friends on campus --know a lot of people on campus you can act as a free agent. And how that works is teams can pick you up or add you to their roster or what happens a lot of the time is I'll go in and make free agent teams. So, some of the cool things about that pre-COVID, I knew some teams that I helped put together that didn't know anybody on campus at all. They played one sport together. They end up being friends throughout their four years at UofL, I reached out to them, so I contacted them. Some of them were like friends that they're at each other's weddings, things like that. So, it's really cool because it brought people together that they might have never met before, but intramurals made them want to play sports, had them introduced to new people and things like that, which is really awesome. That's what we want to do as a program because intramurals is all about bringing people together and having some of that get away from school and those stressors, things like that. You want to have you relax and have a good time and meet some new people, which is at the core of intramurals, that was a really cool story for the first one, another story about student.

So, we've since 2017, 2018, we've been working with Special Olympics Kentucky and offering a unified sports program so that-- what unifies sports is, is when you have Special Olympic athletes play games together with unified partners. So, in this instance will be our college students. So, we started off in 20 say 2018, with a 44-basketball tournament that worked really well. We had students that got to introduce them and shoot with the athlete and got to work with them and they have a great time. And now fast forward to 2024, the program's only grown, so we have a full 44th tournament that we do in the fall semester that we partner with the women's basketball team where they come out and coach us has been really awesome.

We do a Five-by-Five basketball league in our springtime, and Saint has a normal basketball league for Unified, and those teams have had a lot of success and met a lot of cool people. One of the athletes is named Corey Pittsonberger. We met him — I met him in 2018 when he started with the program. Now he's been involved with it since then, and he works for the department now. He attends UofL as a student, he's on a lot of our staff teams. He's at a lot of our events around campus that have been really awesome and it's something when we first met him, like I'll say, "Hi Corey, how are you doing?" He would say “good” and that was the conversation we had with him and now seeing him where he is now in 2024 is almost like we can't get him to stop talking that he's opened up that much to us just from playing intramurals and getting to know everybody. And that's something that we love to have with Special Olympics and have that partnership because it opens up people to new opportunities that they didn't know about. We've had an opportunity to send teams to travel to different tournaments across the country. So, we've got teams, that've gone to Ohio State, Wichita State. Last spring we sent a team to the University of Maryland to play in unified basketball tournaments. It was pretty awesome.

We had a team in 2022 over the summer. They went to the USA Games for Special Olympics in Orlando, and we got to take four students down there and they had a great experience just to meet athletes from across the country, partners from across the country that they might never have met. And it's something that was very rewarding. And it opened up their eyes a lot to opportunities that are out there outside of intramurals and just what you can do.

Cishella Durling: That's awesome. I think it just goes to show how mindful and inclusive the University of Louisville is at being, considering that they're really trying to engage with diverse populations and get a variety of students involved in the intramural programs because it's beneficial, you know, we want to take care of the whole student. Of course, we want to provide them with opportunities for education and learning. And that looks like being active and engaged in sports. There's a lot to be learned from engaging in those type of environments. So, I think it's great that Campus Rec really invests in the intramural sports program and that they're building partnerships that can create lasting experiences for students who engage within the intramural sports program. So, thank you so much, Eric. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us about intramural sports and how students can get involved. And we're going to go ahead and wrap this up with did you know that if you want to get more involved with intramural sports, you can check them out at their website, which is And you can see the different types of intramural sports programs and some of the other things that is going on within Campus Rec as well. So again, thank you, Eric, for your time today. And we're going to go ahead and wrap that up, everyone, and hopefully we'll see you next time.


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