Sometimes the non-traditional intramurals in your rec center get people talking the most. That’s what Purdue University Northwest has learned firsthand.
“Our program motto is ‘What’s Your Game?’ because we have something for everyone,” said Matt Dudzik, the assistant director for Intramurals and Facilities. “We like to think we have one of the most unique programs in the country.”
Non-traditional Intramurals Include:
- Baking Contest: Food Network Style, with a unique prize for the winner. “One year the contestants made brownies,” said Dudzik. “The winner was given a tour of the historic Palmer House Hotel in Chicago where the brownie was invented. Plus, they were allowed to help prep in their kitchen. This was one of many unique prizes with this contest.”
- Intra Mural (art contest): Contestants draw their picture on paper and submit. There is a theme each year. “The winning drawing gets painted on our running track wall,” said Dudzik. “It’s a way to leave your legacy behind.”
- Bubble Soccer
- Eating Contest: Hostess Cupcakes or Twinkies with the coolest trophies.
- Ghost Hunting: Teaming up with a Paranormal Organization in the area, the department did ghost hunting on campus. Teams were assigned a building on campus. Each team was given two to three members of the Paranormal group. The group provided all the ghost hunting equipment from infrared cameras, spirit boxes and motion detectors. “After the one hour in their building we met back in the school cafeteria to debrief and discuss our findings,” said Dudzik. “Winners were based on best evidence or photo captured.”
Dudzik explained they look to offer something new each year. This is great marketing for the intramurals program. “The more unique and new events you add the more your program stays visible on campus and talked about,” he said.
EXTRA CREDIT: Take a look at five unique programs various campus recreation centers are offering students, faculty and staff around the U.S.
Below, Dudzik shared a more in-depth look at offering non-traditional intramurals on one’s campus:
Why do you have non-traditional intramurals?
MD: I always want to keep the students and staff talking about the program. When they first saw a baking contest and mural contest, it had a lot of people talking and nothing beats word of mouth advertising. It is sometimes the best form and cheapest form of marketing.
How did your non-traditional intramurals come about?
MD: This came about when I was trying to come up with a shirt design. We give an intramural shirt each year to participants, and I wanted to add a picture frame with all the different games we offer. The shirt was like a mural which made me think of doing a mural contest which was our first unique offering. The following year we did a gardening intramural. Teams were given money to a local garden store and had to stay within budget and design and plant a garden on campus. Judges determined the best garden based on design and use of the money they were given
What’s the benefit to having unique offerings in your intramurals program?
MD: Not only does it keep your program fresh, it also offers activities to those who aren’t into sports but want to be competitive in something they can do — like bake, garden or fish
Plus, many of these activities some students may have never done before or would ever do unless presented to them. Most of the students who did the ghost hunting never did a paranormal activity before. Even with the combat archery a lot of the students never shot a bow before, so we are providing them a memory of a lifetime.
Why do you look to add something new each year? And how do you decide what to add?
MD: It keeps the program fresh when you add something new each year and students look forward to seeing what’s the new game. Sometimes it’s students recommending something new. Other times its studying new trends in the industry like combat archery and bubble soccer, or its just looking to come up with something creative
Any lessons learned/tips for other directors looking to get unique in this area?
MD: To always think outside the box and be creative with your offerings. It may even be just changing the format of current leagues or one-night events to make it more exciting or having a cool prize for the winner. One year, I reached out to Billiards Magazine to see if they would post the winner of our league in their magazine. They were all about posting. This made it more enticing when students were signing up for the league to know this was one of the prizes