Austin Hilliker, Sports Editor
Taken back by a devastating loss in an intramural championship floor hockey game, Rob Thompson’s life was forever changed.
To this day, he and his college friends still don’t talk about it.
Originally from Rhode Island, Thompson took up his college athletic career as a soccer player at Endicott College in Beverley, Mass.
Once soccer season was over, he found himself engulfed in intramural sports. His favorite sport to play was floor hockey. He had never played it before, but loved the new and exciting environment the sport had to offer. It also helped that all his friends were playing it too.
After losing the floor hockey championship game, he felt a connection to intramural sports that he never wanted to let go of.
“Being able to make new friends while participating in these sports was why I loved to play,” Thompson said. “I strongly believe that within intramurals there is something for everyone and I wanted to stay in that environment.”
Fast forward to today and Thompson now works at Pacific Lutheran University in the Department of Recreations. He handles anything and everything outside of the varsity sports at PLU.
For the last two years all recreational sports have been under the control of Thompson, where he pushed to make recreational sports a bigger part of PLU.
Currently there are 36 different opportunities to play in an intramural sport at PLU. There are 15 different sports to choose from in the fall, six sports to choose from during J-Term and another 15 sports to choose from in the spring.
The sports range from flag football to dodge ball and even indoor soccer or softball.
Andrew Cheney is a junior and has participated in intramurals for the last three years. He says that PLU intramurals have given him so many opportunities.
“Playing intramurals at PLU gives me the opportunity to play sports that I was not able to in high school,” Cheney said. “It is an overall great experience and I plan on partaking in intramurals for the rest of my time at PLU.”
In addition, Thompson has even added Live Action Role Playing (LARP) to the list of sports to choose from and is open to add more sports upon reasonable requests from students.
“I’m always open for looking for ways to improve the PLU Recreation student experience,” Thompson said. “If it’s adding a new sport or class, or changing rules, I encourage any student to reach out to me at anytime.”
But it doesn’t stop there.
Thompson also has organized the opportunity for students to participate in other recreational sporting activities, such as Group X, club sports and even outdoor recreation.
Group X is an array of fitness classes and offers students a chance to get out of their dorm rooms and do something active with others.
What’s special about this is that both students and professionals get to lead the sessions.
For instance, there is Yoga with Lisa, Cardio Fusion with Kimber and Turbo Kickboxing with Amanda.
This year, Thompson has been sure other Group X activities stay in students’ minds, as he is also promoting classes for Zumba, Butts and Guts, Tae Bo and more.
These classes offer students a chance to jump in and learn new leadership skills, while also teaching new students and gaining more experience at what they love to do.
Club sports are also a big part of what PLU recreation has to offer.
Currently there are five club sports offered at PLU: Men’s Rowing, Men’s and Woman’s Lacrosse and even Men’s and Women’s Ultimate Frisbee.
Each club sport offers their own unique experience, giving students a chance to learn, grow and explore new abilities.
“[Club sports] provide highly competitive play for athletes seeking an intercollegiate sporting experience,” Thompson said.
“Clubs sports are open to players of all skill levels and prides itself on being great fun while staying highly competitive.”
Lastly, one of the most amazing experiences that PLU has to offer is outdoor recreation events.
These events provide students a chance to go out and participate in activities that involve outdoor leadership, outdoor ethics and wilderness safety. All of these events are created under a cost effective program, while being very well organized.
“Each year hundreds of students participate in Outdoor Recreation trips,” Thompson said. “Outdoor Recreation provides day and overnight trips from kayaking in the beautiful Pacific Sound, to spelunking in the Ape Caves of Mt. St. Helens. Trips are offered almost every weekend and vary in length from one day, to a week long spring break extravaganza.”
This year, groups have traveled to the San Juan Islands, visited Cape Horn, gone horseback riding and participated in many other hikes around the great Pacific Northwest.
The next Outdoor Recreation trip will be in Leavenworth, Wash. where the group will be geocaching and bouldering on May 2-3.
With Thompson controlling the reins of this department, students have found themselves enjoying participating in these activities more than ever before.
The next event that the department of recreation is putting on is coming up on May 8. The event is called “The PLU Color Loop,” where students will race while getting a variety of different colored powders thrown in their direction. The first 300 people to sign up will receive free swag.
Thompson plans to continue to improve the recreation department and hopes that more students will join intramurals in future years.
For more information on the department of recreation, please visit http://www.plu.edu/recreations/.