Modde and her winning soccer team. (Photo courtesy of Modde).

Growing up, sports were at the center of most childhoods. For many, sports were what kept their weekends busy. The dream of playing in college or professionally ran through their heads and for many this was their way of life.   

However, for many, this dream came to an end after they had received their high school diploma.

While this is the cruel reality of sport, many colleges across the U.S. have provided students with the opportunity to play in intramural leagues. Intramurals are recreational leagues that are organized by a university. The sports that are offered range anywhere from soccer to Mario Kart tournaments. This range of events offered, allows for everyone to find something they would enjoy.

For many sports goers who never made it to the collegiate level, this is the perfect way to stay involved, stay active and allow them to continue their athletic career through a game they have loved their whole life.

Mackenzie Modde, a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has stayed involved during her four years by playing intramurals. Throughout her childhood she quickly fell in love with soccer. Modde played club soccer for Gretna Prima and was a stud player in high school at Skutt Catholic. She went on to win two state championships, during her time at Skutt.

“Participating in sports before college helped me develop character and learn how to perform with rigor and I created friendships with my teammates,” Modde said. “Sports have significantly impacted my life because they have taught me what it means to persevere and challenge myself in many aspects whether it be physical endurance or doing the right thing.”

While Modde hoped to continue her athletic career after high school, she realized this would not be possible as she wanted to attend UNL to get a degree in architecture.

Although she did not play Division I soccer, after she arrived on campus and got into the swing of school, to her surprise soccer wasn’t completely out of the picture.

“I knew that coming to college would be a difficult challenge as I am a homebody,” Modde said. “Intramurals have been a way for me to connect with my past but still engulf in my journey towards the future.”

Modde said she has loved every second of her time playing intramurals. During her time at UNL she participated in soccer, volleyball, dodgeball, kickball and sand volleyball.

She also held the position as intramural chair for her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, during her freshman, sophomore and junior years. Through this position, Modde got other members involved, including sophomore Julia Flores who now holds this position.

Flores is from Kansas City. Early in her freshman year, she quickly got involved on campus as she joined Kappa Alpha Theta and got involved with intramurals.

Flores said she played two years of golf in high school as well as two years of soccer. She played club soccer from the age of 12 to 18.

Flores said she said she immediately knew coming to an out-of-state school she needed to get involved in something.  Intramurals allowed her to meet new people right away and stay fit. Flores said she joined teams for dodgeball, kickball, volleyball, indoor/outdoor soccer and golf scramble.

She has made friends while playing in these leagues, but has also stayed in shape and kept healthy. The exception was one scary experience where Flores fell to the turf with a knee injury. 

“I was playing mid game, made a few cuts with the ball and immediately my knee popped and gave out,” Flores said.

After she stepped off the field, she returned to the game and did not think much of it. Her mom took her to the doctor. Doctors told Flores she had torn her ACL and meniscus in her knee.

“I got surgery in late June so it will be a year from surgery in a month,” she said. “This past month I felt comfortable and confident enough to try to play again and had a very successful co-ed team that went on to win the championships.”

While she faced a big setback and injury, Flores stepped out on the field and encouraged each person to get involved in the same way. She said intramurals can be a very valuable part of someone’s college experience because it allows them to be a part of a community and team outside of the classroom to give them a more well-rounded college experience.

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Flores and her winning team after coming back from her injury. (Photo Courtesy of Flores)

While Modde and Flores now have two and four years of intramural games experience, Kenzie Kallweit, a freshman, decided to get in on the action as well. Kallweit said she had played tennis a few times prior, but in college she decided to try out tennis in a more competitive scene.

Her biggest take away from this experience was she gained a best friend from her doubles partner, a freshman in her sorority.

“I did not know her very well before we started playing, however, during the tournament we placed second and had gotten so close,” Kallweit said. “While doing well in tennis was great, it was even cooler to gain a best friend from the experience.”

Kallweit said she never expected that she would play tennis in college. She said she wants to continue playing for her next three years while in college. While, she did not have the experience like Modde and Flores had going into their intramural leagues.

Kallweit said intramurals allowed her to stay involved and not fully give up her involvement from high school.

“I think sports impact college students’ lives a decent amount,” Kallweit said. “For me personally it was hard letting go of all my highschool activities so doing intramural tennis was a fun way to have that feeling of competing again.”

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Kallweit takes the court with her tennis partner. (Photo courtesy of Kallweit).

This feeling is one that many people, including all three of these women have discussed.

That is the beauty of intramurals. No matter what your level of experience consists of, there is something and room for every person.