One of the great things about the University of Wyoming is that there are plenty of ways for students to pass the time during our long winters. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of being aware of some of the activities that UW and the surrounding area have to offer.
Especially for incoming freshman, it can be tough to learn about some of the things you can be doing with your time. One of most popular activities among students is to get involved with intramural sports. There is a huge variety of different sports to choose from here at UW.
Intramural sports are available to all UW students, faculty, staff and spouses as long as they have access to Half Acre Gym. Intramurals provide a great opportunity for individuals who played sports in high school and may not have been able to or wanted to play at the college level. It gives them a chance to continue to play the sport that they love.
However, don’t be mistaken and think you need to be some kind of former high school all-star to play intramurals. Each sport has competitive and recreation leagues to join, so you can make the choice based on your own skill. There are team, individual and dual competitions, plus with several sports, you have the option to join a co-rec team, which includes men and women.
Intramurals are incredibly popular here at UW, especially after the renovation of Half Acre Gym. With addition of two new basketball courts, not to mention the various other new amenities, UW has more options for programming space. This has allowed for sports like 5-on-5 basketball, which is a spring sport, to field more teams. Five-on-five basketball is UW’s most popular intramural sport, which usually has around 150 teams.
A few more of the popular intramural sports here at UW are flag football (around 80 teams), outdoor soccer (around 80 teams), volleyball (around 75 teams) and one of my personal favorites—inner tube water polo. As you can see with that last one, not all of our intramurals are hyper-competitive—some are more geared towards just having a great time.
Although, if you were looking to play a sport at a bit more of a serious level, UW has a wide range of club sports for students to join as well. The difference between club sports and intramural sports is that instead of competing against other teams within the university, club teams are competing against clubs from other universities. Club sports are more involved than intramural, because teams are practicing, traveling and competing similar to a D-1 sport.
Just like intramurals, club sports are extremely popular at UW. The two big winter sports that UW offers are hockey and Nordic skiing. The hockey team not only provides an opportunity for hockey players to continue playing, but it gives hockey fans in Laramie a great opportunity to watch quality hockey right here in town.
Nordic skiing is not only one of UW’s most popular club sports, but it has also been incredibly successful. The team won the men’s national championship and were women’s national runner-up last year and will represent the United States in Kazakhstan for the World University Games in January.
While those are the two sports that mainly compete during the winter here at UW, there are several other club teams that compete in the fall and spring, but will practice and still be in season during the winter. A couple of UW’s other popular club teams are the rugby, equestrian and shotgun teams.
UW men’s rugby team qualified for sevens nationals last year, while the equestrian team is constantly traveling to compete in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. For more of a home-grown sport, the shotgun team is also a very popular option for students.
Yes, one of the biggest reasons that club and intramural sports are so important is because they provide sporting opportunities for such a wide range of students, but Club Sports Director Adam Burke has a bit of a different take on it.
“It’s all about participation,” says Burke. “When we look at the numbers of students who participate in recreation programming—whether that’s intramurals, clubs, fitness classes or outdoor programs—students who participate are more likely to graduate. And there are a lot of reasons—you build a network, you make friends, you better identify with the university—that’s what I think is important.”
Not only does UW offer great opportunities, but the area surrounding Laramie offers some incredible chances to get outside and enjoy yourself. Snowy Range Ski Area is only about 40 minutes from Laramie, and even though it may not be the size of mountain resorts such as Steamboat or Winter Park, the affordability and proximity makes Snowy Range a perfect little ski resort for college kids.
Another luxury that UW students have is access to the Outdoor Program. For those of you who are regularly making trips to the mountains, you should look into this. The Outdoor Program provides students with the chance to rent skis, snowboards, snowshoes, bicycles, backpacks and even more right here on campus.
You don’t have to go to the ski resort to play in the snow, though. A lot of people snowmobile and snowshoe in the Snowy Range during the winter, and the Happy Jack Area is a popular destination for cross country skiing. Personally, if you are going uphill in snow, I’d recommend being on a ski lift or on something motorized. But no matter what, you will still see cars pulled off the road with snowshoe tracks trudging off into the trees.
Like most things, the winter in Laramie is going to be as fun as you make it. Yes, it does get cold and windy here sometimes, but that doesn’t mean you have to shut yourself in your house or apartment all winter. Enjoy the opportunities that you have here in Laramie, because you really do have a unique combination of things to do.