Intramurals race to the top at UNL

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Text & Video Story by Caleb Dohmen, NewsNetNebraska

“He’s to the ten, he’s to the five, and IT’S A TOUCHDOWN.”

When people in Nebraska hear this, they instantly think Husker football, but what they might not think of is something else that is big at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Flag football is a huge deal at UNL. Teams gather from around the university to play once a week during the fall semester. They team up with their friends, resident halls, Greek houses, or just anyone who wants to play together. They play in different leagues and they are broking up within that league. And by the end of the year, if they go on and win the championship, they have a chance to play in the regional tournament against other teams around the Midwest. And if they win there, they can go and compete in Nationals.

Besides flag football, there are over 54 programs that happen throughout the year for men, women and coed teams or individuals. The events range from flag football and basketball to battleship and pitch tournaments.

Intramural office is located at the UNL Rec Center.

“I make sure that we have everything set up for the event,” Ron Millers said, who is the assistant director of UNL’s intramural program. “I make sure we have the building, making sure the teams come to play, making sure officials are there, set up the dates and schedules and keep track of the stats.”

Intramurals run throughout the whole academic year at UNL. There is about 7,500 students that participate in intramurals; Miller said that 35 percent of the student body competes. Miller says there are wide ranges of people who compete in intramurals from Husker athletes to marching band members.

“They play to re-live their old playing days,” he said, “playing with friends, just the fun of competing for something again, maybe even a stress reliever and for some the prize at the end.”

When a team wins, let’s say at flag football, they get a picture that goes into the “Wall of Champions” for intramurals, they win a t-shirt that says they are champs and they also have a chance to play in the regional tournament and have a chance to win at the national tournament. But this is relatively unknown to the Nebraska public and to students who don’t compete in intramurals.

“Nope, I have never heard of the regionals,” freshman flag football player James Robinson said, “I thought that the season ended here.”

Even players like Robinson have no idea that they have a regional tournament that Nebraska hosts and the teams have a chance to go and compete at the national tournament. And Miller has been a big part of making the regional tournament a huge thing in Nebraska. He has almost single handedly made it what it is today. It used to not be very big but Miller has made it big.

Ron Miller worked as the Kansas State Intramural Director before coming to UNL in 1999.

“We send out 500 invitations to schools across the Midwest,” he said. “The teams get in free if they won at their university or they have to pay $150 as an entry fee.”

The national tournament for intramurals will be hosted by the University of New Orleans in New Orleans, La from Dec. 28-31. They four spots open for competition are men’s collegiate, women’s collegiate, co-rec and the open division with about 16 teams in each division. They do a bracket style tournament and they will play two games no matter what.

Nebraska is one six universities that hosts a regional tournament for flag football and it is the only regional tournament west of the Missouri River. Even though Miller has helped make the regional tournament a big deal around here, there is one thing that he does hope to change while he is the director of intramurals.

“I hope to reduce the number of forfeits we have,” he said, “we have too many and that seems to be a big problem around the United States when you go and talk at national conferences.”

D-Unit, flag football team at UNL, went to the National Tournament and got second last year. Courtesy of Ron Miller.

He said the big reason being is that the teams don’t let him know when they are going to not be there for the game. So the other team is left at the field and the end up winning by forfeit. He said that he wants teams to be more responsible to make sure that they are able to attend the games and if they can’t, just let him know they can’t make it because it is a big waste of everyone’s time.

The intramural program at UNL has always been big and Roger Miller has helped make it better. Besides the prizes you receive after you win the tournament, who wouldn’t want the title of being the best college flag football team in the nation. But whatever the reason, just being able to remember their old playing days in high school or to pretend that you they are Tommie Frazier scoring the game winning touchdown or Tiger Woods sinking the winning shot, it is fun to compete in intramurals. And maybe in their heads as the score, they can hear the announcer in their heads shouting “TOUCHDOWN!”

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