Intramural clubs offer world of culture, experience to UH students
More than 25 intramural sports leagues and clubs on campus are available to all UH students and allow them to experience the competitiveness, excitement and camaraderie that joining a sports club entails. There are more traditional sports leagues such as volleyball, rugby and soccer for both men and women.
There are also unique clubs for those who are looking to try new things, like Roarin’ Raas, Wushu Kung Fu or Cougar Kendo. These are not usual intramural clubs. Instead of competing in sports like basketball or soccer, they dance and perform martial arts.
“We are a team founded on happiness, family, passion, resilience and discipline,” said co-captain of Roarin’ Raas Anushka Iyyangar in an email. “Our club provides an outlet to express yourself through dance, music, art and to join the proud Roarin’ Raas family.”
Roarin’ Raas celebrates Indian culture through traditional dances and is unlike any other sports leagues offered on campus.
“Raas/Garba is a Gujarati dance form that emerged through celebration, color and happiness during Navratri, which is a very auspicious time of the year for Indians and everyone in the world,” Iyyangar said.
The group, founded in 2011, has competed against roughly 85 Raas circuit teams in the nation during many competitions and has been to the national finals for the last five years in a row.
“This year, our goal is to create a fun, energetic routine that will surprise audience members around the nation,” Iyyangar said. “We want to make every person who is affiliated with our team proud to represent Roarin’ Raas.”
Not just dance
Students have a variety of options when it comes to choosing a club. They can join a group that provides different opportunities like learning and engaging in a new culture or simply exercising in a different way.
Wushu Kung Fu club, a martial arts group that practices in the Campus Recreation Center on Mondays and Wednesdays, is a club for students who practice martial arts, but they primarily focus on growing in the art of Wushu.
“There’s a big sense of accomplishment when you can finally do that jump or know that form by memory,” said Wushu Kung Fu member Abigail Nava. “It’s a nice bonus to have your Wushu friends supporting you in the process.”
The Cougar Kendo, the largest and most active Kendo Dojo in the Houston area, is a demanding sport and helps participants stay physically and mentally fit.
Kendo is a form of Japanese martial arts in sword fighting based on traditional Kenjutsu. Athletes use bamboo swords, wear armor and spar with each other. They also compete in both local and national competitions.
“Each practice is a good workout and can appeal to those who are seeking to work out in a non-traditional way,” said Cougar Kendo member Rose Nguyen. “We emphasize individual and group development beyond fitness. Team ethic builds the discipline that helps everyone succeed in college and after.”
Open for all
In order to join a sports league, students must sign up with their UH ID and password through the Campus Recreation Portal. To join an intramural club, a student can find contact information online and contact clubs directly for more information.
While these clubs are accessible to all students, some do hold tryouts for their events, like Roarin’ Raas, which held tryouts Monday in the Student Center South.
Even though Roarin’ Rass requires tryouts to join, it also holds fall workshops, which are open to everyone looking to learn about the club and to teach the club’s dance style.
There are more clubs that do not require experience with the sport, and some even prefer beginners.
“Wushu and martial arts is a tough sport to commit to because you’re constantly challenging yourself to learn something new and improve at what you already know,” Nava said. “It’s actually to an advantage if you join without any previous experience because it means that you learn the specific style.”
Overall, intramural clubs are a way for UH students to be active and meet new people.
“We hope those who join learn to grow as individuals supported by a community of great people,” Nguyen said.
Katrina Martinez contributed to this story