Intramural sports program thriving at Portland State

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of intense competition, or that feeling of unity that a team can achieve by learning to work together.

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of intense competition, or that feeling of unity that a team can achieve by learning to work together. Sports can be a lot of fun, and fortunately for students looking for a little recreation, Portland State

offers growing, well-managed and spirited intramural leagues through the Campus Rec


“It’s a chance [for people] to get out and participate in something recreational instead of always having their nose stuck in the books,” said Rusty Vineyard, Campus Rec’s intramural sports coordinator.

Portland State offers an increasingly wide variety of events through its intramural sports program, ranging from flag football to dodgeball leagues. Running throughout the year, the intramural leagues offer numerous sports varying from season to season. Each league usually has about 10 teams participating, with the exception of some of the more popular sports, such as basketball and soccer, which see as many as 20 teams competing in a season.

With a $40 per team entry fee, intramural leagues are a healthy and inexpensive form of entertainment. They are run in an open format, meaning there typically aren’t different competition levels and the league is available to almost anyone as long they are a PSU student, staff or alumni. Teams can be co-ed or single gender, and can be composed of students or teachers, but either way, all teams are usually in the same league and are eligible to play one another.

Vineyard recalls a flag football team called the Bloody Gamecocks, a team that was the product of two teams (the Bloody Knuckles and the Gamecocks) that had merged together because both were short on players. Although they were a mixture of young and old players—essentially a random combination of students, alumni and faculty that were thrown together—the team bonded quickly and went on to win three flag football championships in a row.

“I think everybody took them for granted,” Vineyard

remembered with a laugh.

In four years of working as Portland State’s intramurals coordinator, Vineyard has seen the program develop and evolve quickly. He has also gathered a few interesting stories over the years.

Vineyard said that when he first came to PSU, it was just him and seven game officials at the office. Under Vineyard’s watch, the intramural leagues have since seen a significant spike in participation and now he has two assistants, six supervisors, four scorekeepers, and more than 15 officials around to help out with the leagues.

Staying active and playing sports has been a big part of Vineyard’s life and eventually, his interests became his career. Since 1997, he has been involved with intramural sports in one form or another and still plays today in as many leagues as he can find time for. If you stop by his office and sign up for an activity, there’s a chance you could be playing against his team later that season.

“I want to know that I’m playing the same sports the students are,” Vineyard said. “It helps me to [understand] things at a different level.”

One of his goals is to get students to not only try out the different sports and events that are available, but he also wants them to give their feedback on what’s working or what could use improvement. It’s part of the reason the intramural sports program has been successful in recent years.

“We want to hear from the students,” Vineyard said. “And make it as fun as possible

for them.”

For students who are on the fence about joining a team, the intramural league puts on exhibition nights throughout the year. These events are free and operate similarly to an “open gym” where people can come and play in pickup games, meet new people, and get a sense of the action.

If you don’t have a team, don’t let that stop you from participating. Players without teams are dubbed free agents and can almost always find a team that will welcome them with open arms. Often, they are put in contact with other free agents and will then form their own teams. In the past, Vineyard has even held free agent drafts, where teams will take turns selecting the extra players.

“Even if you don’t know someone with a team, there’s always someone to sign up with,” said Kyle Arntson, a junior at Portland State.

Last year, Arntson ran into an old high school friend on campus who asked him if he’d be interested in playing on her intramural basketball team. Arntson decided to give it a try and is now in his second season of basketball with thoughts of playing soccer or possibly flag football in the near future.

“I was surprised at how organized they were,” Arntson said. “I met a ton of new people and had a great time doing it. The competition was solid and I really enjoyed their facilities.”

Registration for soccer, flag football and dodgeball is available on the Campus Rec website at, and is open through this weekend.

Also, Vineyard and the staff will host a wide variety of competitions and promotional events throughout the year where students can win prizes and other giveaways. Last month, a “Minute to Win It” competition was held, in which selected students were given the opportunity to compete in quick and trivial activities. In the end, the winner was awarded

a $1,000 scholarship donation from Bank of America.

For more information, check out the intramural sports program’s Facebook page at for updates.