Intramural teams nurture students’ love of sports outside of school

As a 5-year-old, Matthew Hopgood would spend hours kicking a ball around his backyard. It was then that he realized where he belonged: on a soccer team.

All he needed to do was convince his dad to form a team for him to play on.

“The team would have never happened without me,” Hopgood said. “I am the one who brought it up to my dad.”

When Hopgood started, he was not the best on the team; older kids who had played for awhile were a little intimidating.

“We had a game, and the kids were bigger than me, and they always scored goals,” Hopgood said. “I wanted to do that too. So I tried for one, and I made the goal. That was my first goal, and I was happy, laughing with the other players. We won that game.”

Even though his dad thought Hopgood’s interest in soccer would blow over, eight years later, he is still playing.

I want to do this because it’s easy to make friends because they are there with me on the field,” Hopgood said.   

According to a study conducted by the Physical Activity Council, more than 30 million millennials nationwide participate in team sports. Many students at ROMS can count themselves among those numbers, as they play intramural sports outside of school. Those who participate list many reasons for their involvement, including making friends, the possibility of winning scholarships, and the fact that some sports — including soccer and softball — are not offered at the middle school.

Seventh grader Brooklyn Wildman started playing on a softball league a year ago. She said she was nervous at first; according to Wildman she “couldn’t throw the ball six feet away from me.”

“When I go up to bat, I feel very nervous because I’m afraid I’m going to miss it,” Wildman said.

But her first game proved the skills she had been working on were starting to pay off.

“It was our first game, and I had never played before; I was so nervous,” Wildman said. “I had a feeling that I wasn’t going to hit [the ball], but I hit it really far. I never made it to the base, but I got a teammate home and got us a point.

Wildman said that since she’s the loudest on the team, she often tells her teammates to get ready and where to throw the ball.

“My teammates are cool and it’s fun helping them. The people on the last team helped me, and now I get to help the other new teammates get better,” Wildman said.

Like Hopgood, Justin Bristow is also in soccer. He said he enjoys the camaraderie he finds on the team.

“My teammates are good players, and the players are good sports, and they are good athletes,” Bristow said