Jumping into the kick of it

BY MITCH SMITH | AUGUST 25, 2009 7:05 AM

UI Recreational Services is expecting a different type of flood this year: a deluge of students rushing to Hubbard Park from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for the ninth-annual Kickoff Classic.

“Numbers last year were down significantly from the previous years because of the flood and the closing of the IMU,” said Dan Payne, a Recreational Services graduate assistant. “The reason the Kickoff Classic is held at Hubbard Park is because it is right next to the IMU, and there is usually a lot of pedestrian traffic in that area of campus.”

Despite the IMU being closed this time last year, the event was held at Hubbard Park and drew an estimated 300 people.

In 2001, Recreational Services created the Kickoff Classic as a way to showcase intramurals to UI students and staff.

“It really started as a promotional event for just intramurals,” said Mike Widen, an associate director of Recreational Services. “Since then, it has really evolved into a showcase of the entire Recreational Services Division.”

The Kickoff Classic introduces the UI students and staff to everything Recreational Services provides. While intramural sports are the focus of the Kickoff Classic, information about other aspects, including outdoor adventure classes, the Macbride Nature Recreation Area, fitness and wellness, and club sports, will be available as well.

Students in attendance will have the opportunity to play bags, golf, and basketball, as well as participate in a new intramural event — punt, pass, and kick.

“Adding a football event such as punt, pass, and kick is a great way to promote the upcoming college football season, as well as the start of intramural flag football,” Widen said.

In addition to receiving a Kickoff Classic T-shirt and refreshments provided by PowerAde, punt, pass, and kick participants will have two attempts at punting, passing, and kicking down a straight line. The varying distance to the left or right of the straight line will be subtracted from the participants’ score.

The man and woman with the highest combined punt, pass, and kick distances will receive an intramural sports champion T-shirt and the pride of knowing that he or she is the best punter, passer, and kicker on the Iowa campus — other than those on the Hawkeye football team, of course.

“Punt, pass, and kick was an easy choice because our staff remembered it fondly from our youth,” said Payne, who recalled finishing second in a punt, pass and kick event during his grade-school years. “We really wanted to add another simple, football-related competition.”

Established in 1961, Punt, Pass and Kick is the oldest NFL youth program and one of the world’s largest sports participation programs, according to the NFL Punt, Pass, and Kick website. There are 29 NFL youth competitions in Iowa alone.

“The Kickoff Classic is a great way for new students to get involved at the university,” said Ross Bower, an intramural supervisor. “It gives them an opportunity to experience what the intramurals department has to offer.”

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