Students flock to alcohol-free Night Games

BY JOSEPH BELK | MARCH 29, 2010 7:30 AM

Charlie Anderson/The Daily Iowan
Danny Lemus climbs the rock wall at the Field House during Night Games. The event is an on-campus alternative to drinking.
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University of Iowa senior Miguel Cajipe chose to avoid the downtown bar scene over the weekend, opting instead to compete against other UI students in a volleyball tournament.

Cajipe was one of a host of students who showed up for the monthly Night Games — alcohol-free athletics contests — in the Field House on March 27. University officials hope that such events could help prevent problematic drinking.

“I’m partly regular whenever they have it, [though] they only have it once a month,” said Cajipe, who entered the tournament with his former intramurals team. “[It’s] something else to do besides going downtown.”

Night Games takes place around once a month in the Field House. Organizers say the event provides students an alternative to the bar scene and an opportunity to have fun. As the Iowa City City Council weighs an ordinance that would raise the bar-entry age to 21, UI officials are suggesting increasing substance-free events such as Night Games.

Over the weekend, the promise of free pizza drew many students to the event.

“The free food is a big draw,” said UI senior Molly Golemo, a resident assistant at Rienow Hall.

She encourages her residents to attend Night Games as an alternative to drinking, she said. Around 10 students living on her floor regularly attend.

“It’s kind of part of our job to support Night Games as much as we can,” she said.

The event is also open to nonstudents, and several local families attended on March 27. Younger children ran around, eating pizza and making song requests to the guest DJ. Others waited in line to use the rock-climbing wall.

Each month’s Night Games takes on a different theme, with last weekend’s tournament night occurring once each semester.

UI graduate student Allison Allmon said Night Games organizers are still determining the events for the next event, on April 17.

In the past, Night Games has collaborated with other student organizations to host events ranging from jujutsu, karate, and fencing tournaments to swing dancing and hosting vocal groups.

Emily Pudenz, a UI sophomore on the Night Games staff, said the events see a mix of both regulars and newcomers.

UI dental student Craig Huber was attending his first night games on March 27 and signed up to compete in the volleyball tournament. He came to the event by himself, but the Night Games staff was able to set him up with a team.

Prior to its first game, Huber’s team practiced passing the ball in the hallway. Other teams sat on unfolded bleachers and watched the ongoing games.

“I just came out to have fun and get a little exercise,” Huber said.

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