Two teams of seven face each other on either side of the CU Rec Center diving well. One group sits poised in green inflatable tubes, the other in blue. All are ready to fight.
On the line is a spot in the intramural championship game and a shot at the grand prize: T-shirts.
The whistle blows, and the calm diving well gives way to stormy seas. Players lean back in their tubes and paddle backwards towards the center of the well, their arms outstretched.
Opponents knock each other over, flip tubes and narrowly avoid hitting the concrete sides of the pool as they battle for control of the ball.
Then, in one swift moment, a blue-tube player hurtles the ball at the green-tubers’ goal. A deafening smack of the ball against the plastic goal-back reverberates across the deck. The score is 1-0.
Play continues as players repeatedly shoot for the goal. Sometimes the ball makes it past the goalie, but the score remains low as only shots that hit the goal above the water are counted. After the first 20-minute half, the score is only 2-2.
While a team can have more members, only seven can play at a time. Guys and girls are about equal in number.
In this particular match, the girls on the blue-tube team, known as Death Hammer, notice some rising aggression coming from the green-tubers.
“We’re just on edge tonight,” says senior environmental design major Lisa Kornblith. “It’s more competitive, more bitchy.”
Kornblith’s teammate, senior psychology major Hannah Fleming, agreed that the play was rougher than usual.
“It’s a lot more intense than any of the games we’ve played so far,” Fleming says. “The flailing, the water flying…”
But that’s the nature of the semifinals: the only way to handle an aggressive team is to be aggressive in return. As the second half begins, a blue-tube teammate shouts for Fleming to fight harder.
“Damn it, I’m flailing as much as I can!” Fleming yells back.
The rest of the game is no friendlier. Death Hammer increases its lead to 2-5, but then the green-tubers go on a rally, closing the gap to 4-5. With just minutes remaining, a blue-tuber launches the ball toward the net and scores, flipping his tube in the process.
Death Hammer is the victor, 6-4.
After the game, sophomore international affairs major and green-tube team member Dillon Dubois said that while his team lost, the match was nothing short of epic.
“It quickly escalates from being very friendly to becoming an intense battle,” Dubois says. “‘Heated would be my adjective.”
Though Death Hammer would go on to fall in its championship game, the team’s intramural adventures are not over yet. The ultimate frisbee season kicks off this weekend, with games on Sunday afternoons at Kittredge Fields.
On the ultimate frisbee field, Death Hammer will get its shot at redemption and its chance to play once again for those beloved championship T-shirts.
For more information about intramural sports at CU, visit http://www.colorado.edu/rec-center/intramuralsports/index.html.
Photo credit: (CU Independent/James Bradbury)
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Caryn Maconi at Caryn.firstname.lastname@example.org.