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Intramurals no turkey, thanks to Traweek

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Traweek measuring a paper plane flight length

The chicken chase. The Lapbusters. The turkey trot. The paper airplane toss.

These are just the few of the multitude of intramural events that Dave Traweek has planned through the years as director of Sylvania Campus’ intramurals. But he doesn’t just direct the events. Traweek is also a willing participant. For instance, a while back, Traweek created a unique paper airplane toss competition.

It was a mad race to build the best airplane. Stacks of paper were grabbed and folded, creased and worked over to find the perfect aerodynamics. Then, from a center point in the Sylvania gym, students and staff alike tried to toss their self-made plane the farthest. One doesn’t need to watch for long to see how important events like this are.

"Why intramurals are important is that they are the first line of athletics at any school," Traweek said. "It’s a chance for people to meet other people outside of the classroom and that includes faculty and staff. It’s important to make it fun and have them do things they’ve never done before."

Traweek has been at PCC coordinating intramurals activities since 1981. Before PCC, he had been an instructor in the College of Forestry for Washington State after serving as a recreation planner for the Alberta province in Canada. Traweek’s father was in the military and traveled all over the country and Canada, but considers Portland home. When Traweek came to PCC he placed his mark on intramurals at Sylvania.

"Any job, no matter what job it is, sort of assumes the personality of the person working there," he said. "And I think that’s what happened."

The events are popular. The walking competitions can attract 90 to 100 people. Most of the time, he’ll get 30-40 competitors and many are return customers. In these unique events, participants compete against their own best times. In the WalkYerBunzOph event, in which participants tally miles walked for a term, more than 600 walkers have participated through the years and have walked 110,227.20 miles (which equals 4.59 times the Earth’s circumference at the equator, or 45.93 percent of the distance to the moon).

Also, students can use intramural events to satisfy physical education electives and many events complement an instructor’s class. Most of the events are free, with the exception of a field trip to a local golf course or to a ski slope.

"The philosophy of the program is that it should be as inexpensive for students as possible," Traweek said. "I cover all costs through student activity fees."

The events reflect the times. Interests change and students and staff change, so Traweek has to change his events accordingly. Some years its racquetball or volleyball or other years people want Frisbee golf or wiffle® ball home run competitions. It’s an approach that has worked since the beginning of time.

"If I knew there was demand for an event, I’d find a way to do it," he said. "Intramurals has been here since the advent of PCC in 1965. We stay with the philosophy that seems to work."

People love it, and so does Traweek. At the airplane toss, Traweek nearly won the competition for longest glide time. On this day, records were broken longest flight (77 feet), glide time (10 seconds) and even shortest flight (one foot). But on this day everyone was a winner and got prizes. It’s how Traweek likes it.

"It’s a way to connect with each other," he said. "The point of intramurals is that it adds to the overall milieu of the college."

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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