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Opportunity to participate in intramural sports is here

Competitors line up as a member of the 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron basketball team readies himself to attempt a free-throw shot during the 2015 Intramural Basketball Championship Game at Malmstrom Air Force Base’s Fitness Center Feb. 18. This year, more than 1,000 Team Malmstrom members have participated in intramural sports. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt)

Competitors line up as a member of the 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron basketball team readies himself to attempt a free-throw shot during the 2015 Intramural Basketball Championship Game at the Malmstrom Air Force Base Fitness Center Feb. 18, 2015. More than 1,000 Team Malmstrom members participated in the 2015 intramural sports season. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt)

Tech. Sgt. Mark Bruggeman spikes a ball to the opposing team in the final Montana Air National Guard Vigilantes volleyball game played during season playoffs held at the Malmstrom Fitness Center on May 14, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson)

Tech. Sgt. Mark Bruggeman, Montana Air National Guard member, spikes a ball to the opposing team in the final volleyball game played during season playoffs held at the Malmstrom Fitness Center May. 14, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson)

Airman 1st Class Taylor Dunlap, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron technician, makes a catch resulting in a 10- yard gain during one of the last plays of a flag-football game Oct. 17. This year’s flag-football season has had the best turnout, with more than 100 players participating. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt)

Airman 1st Class Taylor Dunlap, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron technician, makes a catch resulting in a 10-yard gain during one of the last plays of a flag-football game Oct. 17, 2013. The 2013 flag-football season had more than 100 players participating. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- The Air Force Intramural Sports Program is a cornerstone of morale and camaraderie for thousands of active participants across the globe. With more than 120 Air Force fitness centers worldwide, the ability for Airmen to participate in intramural sports is a welcome opportunity for those with a love of sports and the urge to compete.

At Malmstrom Air Force Base, the fitness center offers military members softball, flag football, basketball and volleyball along with sports such as bodybuilding competitions year-round to satisfy Airmen's athletic activities.

"Intramural sports or 'Core Sports Programs' promote organized sports and espirit de corps," said Staff Sgt. Kyle Fritz, 341st Force Support Squadron sports director. "The installation commander determines participation which may include active-duty Airmen, National Guardsmen and reservists assigned to installation units."

According to Fritz, active-duty military personnel always have first priority in intramural sports participation. The program is unique because it gives each squadron the opportunity to compete with one another in friendly, safe competition.

"Many Airmen, the average being 200 to 300 personnel per sport, come out to participate," said Fritz. "We feel that the intramural program provides a fun, team building physical activity for people to compete in.

"Sometimes serious teams come out to compete," he continued. "Other times, teams come out to have fun and enjoy socializing with each other away from the workday uniform. Team building is one of the many aspects of the ISP that we like seeing the most."

The program strives to provide a common interest for people who may not otherwise associate with each other.

For Malmstrom's sports director and assistant sports director, the best feeling according to them is when a team comes together and starts playing as a team instead of individually, and there is a noticeable change in the way teammates act, play and treat each other.

"Sometimes there aren't opportunities to build unit camaraderie in the office space," said Fritz. "The sports program definitely provides that opportunity for many squadrons and groups of people."

For the sports program to operate smoothly and be of the best value to Airmen, the program is set up to mirror the structure of a squadron.

"The top of the chain is the fitness center director," said Senior Airman Brian Roupp, 341st FSS assistant sports director. "Second in the chain is the sports director and lastly is the assistant director. We along with our squadron representatives make up the Sports Advisory Council. We market information on each sport to the sports representatives and they disseminate that information to their squadrons."

The Sports Advisory Council meets once each quarter to discuss upcoming events, plan for the season and brainstorm any new ideas or changes suggested from the previous meetings.

"After the unit sports representatives get their coaches in order, we work with the squadron team coaches on the details of that particular sports season," said Roupp. "They manage their team in all aspects from conduct and attendance, to providing referees for the season games.

"At the end of the season, we take a number of the top teams in the league and enter them into a playoff and championship, which is either a single or double elimination bracket depending on how many teams are participating," he continued.

The ultimate goal of Malmstrom's sports director, assistant sports director, personnel, coaches, volunteers and just plain lovers of sports is simple - provide Airmen with the best intramural sports program possible and work hard to accomplish lasting bonds between Airmen on and off the field.

Currently, volleyball is half way through the intramural season with softball being the next upcoming sport, starting in April. Information for those who wish to participate in the softball season will be sent out via email March 23.

For more information about Malmstrom's intramural sports program, contact Fritz or Roupp at 406-731-3600.
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