College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Graduate students experience intramural sports at Iowa State for the first time

Shoaib Ahmed and Jia Liu holding a ball inside the gymnasium
Shoaib Ahmed and Jia Liu holding a ball inside the gymnasium

The Intramural program at Iowa State University offers over 40 sports to meet the diverse interests of the student, faculty, and staff.  

Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering international graduate students Shoaib Ahmed and Jia Liu got the opportunity to participate in intramurals at Iowa State for the first time, as they rarely had the chance to participate in organized sports back home.

Ahmed attended Iowa State because he wanted to carry the legacy of his mentor professor in Pakistan, who earned his Ph.D. from ABE at Iowa State University 25 years ago. Back at home, he never tried sports because other values played a significant role in growing up.

“I always wanted to participate in sports,” Ahmed said. “But back home, there were not a lot of opportunities because my work life was always demanding, so I rarely used to play games back home.”

Shoaib Ahmed serving volleyball outside

Liu was fortunate enough to participate in a few sports growing up but rarely participated in any organized sports. Her advisor, Adina Howe, and a few folks in ABE invited her to join the volleyball, soccer, and broomball teams.

“I did have the chance to participate in sports such as swimming, skating, and tennis but not many organized sports,” Liu said. “Trying intramurals for the first time was a great experience because I rarely participated in organized sports. I was afraid that I would make the teams lose. But my teammates told me it’s not about winning the game but having fun with friends.”

Jia Liu kicking soccer ball across the field

People participating in intramurals often get overly competitive and lose sight of what’s important. The Intramural Program at Iowa State prides itself on sportsmanship and providing activities for people of all levels and abilities. Liu and Ahmed didn’t care whether or not their teams won or lost because they saw intramurals as a great way to bond with friends and make new ones.

 “I think intramurals brought us all together,” Liu said. “I became friends and got closer with all my teammates I participated with, and it was genuinely a fun and unique experience for me.”

Soccer ball sitting still on the field

Even for Ahmed, he gained a few valuable skills from participating in intramurals for the first time. 

“It helped me get the confidence to communicate and expand my social circle,” Ahmed said. “I will always remember the friends I made along the way from this experience.”