UTA’s muddiest tradition makes its grand comeback

Then, interior design junior Kristin Velasquez hits the ball during the Oozeball tournament Sept. 27, 2019, on the corner of Summit Avenue and West Fourth Street.

The beloved Oozeball tournament slides back into the spotlight Friday in its muddy glory after being canceled last year.

The Oozeball tournament, mud volleyball, is a campus tradition that occurs on the last Friday of every September, said Drew Barfield, Campus Recreation assistant director for Membership and Technology. The event started in 1989, but went on a hiatus after 2019’s event because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

"The one thing I would say about this event is that it really highlights the diversity of our campus because you just come out and you just see, you know, a whole bunch of people,” Barfield said.  

The first game starts at 1 p.m. and the championship game starts at 5 p.m., he said.

The Oozeball courts are located at Summit Avenue and Greek Row Drive. The grounds maintenance department prepares mud for 10 volleyball courts by breaking the dirt with a bulldozer and adding water, Barfield said. Then they line the courts with topsoil bags to act as the boundary.   

Because it’s an outdoor event, the department isn’t concerned with COVID-19 protocols, he said. UTA has no mask mandate, but there’s going to be space for people to social distance and there’s lower participation this year, he said.  

There’s 56 teams registered for Friday, he said. In past years about 90 to more than 100 teams had been the norm.  

Hesitancy in participating in a large crowd, being tight on budget and the main participants, student organizations, being hit with a year of limited recruitment are some of the reasons for the low sign ups, he said.

Juan Cordoba, finance junior and Kendo club vice president, is participating with the Kendo Club on Friday. He was disappointed when Oozeball was canceled last year because he had fun the last time he did it.     

“I didn’t know how to play volleyball to save my life,” Cordoba said.

Campus Recreation provides one duct tape roll per team to help players keep their feet from slipping out of their shoes, Barfield said. He recommends students to be mentally prepared to be filthy.

Cordoba said he taped trash bags to his ankles the first semester he played. He recommends players to keep moving because the mud will get dry and make it difficult to move.   

“You’re gonna be like a statue, stuck in the bottom of the mud and then you won’t be able to move,” Cordoba said.   

Cordoba said he’s confident, but he’s not expecting to get first place because he knows there’s plenty of teams that practice.  

“Try not to submerge your head in mud,” he said.    

@MandyHuynh12

news-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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