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MMA and milk miles: Rice students engage with sports


Sergio Karam wins the Wiess College milk mile and celebrates by pouring milk over his head.

Courtesy Peter Stern

By Diego Palos Rodriguez     4/16/24 10:54pm

It’s not uncommon to find yourself walking to Reckling Park to watch the baseball team or to the recreational fields to play soccer. However, Division I and intramural sports are only a sliver of what the greater Rice community takes part in. From cricket to mixed martial arts to milk miles (yes, milk miles), students engage in a variety of sports that are a testament to their past pastimes, new endeavors and the need to destress. 

For Vishnu Sriram, a Will Rice College freshman, cricket was an essential part of his life growing up in India, and he wanted to play the sport even in a new environment.

“When I moved to the U.S. some years back, [cricket] was something that I wanted to bring and share with everyone,” Sriram said. “I just played around and asked people if they had tried out cricket, or would like to try, and welcomed anyone who wanted to try the sport.”

Sriram said the transition was not difficult when he arrived at Rice. 

“Before joining Rice, I met some freshmen on Instagram who were also interested in cricket,” Sriram said. “We started playing cricket around Rice, and as people passing by showed interest and joined in, our cricket community began to grow. Will Rice quad has been a great place for us to arrange some small games and get new people to try out cricket, and we also sometimes head over to Field 2 for bigger games.”

For others, like Jones College senior Bikram Singh,their love for their sports didn’t develop until after getting to Rice. 

Singh began boxing after being taught by another Rice student and then transitioned to training in Muay Thai, leading him to compete in sparring scrimmages around Houston. After being introduced to martial arts, he, along with other undergraduates, founded the Rice Mixed Martial Arts club. 

“I wanted to start an MMA club to give other Rice students the opportunity to learn different martial arts, regardless of their level or prior experience,” Singh said. “I wanted to make a safe space for anyone to learn the fundamentals of different martial arts.”

According to Singh, the process of starting this club at Rice was straightforward, and the club has been able to find space in the Recreation Center to hold practices. Getting equipment funding, however, has been more difficult.

“Rice hasn’t fully been able to provide the resources we needed,” Singh said. “I thought the process of getting club funding [was] really confusing [and] difficult. We’ve been using mats and some gear that the Rec Center already has, but we could really use funding to get gear such as shin guards, Thai pads, focus mitts or wrestling shoes for people to borrow during practice times.”

Rice students have also found other avenues to stay active in a less organized manner. Some students at Wiess College recently competed in a milk mile race consisting of running four 400-meter laps while finishing a servery milk container before each lap. 

“I got the idea for the milk mile from a few friends who had run milk miles in high school,” sophomore Peter Stern, the event’s organizer, said. “After some banter with friends about who would be the best milk miler, I thought it would be fun to go out and actually do it.”

The event had 20 competitors and 15 spectators witnessing the spectacle. According to Stern, everyone completed the race, and the milk mile was a success overall.

“I think events like the milk mile are a great way to destress,” Stern said. “Even though running a milk mile probably isn’t most people’s ideal form of relaxation, it gave me, and hopefully others, something to look forward to. Spontaneous, creative events like these are some of my favorite parts of Rice. I really appreciate how willing people are to show out for things like the milk mile, especially with all the different things people have going on.”

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