By Kevin Hornibrook
In a move signifying a turning point for activity and normalcy at the College, Recreation and Wellness recently allowed in-person practices for intramural sports and clubs to take place on campus in a limited capacity.
Shawn Dean (‘15), the Sport Clubs and Intramural Sports Coordinator, said the College will begin offering practice times to teams and clubs that feel safe doing so. Practices will be limited to 10-person “pods” and will limit sharing of equipment between groups.
The decision to allow in-person practices on March 15 is a step toward traditional intramural sports returning, but Dean says the department is being sure to prioritize safety. Trained staff will monitor the practices and enforce guidelines where they apply. Frequent Covid-19 testing and temperature checks are other tools being utilized in their effort to keep the practices safe.
“I definitely think sports are an outlet for students to get away from class and work demands,” said Dean, drawing from his experience as a member of the College’s class of 2015. The mental health aspect of sports has been in the department’s consideration as they’ve looked to get students involved.
Students interested in signing up for a sport club or intramural team can do so through IMLeagues. The department’s page details the process.
“It’s kind of a wait-and-see approach right now,” he said. “I’m optimistic. Again, it all depends on what situation we’re in.”
The department hopes to continue offering the virtual activities in future semesters in combination with traditional intramural sports and clubs to give students as many interesting opportunities as possible.
“We’re getting excited to offer these programs and we hope students come out and have a good time with us,” Dean said.
Dean also discussed the department’s transformative time through the pandemic. Their primary goal has always been student engagement and providing students with many options to enjoy themselves in a safe manner.
“At first, (engagement) wasn’t too bad because students were looking for an outlet, because they were, you know, inside their homes all day during the pandemic,” Dean said.
The department had to step outside of their usual programming and offered virtual activities like a trickshot contest, trivia, pumpkin carving and a photo contest.
When the fall semester began and more time was being devoted to classes, fewer students were participating in these activities — the product of what Dean called “Zoom overload.”
Through social media polls and questionnaires, the department stayed in touch with the student body and tried to deliver on what ideas they had for such an usual time. They also reached out to other institutions to brainstorm new methods of keeping students active. This feedback has helped engagement return to higher levels.
“It’s been great. With the pumpkin carving we had around 20 [students]. But for this latest photo challenge we had 52 submissions, and I was anticipating around that 20 number again,” Dean said. “It’s great to see the involvement.”
The department encourages students to contact them with any ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.