Intramural sports provide GVSU students with athletic alternatives
It’s a dream scenario every young kid dreams up when playing in the backyard — dribbling the basketball up the court, the countdown of the clock drowned out by the screaming fans, a crossover on the defender before launching a deep 3-pointer and it’s nothing but net. You get carried off the court, people chant your name.
For many athletes, a chance to compete at the collegiate level never comes to fruition. In order to fulfill that childhood dream and perhaps relive those high school glory days, a different route must be traveled. At Grand Valley State University, there is a way to do that: intramural sports, or IMs as they have more popularly been called.
Intramural Sports is a branch of the campus recreation department. It is open for all students, faculty and staff at GVSU and offers upward of 25 different sports and activities throughout the year. This includes team sports, such as basketball, and non-traditional activities, such as billiards.
“You’ll see the high school athletes that come in and they just want to stay involved,” said John Rosick, assistant director of intramural sports. “We open the door to everybody, yet it is a structured atmosphere. We really try to beat that perception that it is just organized pick-up.”
Since Rosick joined the IM staff in fall 2003, there has been a steady increase in participation. Overall numbers have jumped 25 percent, from about 2,500 to 4,000 students competing each year. Participation in the fall season is greatest as it features flag football and soccer, which bring in the most traffic, while basketball and volleyball are the popular choice in the winter.
Beyond the typical male, female and coed leagues for each sport, there is a housing league that is in its third year of operation and also a Greek league, which began in fall 2011.
Participating in IMs is a way to let loose, bond with friends and meet new people. But those who have been there before see one small task as a minor road block to getting the coveted “W.”
“It’s not difficult to convince people to commit to intramural sports,” said senior Nathan Krafft, IM coordinator for Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. “It can, however, be a challenge to actually get them to be at the game because we are juggling so many different schedules. It’s a challenge, at times, to get seven guys for football or 10 guys for softball.”
Whether you are getting a group together to play soccer or volleyball, or even basketball, team fees are $50 and that money helps support not only the program, but the 80 to 90 individuals employed by Intramural Sports. This includes officials and event supervisors, who are heavily trained regarding the rules and objectives before picking up the whistle.
Just as each student takes competing seriously, so do the officials and event supervisors in getting things right, continually looking for ways to improve and make the IM experience that much better.
“Throughout every game we are evaluating the officials. That’s one of the major things we do on a nightly basis,” said senior Nate Springer, an event supervisor for Intramural Sports. “The way the office looks at us is we are officials first and supervisors second. We have been there in the tough situations and we use our experience to coach them through whatever circumstances there are.”
For the entire IM staff, there is a great deal of passion in what they do.
“We don’t want our students to lose sight that we are not just throwing stripes on people. It is more than that,” Rosick said. “I think students need to know how much we believe in officiating. There is a pride aspect.”
The first entry deadline upon return from Christmas break is Jan. 11 for basketball regular season and indoor soccer.