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Intramural sports return to Grinnell

Intramural+volleyball+players+on+Cleve+beachs+sand+volleyball+courts+in+2017.+Photo+by+Helena+Gruensteidl.
Intramural volleyball players on Cleve beach’s sand volleyball courts in 2017. Photo by Helena Gruensteidl.

For Grinnellians eager to get moving this spring, new expanded intramural sport offerings are a welcome surprise.

“Grinnellians go to recess,” read an email sent to all students announcing “revamped” offerings that will include badminton, racquetball, indoor soccer, indoor volleyball and basketball.

Tommy Hexter `21, recreation assistant at the College, has been involved in helping to manage intramural sports, GORP and club sports for the past year. He said that one of the major changes made this season to intramural sports after several years of limited play was more options for open, unstructured, gameplay, an idea that he adapted from Columbia University.

“We really emphasize inclusivity, and we want as many people to participate in intramurals as possible. It’s all about wellness, moving, creating community around recreation. And I think there are some barriers to entry when you feel like you need to have a team, and show up every week, and be competitive — that’s kind of a high bar to jump over just to play a sport. So I wanted to offer a lower bar, where there’s a time and a place where you can come and play with a group of other people and that still happens on a weekly basis. But it’s not like you have to be there.” 

But Grinnellians who are interested in some more friendly (or unfriendly!) competition need not fear — team play, the more formal, sports-league type of play, is available for those who would like a little more structure, is still available. 

We really emphasize inclusivity, and we want as many people to participate in intramurals as possible. It’s all about wellness, moving, creating community around recreation. – Tommy Hexter `21, recreation assistant

Jeremy Traw `23, student director of intramural basketball, said that particularly for basketball, volleyball and soccer, there would be options for some student instruction, but that students would largely have the ability to decide how involved they wanted to be in their intramural sport.

Tim Hammond, director of intramural sports and director of Grinnell Outdoor Recreation Program, added in an email that, “Sports are a great place for people to develop problem solving skills, practice dealing with eustress and potentially distress. We also know that movement has significant impact on physical and mental wellness. If these structured activities are what get people involved, then we are eager to provide whatever our community members are looking for to the best of our ability.”

Hexter and Traw also emphasized that recreation could be a site for community among the student body, staff and faculty.

“Just being able to play with your friends and meet new people — that’s obviously great. And sometimes it’s a little challenging if you see a bunch of other guys in the gym, and you don’t know any of them. It’s hard to go and say, ‘Can I play?’ So, having this open gym intramural community, where people can show up, and everyone’s there to play? It just makes the community that much better,” Traw said.

For the busy Grinnellian, Hexter said that intramurals could also be a physical and mental outlet.

“It’s a nice overlap with academic communities,” he said. “It’s the same people that you see around campus, but in a different setting. It’s a chance to add new layers to relationships, and also just enjoy moving around.”

The intramurals staff will continue to evaluate popularity and demand of different sports throughout the semester, adding sign-ups for sports like archery, dodgeball, pickleball, tennis, billiards and others, depending on interest.

Interested participants can register for intramurals or find more information at www.imleagues.com/spa/intramural/b816b5ecf54441ada73d9e6f418378af/home .

Editor’s Notes: Tim Hammond’s title corrected 2/28/22.

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