It might not always be high-stakes competition, but the spirit of athletics is alive and well within Anderson University’s intramural sports program.
Intramurals, which give the school’s students an opportunity to play in organized athletics without committing to one of their intercollegiate teams, have become a major part of campus life at AU, something Director of Intramural Athletics Trent Palmer has been proud to oversee.
“We offer a wide variety of sports, three to four per season,” Palmer said. “We have a wide spectrum of students involved — male and female, serious athletes and those just looking to have a little fun and meet new friends. I’m really proud of what we do here.”
A large number of the school’s student body participates in the program.
Last year, roughly 800 students were involved. Palmer believes that is due in large part to his department striving to make activities accessible to everyone, even those students who are “athletically challenged.”
Among the more popular games in this arena are Corn Hole (a beanbag toss game), Ultimate Frisbee, and badminton. The department plans to add billiards next year.
“We certainly offer some sports that are unique and that everyone can play,” Palmer said. “It’s attractive to the non-athletic student or just those who are not into the intensity of more competitive sports.”
Of course, the program also offers more traditional sports like basketball, flag football, and volleyball. Popular events include late night 3-on-3 basketball and volleyball tournaments that start at midnight and can last until 5 a.m.
Nolan Sovik, a freshman from Pennsylvania, says the intramural program has helped him integrate into student life in his first year as well as fulfilling his thirst for competition. Sovik came to the school with the intention to play football and was on the squad early last year but had to quit for financial reasons.
“So far it’s been a pretty great fit for me,” Sovik said. “It’s helped me to build some new friendships, and it’s still competitive but without all the seriousness of regular sports.”
Sovik, who plays Ultimate Frisbee, plans to play water polo, basketball, and volleyball when they become available later in the year. He also hopes to join one of the program’s new club teams, which play intramural squads from other schools.
“I do miss football,” Sovik says. “This keeps me involved, getting exercise and meeting new people. I like it a lot.”
With the exception of basketball and flag football, all sports are co-ed. There are two levels of competition: the “pro” division for the more experienced and serious athlete, and the “scrub” division, for those with a more casual interest.
“The ‘scrub’ moniker is definitely lighthearted,” Palmer said. “It’s been named that for as long as I can remember. People are proud to be scrubs. It just allows them to go out and have fun with the games without all the pressure of serious competition.”
Ellen Thompson, who is a member of the intercollegiate softball team, participates in intramurals to keep her competitive juices flowing. As one of the more serious athletes, Thompson says she has to play “cautiously” but still has plenty of fun.
“We have to be a little careful at some of the more physical sports,” Thompson said after her team won a “powder puff” flag football game. “It’s feisty sometimes, but it’s still supposed to be about having fun, and you don’t want anybody to get hurt out here.”
More important than competing, she says, is the ability to meet new people, something she believes makes the school a friendlier place to be.
“Activities like this really bring the campus together,” Thompson said. “I’ve made some really good friends.”
Junior Katie Mountsier is one of seven full-time referees hired by the department to officiate events.
“I love this job,” Mountsier said. “I really like being around a sports atmosphere. I did sports in high school, and this is just something I love to do.”
Most unique, Mountiser believes, is the balance of competitiveness and old-fashioned schoolyard fun that intramurals provide.
“It’s a friendly environment, and great for school involvement. It’s also a place where you can come and be good at something, or not be so good at it, but still have a lot of fun and meet new people.”
— Michael Doyle for The Herald Bulletin. Story reposted with permission. Photo credit: Aaron Piper/The Herald Bulletin.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.