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Intramural sports adapt to COVID-19 health and safety restrictions

Jac St. Jean

With the absence of a fall season for many athletes and a craving for competition after the cancellation of all spring sports last semester, intramural sports are acting as a second life for some of the Pride’s top competitors, and a new outlet for those looking to have some fun in the dreary world of COVID-19. Not only athletes, but students as well are competing in an array of sports and games in an effort to achieve victory, and win the prestigious t-shirt.

The school is now offering some new and different intramural sports this semester. A few returning games include soccer, tennis, golf, bowling, and volleyball. COVID has caused some of them to be reduced in team size, and masks must be worn at all times. Some new and exciting additions to the IMLeagues include golf, corn hole, and spike ball, which the last two appear to be some of the most popular casual yard games on the Springfield campus. There are currently 14 corn hole teams and nine spike ball teams registered on the IMLeagues website. There is no doubt that these are some of Springfield’s fan favorites, and we will likely see them return next year.

At the forefront of it all is Thomas Verrico, who is the assistant director of intramural and club sports. Verrico has been with the Pride for 5 years now, and is optimistic about how the intramural season will play out. “All the students are being really super respectful, everybody’s masked up, everybody’s following our guidelines,” said Verrico. “I think everybody on campus is very willing to want to stay here for the whole semester so they’re really understanding and willing to work with us.”

Unfortunately, some of the typical intramural seasons such as basketball and flag football were cancelled due to the pandemic. Verrico, along with many other intramural athletes, hope for these to make a return in the spring. “It depends how loose the guidelines will become,” he explains. “I’d love to play basketball again, I’d love to offer flag football again, and some of our signature events like glow-in-the-dark dodgeball… some of those I’d really like to get back to but who knows?”

With the replacement of basketball and flag football with corn hole and spike ball, the fall intramural season is certainly one to watch if possible. One student who is participating in both of these hot and new events is senior Carlin Fernandez. Fernandez is also a staple on the men’s lacrosse team as a defensive midfielder. His season, along with many other spring athletes, was cancelled. Now, Fernandez is eager to compete once again in a handful of the intramural sports leagues. “Soccer 7v7 on the turf, corn hole with Alex DeVito, spike ball with Nick Coman…you got to compete in whatever way you can, honestly, like the spike ball tournament this past weekend? That was a dub.”

Fernandez, along with his partner Coman, won the spike ball tournament held by the Springfield College CAB this past weekend. “Got a free spike ball set, pretty sweet, and a t-shirt,” Fernandez said.

While the fall athletic teams will not have a season, there will still be a season among our own athletes and students in intramural sports. In order to play safely, precautionary measures are being taken to limit the chance of spread and exposure to COVID-19. The number of players on the field in soccer has been reduced, as well as on the court in volleyball, and spectators are limited and/or not allowed based on the sport. “Got to wear a mask of course, at all times,” Fernandez said. “Not allowed to do throw-ins… and then they also said no head-balls which I think is going to be kind of difficult because you know if it’s up there… but they said it’s going to be a yellow card if you do it which I think is slightly egregious but we’ll see what happens tonight.” 

Another student who captured a victory in intramural sports this past week was junior Hale Thomas. “It was awesome,” Thomas said. “They’re doing 4v4 this semester… it went really well.” The 4v4 volleyball season began this past Tuesday, where Thomas’s team “Sets on the Beach,” overcame “Chewblocka” in the third set. As a multi-sport athlete in high school, Thomas has a great appreciation for intramural sports at Springfield. “It’s just the best way to be competitive and have fun; not have the full commitment of being on a team… just a light way to get your energy out,” Thomas explained. “The competitive spirit of the school just makes intramurals that much more interesting and fun to be a part of.” While Thomas is excited to be back and playing with his friends, he is bummed that no spectators are allowed at some events. “If there was a way to make that safe I think that would be potentially a good idea. I think if we could do outdoor volleyball… there could be more space available for spectators.” Thomas most certainly speaks for the majority of campus, as the general student population and the faculty and staff are very much deprived of the fall sporting event atmosphere that gets everyone buzzing. For more information on intramural sports, schedules, rosters, and results, be sure to head over to imleagues.com.

Photo: Springfield College

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