Inside Intramural Sports

Daniel Fappiano, Layout Editor

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When Maddie O’Neill steps up to the plate for her intramural softball team, she has just one thing on her mind: getting on base. On a rainy Tuesday, the Central Connecticut junior braved the elements and played nine innings behind the plate.

Despite facing the storm, there was one thing she was able to avoid: college stress.

“School is stressful. School takes a big toll on your mental health,” O’Neill said. “When you can get out here and practice your hobbies and play with your friends, it’s essential to creating a healthy balance between work and fun.”

The downpour drenched matchup marked O’Neil’s first time playing intramural sports at Central. For the other hundreds that play regularly, intramurals aren’t just a way for high school athletes to come together and relive their glory days, but a definitive mental health boost.

Tyler Ward, an adjunct professor at Grand Valley State University once wrote, “Being involved in an intramural team can increase a student’s sense of belonging and make them feel more connected to the university.”

For Ward and many others, playing team sports is a way to boost friendships and overcome mental boundaries.

The difference between collegiate sports and intramurals is that anyone can play. By just signing up, you have an opportunity to compete, sometimes with people you may not even know.

Ian Flis, currently the Area Supervisor of Intramurals Sports at Central, says that since any student is able to play, connections are made much easier.

“It’s very easy to join,” Flis said.  “We actually have a free agent setup that anyone can join that allows for people who may not know each other join a team immediately.”

Flis went on to say that being able to make those easy connections drastically increases mental health.

“It’s great for students in that despite not knowing many people on campus now, that can change through intramural sports,” Flis said. “I’ve definitely seen people through the years who didn’t know everybody on their team the first season, but they keep coming back year after year and become great friends.”

According to Central’s website, students are “expected to invest a minimum of four hours per week per credit hour.” If a student is taking four classes worth three credits a piece, that could end up at 48 hours of class time a week.

Flis goes on to say that intramurals are a great way to break up that time studying in and out of the classroom.

“Intramural sports gives students an outlet to let that competitive side come out, have some fun and take pressure off of what is going on in their classes,” Flis said.

At Central Connecticut, six different sports are offered as intramurals. During the fall, volleyball, flag football, soccer and dodgeball are available. In the spring, both basketball and softball are in season. Each sport is co-ed, meaning that no matter your gender you can still have a spot on the team.

Each sport also comes with three different levels of competitiveness. The highest league, competitive, is for players looking to play seriously with high intensity against others of their same level. The second-highest, semi-competitive, brings the intensity down a little bit but offers a middle ground for those there to win. The third league, recreational, forges around building bonds rather than building stats.

Jett Watkins, currently the Area Supervisor of Marketing/Media for RECentral, says that the different levels of competition allow for more students to get involved.

“We are very organized,” Watkins said. “If you’re a competitive person, there’s a league for you. If you’re not a competitive person, there’s a league for you too.”

Watkins went on to iterate that intramurals are one of the better ways to boost physical and mental health while on campus.

“If you love being active and having fun with your friends, intramurals are likely the best thing you can do on campus,” Watkins said. “Physical activity lowers anxiety and meeting people is a nice bonus. There is no commitment – no practice, no cost – all you have to do is show up.”

Watkins, who plays intramural sports himself as well as working them, stated that RECentral works with CCSU’s Wellness Center. If a student really was feeling down and intramurals weren’t the answer, they would be able to refer them for more help.

O’Neill didn’t get a hit in any of her three at-bats on that rainy Tuesday. However, at least for a little while, she was able to strikeout college stress and play softball with her friends.

As students look to fight back against the rigors of college, intramural sports offer a fun and competitive release for students of any age and any level.