Intramural and club sports have been apart of the fabric of the USM community for many years, and even through the midsts of COVID-19, it’s no different. Although the normal activities may have been modified, the long-lasting benefits it has on students remain.
At USM Intramural Sports were designed to provide an opportunity for students to participate in organized recreational activities such as soccer or flag football. This allowed undergraduate and graduate students to practice good sportsmanship in a supportive and inclusive atmosphere that promotes wellness, community, and competitive pride.
When the academic year started in the Fall of 2020, the importance of having an intramural sports program could not be overstated, but doing it safely was a challenge. “Trying to make sure everybody’s safe and still have that engagement piece where kids are still feeling that sense of community was quite challenging,” said Marc Roy, the Coordinator of Intramural and Club Sports.
Although challenging, Roy came into the COVID-19 academic year equipped with new ideas to keep the momentum of Intramural and Club Sports going. “We played classic yard games, like Corn Hole’, ‘Kan-Jam’ and other things where people can still get engaged and they’re still being safe,” said Roy.
After a challenging yet rewarding Fall semester, Roy wanted to utilize the winter break as an opportunity to try and improve things for the Spring semester. After meeting with other recreation program directors from across the country and seeing what they have been doing, Roy decided he wanted to bring some of those activities to USM for the upcoming season.
One of the brand new sports is “Three vs. Three Wiffle Ball” and “Three vs. Three Kickball”. This game is modified to meet the COVID-19 protocols. Instead of getting somebody “out” by tagging the base or the person, you would get an “out” by throwing the ball back to the pitcher before the runner gets to the base. “We are just trying to run these classic leagues with just slightly modified versions,” said Roy.
Another brand new sport is “Soccer Tennis”. This game is very popular amongst soccer communities of other universities. This game is being played with a pickleball net and the court is roughly the size of a badminton court. “I would say it’s more like volleyball than it is tennis, but you use your feet instead of a paddle,” said Roy.
Intramural sports are designed for those students who are just looking for some friendly competition against their friends at USM. It doesn’t matter how good or bad you are, anyone can play intramural sports at USM. For those students looking for something a little more competitive but not as involved and time-consuming as Division III Athletics, club sports can be the perfect option.
The USM Club Sports Program is a voluntary competitive recreational sports program organized by USM students for USM students, designed to meet athletic needs not met by existing intramural and intercollegiate programs. Current club sports include Field Hockey, Women’s Volleyball, Dance, Men’s Volleyball, Men’s Ice Hockey, Esports, and Powerlifting.
If for some reason USM doesn’t have a club sport that interests you, it is really easy to get a club sport started. “If you are interested in starting something that isn’t already at USM students can talk with me to get that process started together,” said Roy.
Kevin Hill, the current Men’s Club Volleyball President, and junior majoring in English education got his team started by going down his hallway in his dorm room and knocking on every single door. “It was also important to think about some things before meeting with Marc like roster, practice facility, competition, budget, and equipment. Fundraising was also a big factor for us in terms of getting uniforms, new equipment, and travel for competitions,” said Hill.
Men’s Volleyball has now risen over the last four years and is considered to be one of the more successful slub sports teams at USM growing in both roster size and in its success. “I played volleyball for four years in high school and I was determined to keep playing. I rounded up a few guys, taught them how to play volleyball. After a few months of practice, we were ready to compete in the New England Club Volleyball League (NECVL),” said Hill.
Today the team has an impressive roster size of 18 members and they now compete against other colleges from the Northeast in addition to the NECVL. Due to COVID-19, the competitive season has come to a halt but the benefits of slub sports can still be felt today. “Despite the pandemic, we have had many team bonding events in the past. Some of our most fun memories are created in the long car rides and hotel stays the nights before tournaments where we play cars, have video game tournaments, and so on,” said Hill.
Intramural and Club Sports at USM have always been a part of the special fabric that makes the community stronger and brings people together. “We’re here to make sure your time is great at USM. If there is something you want to see, please do not hesitate to reach out. If you’re interested in it, I guarantee there are 10 others just like you that would be interested in it,” said Roy.