As much as sports lovers and athletes alike love fantasizing about running a 40-yard dash in four seconds, bending a free kick past the goalkeeper from midfield or shooting that three-point buzzer beater that sends our collegiate team to the National Championship, it simply isn’t reality. For all of those students who are passionate about sports and enjoy throwing on their cleats and juking defenders, but simply don’t possess the skills to compete collegiately nor the time to play a club sport, Loyola’s intramural sports program is a way to keep that passion alive.
Loyola’s intramural sports program offers a variety of sports including soccer, flag football, volleyball and basketball, along with more non-traditional options such as badminton, dodgeball and even cornhole.
All intramural leagues are open to Loyola students regardless of experience or talent level. Each sports league is divided into three subdivisions: a men’s division, women’s division and in sports such as football, volleyball, soccer and cornhole, a “CoRec” men’s and women’s division.
Megan Morris, who has extensive experience in sports management and intramural and club sports, heads Loyola’s intramural program and has served in this capacity for the last four years.
Morris said it’s easy to play sports at the intramural level.
“Intramural sports are designed to allow anyone, regardless of past skill or experience, to compete in an open and welcoming manner,” said Morris. “If a student is new to a sport, I would recommend them going the intramural sport route. [There is] a wide range of people [from those] who played competitively their whole lives to someone who has never even seen a basketball before.”
While Morris acknowledged that her favorite intramural at Loyola is the flag football league, she said that indoor and outdoor intramural soccer are the most popular because of the players’ high energy and the freedom to pick up and add team members with ease.
Soccer geeks bum-rush to hop in on the action. The intramural soccer teams generally consist of six players, including a goalie, on the field at once. Soccer teams can carry up to 12 players on their roster.
Morris has developed the intramural program over the past few years, this year adding both 3-on-3 basketball and backyard-favorite cornhole to the mix. There is potential for interscholastic competition with nearby rivals such as DePaul University and Northwestern University, as well as the possible addition of a kickball league to kickoff the spring semester.
However, there is plenty of room for improvement. Loyola is limited on athletic space without an on-campus football field, and players are confined to Halas Athletic Center and Mertz Field. Many students have voiced their desire to add more sports to the intramural schedule. Lucas Millman, a finance major and first-year student from Edwardsville, Illinois, is new to the intramural program. He played flag football this fall but has already expressed his hope that there will be more opportunities for students to get involved and further expansion of the programs.
“I would like to see longer games, especially for flag football, and a longer season with more personnel to organize and manage all of this,” said Millman.
Millman also addressed the need for one popular sport that the program has yet to incorporate.
“Loyola should introduce floor hockey at the intramural level,” he said. “Being in a huge hockey town and with many passionate hockey fans on campus, you would think it could be a popular addition.”
Morris herself acknowledged the limitations that both indoor and outdoor space and weather restrictions create during the fall and winter when she tries to build the program.
“We are very restricted in space, so it is always a struggle to add in new sports,” Morris said. “I wish I had access to several more fields and courts, as I think our program could thrive and grow.”
At a university where some students feel sports are under-emphasized and are hindered by the lack of a football and baseball team, intramurals could very likely help to quench the thirst some athletes have to compete and enjoy their favorite sports on campus.
Coming up on the intramural schedule are the soccer and flag football league championships, playoffs in the volleyball leagues and the start of 3-on-3 basketball.
Students can create or join a team at imleagues.com to play for free.