Even though Loyola doesn’t have a collegiate-level football team, students are still finding a way to play the sport through Intramural flag football. Intramural teams are formed weeks before the season starts and for flag football they consist of at least six people aged anywhere from first-years to graduate students.
Other sports vary. Loyola offers intramural leagues for softball, volleyball, flag football, soccer, badminton, cornhole and racquetball during the fall semester. There are co-ed, all male, all female and Greek Life leagues available.
After a four week regular season and a tightly contested tournament, the championship game for flag football was Nov. 6. The two teams fighting for glory and t-shirts were the Big Ballers and Dassa My Boys.
The Big Ballers is made up mainly of seniors who have known each other since they started school at Loyola. They also have some players that joined in over the years to follow, including junior Daniel Rodriguez.
“Since freshman year [Big Ballers has] been playing together,” Rodriguez said. “They all lived in Campion Hall and I jumped in when I had the chance to play sophomore year.”
Rodriguez said many teams use playing intramurals as a way to relieve stress, but the Big Ballers use it as way to reminisce.
“It’s a mix of seriousness at some points and a little bit of joking around at others,” Rodriguez said. “It’s like being in high school all over again.”
Rodriguez said they have had some memorable moments this season with many close games and some physical plays.
“We were beating a team real badly, I got a sack and the ref just ended the game,” Rodriguez said. “Another time Vetri [Ravichandran] went up for a catch and the referees were in dispute about the catch. We won the game because of that play.”
Once the players found out they were competing against a team of all first-years, most of the Big Ballers were confident they would win the championship game. Senior Vetri Ravichandran had a different way of thinking.
“Realistically, they have fresher legs than us, but we’ve been in college longer,” Ravichandran said.
Ravichandran’s teammate, senior Jared Gavin, was optimistic but also realistic about how he thought the game would go.
“We are a little washed up but we think our experience will lead us to the championship,” Gavin said.
The all first-year team Dassa My Boys formed as a way to make friends. The team came together by chance; they had all been placed in Simpson Hall on the third floor in the east wing.
“All of the guys on my floor got together and talked and we all decided we wanted to play intramural sports,” first-year Nolan Hullinger said. “We had five guys and we met one other guy playing pickup basketball and it worked out that all six of us became really good friends.”
Being a first-year, Hullinger said he used this opportunity to socialize more and expand the amount of friends he had.
“It’s helped a lot.” Hullinger said. “Obviously with these guys, being that we live close together, we’d probably know each other fairly well but this has really brought us close together.”
Hullinger said playing intramural football has allowed him to create bonds he may not have formed without being on the team.
“It’s the best,” Hullinger said. “If you are on an intramural team and you are not best friends with everyone, personally, I don’t see the point in it.”
Even though the team enjoys one another’s presence, they’ve still had their ups and downs during the season. Hullinger said they have each other to pick each other back up.
“I had a really bad couple plays in a game and was down on myself,” Hullinger said. “My buddy Garrison [Wendleberger] came up to me and said ‘Hey, you’re good, next play we will get it back. We’re okay.’ He was really encouraging to me in that moment.”
Hullinger said he’s lucky to have joined intramurals. It’s helped him get involved and brought him closer with the campus community.
“Of course everyone goes to the Division I sports games,” Hullinger said. “But [intramural sports bring] everyone together in a more casual environment where it can still be competitive. That’s a really unique thing about intramural sports.”
Going into the championship game, the team was surprised by how far they had come.
“Being freshmen, we didn’t know how far we were going to make it,” Hullinger said. “Just getting to the semifinals was cool.”
The Big Ballers took the upper hand with a score of 28-20 and defeated the first-time team.
“It was so nice to win,” Rodriguez said. “We just went out and did our best and luckily out played the first timers. I’m hoping to get the rest of our team to come back and play one more year with me so we can be two-year champs.”
Dassa My Boys were upset about the loss but still had positive spirits as they left the field.
“We just made a bunch of little mistakes that added up and costed us the game,” Hullinger said. “What I love about our team is that none of us are going to blame one person for the loss. Yeah we will be sour about it but in the end we had a lot of fun.”