Not everyone can be an NCAA Division I student-athlete, but intramural sports give students the opportunity to play at a semi-competitive level throughout college.
Loyola was ranked as having the number one overall university intramural sports program in the country, according to rankings posted in August by BestColleges.com. Loyola received this ranking because the school offers a wide selection of sports and has an organized structure to the program. More than 40 percent of Loyola students participate in some sort of intramural sporting event, according to the Princeton Review, a site that evaluates various aspects of universities.
At Loyola, the intramural sports program offers sporting events from flag football and Spikeball to video game tournaments and trivia nights. Current students, alumni and Arrupe College students can join men’s, women’s, co-recreational and fraternity teams to play once a week for 2-3 weeks before playoffs. The winners in each sport receive a championship shirt and some teams have the opportunity to play in Gentile Arena.
Over the past three years, Alex Horn, the intramural sports student development and marketing coordinator, has turned the Loyola intramural program into one of the best in the country. Horn, who occasionally participates in intramural events, also spent time working at different universities’ campus recreation departments, including the University of Oklahoma and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Horn said he saw an opportunity to build Loyola’s program and introduced esports to the 30 different sporting events currently offered. He said he “felt ahead of the curve” by adding esports and said its team-based approach makes it seem “like you are playing a real sport.”
While esports has helped the intramural sports program grow, Horn also credited the behind-the-scenes student involvement as a large reason for the success of the program.
The two positions students can apply for are supervisors and referees. A supervisor oversees the referees, inputs statistics following the game and is CPR-certified in case of an emergency, according to Horn. The referees are there to set the field up and officiate the game.
Supervisors Jane Hoyt and Nathan Langhauser are two students Horn hired for the intramural staff. Both staffers said they felt Horn “gave them the resources and opportunity” to be prepared, including scrimmages to train the referees and quizzes to make sure they know the rules.
Hoyt, a junior social work major, has worked in the intramural program since she was a first-year and said the hiring process has changed drastically since she joined the staff.
“There were tryouts and they were intimidating,” Hoyt, 21, said. “Now that [Horn] has the program in his hands, the process has been made much easier.”
Langhauser, a sophomore sport management and marketing double major, and Hoyt also participate in intramurals as players. They said their experience as referees has changed the way they view the relationship between players and officials. Langhauser, 19, said instead of getting upset over a missed call, a player will mention it to the official quietly.
Despite the program’s high ranking, some students, including junior film and digital media major Kobey Davis, said they still feel it can improve.
“I’d tell [Horn] to stop playing,” Davis, 21, joked. “If they added a Dragon Ball-Z, Tekken or Street Fighter tournament it’d be fun.”
Horn said he takes students’ suggestions like Davis’ into consideration. He and his staff give student participants many opportunities to get involved, such as selecting shirt designs over social media and suggesting new sporting events.
Horn said with the students’ consistent help, the program can benefit Loyola and its community as more than just a way to play their favorite sport.
“I’ve really enjoyed working at Loyola,” Horn said. “The students have really latched on to what I know it can be, which is a really good program for the campus community. It’s fun, safe, it’s competitive, it’s a really good way to get physically active, meet people and socialize.”
More information on Loyola’s intramural sports program can be found at https://www.luc.edu/campusrec/sports.