Across campus, the impending summer vacation is evident throughout the student body. With only two weeks left in the year, the AU Intramural staff is doing their best to ensure the student body wraps up their year on a high note with season four. After spending seasons two and three inside the Kardatzke Wellness Center, the majority of IM games are now back to being held outside, providing students a great release from classes and the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.
“Season four is our most laid-back season,” explained Director of Student Engagement Trent Palmer. “The sports we offer provide an easy going and relaxed atmosphere, and students have an excuse to come enjoy time outdoors.”
The IM staff offers softball, five-on-five soccer, spikeball and badminton this season. Softball, soccer and spikeball have all been played on the IM field, while badminton takes place back inside the KWC Fieldhouse.
There are 33 badminton teams, 15 softball teams, eight spikeball teams and three soccer teams. Both the badminton and softball leagues are split into upper and lower divisons. The number of participants in softball climbed from last season, while soccer numbers took a hit after members of the men’s and women’s soccer teams were unable to play due to offseason training.
“We’re still crunching the numbers for this season,” said Palmer. “We are still trending in a way that over half of the student body participates in an IM sport. Seasons one and four do have lower numbers of participation, which can be attributed to the time of day our games are played.”
Season four games, with the exception of badminton, are played from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. This can conflict with class schedules, athletic practices and other extracurricular activities.
In addition to the sports already offered, each season the staff partners with the Campus Activities Board (CAB) to host a Saturday tournament. This season’s tournament, Wiffles and Waffles, was new to Anderson University.
“I was working at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas,” explained Intramural Coordinator Rudy Lyon. “One night I couldn’t sleep and the event idea came to me. I love wiffleball and I thought, ‘what better way to do it than with food to help bring people in?’ Who doesn’t love waffles?” He explained that he got up from his bed and wrote out all the logistics on a sheet of paper, knowing the event would one day come to fruition. Three years later, and in a different state, it finally did.
The eight-team tournament began at 11 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Even students not participating in the wiffleball tournament were welcome to come watch and indulge in homemade waffles prepared by the CAB staff.
Many of the students in attendance provided positive feedback.
“Playing wiffleball for the first time in over five years was the most fun I’ve had all year at a tournament,” explained Sam O’Brien, a member of Dingers & Stingers 2.0, the tournament champions. He explained that both the semi-final and championship games were both very close. “Any team could have won the tournament,” O’Brien said. “I was just happy to be a part of the event.” Dingers & Stingers 2.0 won the championship in a 19-17 championship classic.
There is still discussion over whether or not the event will return next year. It was a pretty consensus opinion that the event was enjoyable, but Palmer explained that wiffleball is more of a “niche sport,” not one that attracts the entire student body. He explained that it has been a struggle for some time to find a season four event that is appealing to the entire student body, something he hopes to rectify with next year’s season four event.
The fourth and final season of IMs wraps up tonight, weather permitting. In the case of weather, the softball and spikeball champions will be crowned tomorrow night. Champions have already been crowned in the soccer league. The Pumas took home the title, wrapping up their season with a 6-1 record.
“Season four is the most weather-dependent season,” said Lyon. “Spring in Indiana is totally unpredictable. We lost two days to rainouts, but were able to reschedule the games pretty easily thanks to IMLeagues.”
Coming into season four, the hope is that students enjoy themselves in a relaxed atmosphere coming off of the intense season three. Lyon believes that season four has fulfilled the preseason expectations. “It’s hard to miss the smiles on people’s faces,” he said. “Whether it’s hitting a softball two feet or scoring a goal in soccer, people have an amazing time.
As the end of the year draws near, Palmer reflected on how the program as a whole has been successful. “It’s been a great year of Intramurals,” he said. “We’ve taken bigger strides to our campus being streamlined online through the advent of IMLeagues. We continue to make strides in hiring and training officials, and they did a very good job this year.
“AU Intramurals continues to provide an excellent engagement opportunity to our student body in the way of relationship-building, physical activity and competition.”