AU is a special place for many reasons.
Fall in the Valley offers breathtaking views each day. Chapel affords students the chance to worship corporately twice a week. Strong programs like the Falls School of Business provide students with real-world experience to prepare them for life after school.
In addition to all of those wonderful things, what really sets AU apart is the community. The bond between students here is irrefutable.
One of the greatest examples of community afforded at AU comes through its intramural program. Friendships are forged, fierce competition takes place, and character is developed. The mission statement of the program even addresses community: “The intramural program at AU exists in order to develop a balanced and Christ-like character in the lives of students, and to strengthen the university community through competition, team building, and involvement.”
The program offers four unique seasons throughout the season, none of which can match the community and excitement provided by season three, which begins this week.
“Campus intramurals are very special to me,” explained Alphonso Blackwell, a member of AU’s varsity football team and an IM basketball referee. “They are a change of pace for the campus and offer a way for the campus to come together through competition. “I believe students really crave that.”
With 20 men’s basketball teams, five women’s basketball teams, 10 indoor soccer teams, nine pool volleyball teams, and an astounding 41 cornhole teams, student participation is higher than in any other season. With Indiana being known as THE basketball state and the home of “Hoosier Hysteria,” it makes sense that the season incorporating basketball would be the most intense.
Cam Etzler, intramural rules and referee manager, touched on the energy surrounding season three.
“Season three brings the most participants and excitement by a long shot because of basketball,” he said. “Basketball is by far the most popular sport that we offer. That is proved every year by the amount of teams that are involved and the high level of competition.
“Being in the middle of the NCAA and NBA season leaves everyone’s mind on hoops,” she said. “Playing goes along hand-in-hand.”
Not only are participation numbers higher than every other season, but fan engagement also soars during season three. It is quite a common sight to see students packing the baseline during pro-league basketball games, many of whom are members of the varsity basketball team at AU.
Wes Davidson, junior forward on AU’s basketball team, explained what draws him out. “It’s a fun atmosphere,” he said. “The teams play really hard, the student officials work really hard to control the games, and it is fun watching with your friends.”
Some students even dress up in suits and patrol the sidelines, serving in a coaching role for different teams.
Whether they’re coaching, holding signs or heckling friends, the students bring an edge to games. Etzler elaborated on this atmosphere.
“It’s exciting to see a lot of people show up for the games,” he said. “Having classmates and friends show up generates a lot of popularity and excitement for the games.”
Even more excitement this year will be generated due to the balance and unpredictability throughout the leagues. In years past, there have been clear-cut favorites entering play. More than any season in recent memory, the basketball championships are totally up for grabs.
This can be partially attributed to the influx of even more athletes into the competition. Once again, baseball players are allowed to participate in Intramurals. Under previous coaching regimes, they were not allowed to participate due to fear of potential injury. The team is not only allowed to play, but encouraged.
“We haven’t been able to play IM basketball in two years,” said senior shortstop Nick Butcher. “It’s going to be awesome to be able to get out there and compete with all the guys in a sport other than baseball.”
Much of the excitement surrounding the intramural program can be attributed to behind the scenes work of Intramural Coordinator Rudy Lyon and Director of Student Engagement Trent Palmer. The duo, along with their staff, interview new candidates to hire to referee exclusively season three sports. Such an extravagant operation can’t take place without their behind the scenes work.
The program has played a huge role in Lyon’s time at AU. Lyon attended AU and fell in love with intramurals as a freshman.
“It all started with a passion for sports as a student,” he said. “Now I get to do this professionally and take this program from something that was good, to great and even excellent.”
A nationally recognized top 25 intramural program, AU intramurals are truly on their way to being excellent. Swing by the KWC to take in a dose of the action. Join a team, bring a sign, cheer on your friends; whatever it is, be sure to experience the AU community provided by intramurals that simply can’t be matched.
Alec Brown is junior public relations major and global business minor from Greenwood, Indiana.