March 25, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 92  

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Western’s intramural sports
Social yet competitive atmosphere

By Adam Gibson
Gazette Writer

Leah Crane/Gazette
THIS IS THE GYM, NOT “LE SALLE DE BAINS.” Some fun-loving indoor soccer miscreants practice their skills at being a hooligan in the University Community Centre while we bone up on our français.

Call it the everyman’s sport organization — Western’s Intramural Sports offers a wide range of services and athletics from competitive playdowns to recreational showdowns.

With leagues at the recreational, competitive and super competitive level, IMS offers something for everyone on campus. Though statistics were unavailable for the 2003/04 year, during the 2002/03 year, approximately 9,300 players competed on over 900 teams in intramurals.

Terri Youngblut, assistant co-ordinator for IMS, is proud of the diverse activity the programs offer.

“In the recreational leagues, you get people from all sorts of backgrounds and experiences generally looking for a social event. The more diverse competitive leagues offer [more] competition, generally to people who have played sports throughout high school but lack either the time or skills to compete at the varsity level,” Youngblut notes.

“The year-long super competitive leagues are predominantly for those who plan to show up and compete at a high level. We like to think we offer something for everyone,” she adds.

Brad Tilson, the IMS co-ordinator for the fall and winter touch football leagues, sees a wide range of competition throughout his programs. In his co-ed recreational leagues, the social results of the leagues are evident.

“You see a lot of residences and faculty-based teams just interested in having fun. At the same time, you see teams who really want to win with scripted plays and defined rosters. There’s at least one self-proclaimed superstar on each team,” she says.

Tilson suggests that the volleyball programs are likely the most strictly structured. “Because of the wide range of interest, IMS is capable of offering all three levels of play at the male, female and coed levels. It’s great for those who really know what they want,” he adds.

Reid Crombie, a competitor in multiple IMS programs and a member of Western’s men’s lacrosse team, draws parallels between his varsity and intramural experiences.

“In intramural sports you can still have fun when you’re losing. In varsity athletics, you have to be intense whether you are winning or losing, because your goal is to win,” he says.

Crombie believes IMS teams are still competitive because “nobody likes to lose. However, the elite players’ level of [athletic talent] overrides the social aspects of IMS, which are generally more important than winning.”

Touch football participant Ricardo Aguirre couldn’t help but grin when describing his league and his team’s dedication. “Early in the year we would practice intensely two or three times a week for an hour,” he admits.

Despite his dedication, Aguirre acknowledges the social dimension of the games. “The games are more team-oriented than houseleague because in this context, you always get to play with your friends.”

During the touch football league finals in 2003, Aguirre got a taste of varsity athletics while playing at TD Waterhouse Stadium. “It was really exciting playing at TD — on that night I was an official football player.”

Aguirre’s teammate Arlen Bolan couldn’t agree more with the level of his team’s passion. “It’s like houseleague sports, where no one gets cut, yet at the same time you still find players that are really talented — some diamonds in the rough.”

Though Bolan agrees with the social aspect of the game, he was careful not to understate the competition of his league. “Once we get out onto the field it’s pretty serious. I want to win. I don’t want to get shown up.”

Youngblut cites the Fanshawe Challenge as the pinnacle of London’s intramural sports teams. Since 2001, league champions of selected sports from Western and Fanshawe College square off in one-game championships.

“At times the competition gets intense. As league champions, both teams are obviously talented and competitive,” she says.



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