Social yet competitive atmosphere
By Adam Gibson
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
“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
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
“At times the competition gets intense. As league champions,
both teams are obviously talented and competitive,” she says.