Intramurals adding new esports program

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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many different activities throughout the University of Indianapolis, including academics and campus life, with intramural sports being another one of those campus traditions that now has new safety guidelines and protocols. According to Assistant Director of Student Activities Nicole Schuch, intramural sports such as flag football and volleyball will not happen this fall.

“Most of these sports … would require lots of physical contact [with] very little social distancing at all,” Schuch said. “For the safety of our students, we have to put that on hold.”   

Although the campus will not have intramural sports this semester, UIndy Campus Recreation is adding a new esports program, according to Schuch. The first esports competition will take place at the end of September. 

Students can participate in games such as NBA 2K21, Overwatch and Fortnite that will be streamed on Twitch. Those who are interested in participating can sign up via Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Kory Vitangeli’s emails, flyers posted around campus or on UIndy Campus Rec’s social media. Schuch said she hopes that the esports program will continue after intramurals get back to traditional methods. 

“This is us dipping our toe into the water at the end of the month,” Schuch said. “Even if we get to a point where we are back to the traditional way of intramurals, we would also add esports to our rolling multi-league or one-day tournaments.” 

Senior public health major Phoebe Schembre has been a member of the intramural ultimate frisbee team for four years. When writing COVID-19 guidelines for the team practices, Schembre said her main priority is to protect the team.   

“We have to wear masks while we play, which is the same as all of the other athletes on campus,” Schembre said. “We sanitize the disc a couple of times throughout practice [and] before and after,” Schembre said. “We’re not doing any scrimmaging. We just decided that [it] would put people at risk because it would be a lot more breaking the six-feet barrier. We’re going to just do drills and teach people.”   

In this file photo, senior exercise science major Ben Hooker looks upfield during an ultimate frisbee game.
Photo by Jacob Walton In this file photo, senior exercise science major Ben Hooker looks upfield during an ultimate frisbee game. Ultimate Frisbee is one of the many intramurals that have been affected by COVID-19. Other intramurals, including flag football, will not take place this semester.

According to Schembre, one of the biggest challenges playing ultimate frisbee this season is meeting in-person. Schembre said scheduling a practice takes a long time because the Office of Student Affairs must approve it with the COVID-19 guidelines.

“We need to meet more than once a month, which the RSO’s are allowed to, but that means we have to do more things to allow for that,” Schembre said. “[That’s] almost frustrating because I see other RSOs being able to do things and our team hasn’t been able to move forward. It’s harder to get freshmen to play when we can’t play yet.”

Campus Rec is taking small steps to ensure the well-being of students during COVID-19 according to Schuch. During Welcome Week, students were able to take part in a corn hole tournament. 

According to Schuch, it’s simple to enforce social distancing rules and restrict the number of people involved with it. Although intramural sports are not taking place this semester, Schuch remains hopeful for the next term.  

“The goal and the most ideal situation as the university moves through the phases of the re-engagement process [is] if we can get to a point where we are allowed to have a larger gathering … we’ll be ready to rock and roll with you traditional second semester intramural programs,” Schuch said. “We would love to do that.”

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