Intramural inclusion

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Intramural inclusion

Intramurals are leagues that focus on the enjoyment and community of sports. These need to be implemented at KHS.

Intramurals are leagues that focus on the enjoyment and community of sports. These need to be implemented at KHS.

Audrey Blaine

Intramurals are leagues that focus on the enjoyment and community of sports. These need to be implemented at KHS.

Audrey Blaine

Audrey Blaine

Intramurals are leagues that focus on the enjoyment and community of sports. These need to be implemented at KHS.

I wasn’t going to make the cut. Looking around at all the girls dressed in varying colors of spandex, my stomach sank. There was no way I was good enough — I just knew that white envelope with my name on it held bad news. And I was right. 

I played volleyball for two years — first for Kirkwood Juniors in seventh and eighth grade, then St. Peter’s B-team. I attended multiple camps and workshops and tried out for club volleyball. I did not make a team. I ran every day the summer before to reach the required 8-minute mile, which was my only triumph at volleyball tryouts that August. I didn’t even make the freshman team. 

After being cut, the coaches kindly confirmed that pursuing volleyball competitively would require me to invest more time, money and effort than I had been for the past two years. The next day I joined cross country, and the following year I didn’t have a sport at all, as I didn’t have enough time or passion for running. I was stuck trying to stay active alone, without the support and structure of a team. 

After all my sports struggles, I could only think of one thing: there should be an alternative option that could have allowed me to continue playing volleyball or running cross country, but without the need for top-notch skill and a 13 hour-per-week commitment. Intramurals are less intense, less competitive leagues that focus on the enjoyment and community of sports rather than prioritizing winning. KHS does not offer intramurals, but these leagues need to be implemented.

There are benefits to playing sports no matter what level of competition. Sarah Tilly, freshman, said cross country is her second family and helped her comfortably adjust to high school, providing familiar faces in the halls. However, people who are not able to play high school sports can’t experience these benefits. With recreational sports, they could — and the benefits go beyond physical and social. The National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) performed a study that shows college students reported numerous advantages to intramurals including stress management, self-confidence and a sense of belonging. 

KHS offers varsity, JV and freshman/C-team athletics — but no recreational leagues. According to Corey Nesslage, athletics director, part of that is due to the difficulty of finding space and people to run them. Some solutions include having these leagues treated like an after-school club, requiring a sponsor, and to transport students to either middle school like KHS provides for its soccer teams. 

Should KHS create intramural sports leagues?

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Nesslage said in his time as director they have not considered intramurals — this is common, according to Bridging the Gap, as 52% of U.S. high schools do not offer them. Nesslage believes freshmen should get more opportunities to play and hone their skills by the time they reach varsity, an extremely competitive team, where the goal is to put the “best quality product” on the field, Nesslage said. 

One alternative to recreational sports at the high school is the Kirkwood Community Center. They offer multiple sport leagues, but out of the three current available leagues (volleyball, soccer and softball) one restricts players to grades 2-8 and all three require payment. On top of that, players must find their own transportation.  If intramurals were provided after school, students wouldn’t have to worry about transportation, age requirements and cost. 

These are problems I still struggle with today. Finding activities to stay healthy that I also enjoy is difficult, especially without the option to play at my school. Every week I swim laps at the YMCA, and if it’s not too humid, I’ll take a long walk. However, I miss the excitement, satisfaction and relationships from volleyball and cross country. I still enjoy sports, even if I’m not the most skilled, and I bet I would have fun trying out soccer or basketball too. But my opportunity for playing has come and gone, and the question still stands: would we rather have more students playing, or only the better quality athletes? I stand for more.