New look for IM sports featured at GV this fall


Courtesy to GVSU

Zack Goodrow, Sports Editor

Weekday nights at the Kelly Family Sports Center on campus at Grand Valley State University are filled with competition, but it’s not like a normal sporting event.

The field isn’t loud with competitors. The stands aren’t filled with fans. There are no coaches barking orders to players. Instead, it’s a quiet atmosphere filled with small groups of people playing games like cornhole or spikeball. While it may not be what students are used to when it comes to intramural (IM) sports, it does bring back some sense of normalcy to GVSU. 

“I was going to do volleyball, but why not take my talents to cornhole?” said cornhole player and GVSU junior Matthew Bridges. “I wanted to play cornhole because I enjoy doing it casually with friends and it was one of the only things offered to us. It’s tough and it’s hard to find a community here. I think that a lot of people feel that way. You get up, go to class, eat, then don’t really do much else. It’s not really the full college experience that we’ve had or we’re used to. Cornhole helps us get together and just have fun.” 

With little sports being offered to students, let alone student athletes at GVSU, this fall semester of 2020 has felt foreign to many. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, restrictions will still be placed on students for their safety. Those guidelines have extended to the department of Recreation and Wellness at GVSU, who have worked diligently to offer students at least some leagues of IM sports to compete in. 

Mitch Eastlick, the interim associate director of sports programs, and his team have been hard at work making sure that playing IM sports this year was feasible. Their first task was deciding what sports could be played. Cornhole, kickball, Spikeball, sand volleyball and tennis were all offered, as they could be played while being socially distant. Their next job was to make IM sports free this year.    

“In this time, everyone has a lot going on,” Eastlick said. “We understand that finances are a concern for college students. They’re really always a concern for students, but especially more of a concern right now. Being able to provide this opportunity for students to do things in person and be able to offer it for free are a couple of reasons why we made this decision.” 

Eastlick and the Rec and Wellness department knew that they would have to offer less to students this year. Even with less sports being offered, it hasn’t stopped the growing amount of participation. Cornhole has 72 different teams competing and the league filled up quickly. Last year, cornhole had about 20 teams competing. Kickball, Spikeball, and sand volleyball all had a waitlist for students to be able to compete. 

“These numbers show that people are looking to do things in person,” Eastlick said. “There’s restrictions, guidelines, and things that we have to do, but they’re things we now have to do in our everyday life. I think that people have been very accepting of these things and they want to come in and participate. It’s disappointing that we had to close down due to the stay in place order. With this new order though, we’re able to start back up and I think everyone is pleased to be back out there.” 

The department also knew that they wouldn’t have to have as many student workers supervising events. The only sports they offer that have refs are sand volleyball and kickball. Refs involved in these games have responsibilities of making sure the GVSU COVID-19 protocols are being met. 

“We have a court in between each other so that participants are socially distanced,” said Rec and Wellness employee Nathan Mentuz. “Participants have to wear masks while they’re here. We spread out games throughout the night so that when new teams come in they don’t have to get close to old teams. We also make sure that people are fully wearing their masks and not having them below their nose.” 

All equipment for games are provided by the IM sports department. This includes volleyballs and kickballs, bags for corn hole, and the balls and nets for Spikeball. Workers and refs at events make sure that all equipment is sanitized at the end of the night. 

“We have sanitation spray in our bags that we use in between games,” said Rec and Wellness employee Kyle Fulton. “When teams are done we spray down the balls. At the end of the night, we spray down all the equipment and put it away.” 

This year, IM sports look very different. Even with less sports being offered for safety reasons, participation has been solid. Many people are playing in leagues they would have never had thought of participating in before. 

“It’s a good way to have fun and exercise,” said freshman Spikeball player Levi Sikkema. “I definitely like the fact that it’s free. I probably wouldn’t be playing Spikeball if there were more openings and leagues. I’d probably play soccer or volleyball if there were more openings.” 

IM sports will continue to take place for the rest of the semester and hopefully offer even more leagues for students at the beginning of the winter semester.