Western Washington University’s sports facilities were buzzing Monday night, Oct. 4, as intramural sports returned for the first time in over one-and-a-half years.
Intramural sports at Western offer both season and tournament format competitions that any student can register for. According to the intramural section of Western’s Campus Recreation Services website, intramurals promote healthy lifestyles while providing a structured competitive environment.
The final games of the winter 2020 intramural season were played just 15 days before the university moved to a virtual setting, according to the archive of intramural seasons.
As classes resume on campus, students are now required to be vaccinated. In result, intramural sports were able to restart this school year, beginning Oct. 4. This fall season offers volleyball, spikeball, flag football, 11-on-11 soccer, 6-on-6 soccer and basketball leagues.
Lucy Caples, Western’s intramurals sports coordinator, said in an email that the leagues are able to operate just like normal. The only difference is that participants, officials, supervisors and spectators are required to wear masks at all times across all sports. Students must also provide their electronic COVID-19 clearance badge through MyWesternHealth before each game, she said.
For fall quarter, there are currently 1,019 Western students registered to play intramural sports, Caples said. That’s about 100 less than the number of students who signed up to play in the fall of 2019.
“[Participation numbers are] a little lower, but this was something we expected in the middle of a pandemic,” she said. “As the curve flattens, we plan on adding more sports and being able to cater to what the campus population wants more, which will hopefully increase our numbers.”
According to Amy Hildebrandt, intramural coordinator at Seattle Pacific University, SPU began its intramural season one week before Western and has not had any issues with COVID-19 cases so far.
SPU has seen a similar decline in their participation, but now that they’re finally back, “there’s a lot of new energy and excitement from the students,” Hildebrandt said.
Western’s first week of intramural sports is officially in the books without a hitch. Athletes and organizers can look ahead for weeks of healthy competition.
“I'm looking forward to the interactions we were all missing out on during quarantine,” Caples said. “As we all get more used to these new policies, I only see our sports becoming more fun and a great way for students to let off some steam between classes.”
Alan Luff, a third-year Western student, played intramural sports before the pandemic and is playing soccer this season.
“It helps me get my mind off school and I get to meet a lot of people, so I’m glad intramurals are back,” he said.
Registration is now closed for new teams joining fall sports. Individuals can still join teams that have open roster spots.
According to Caples, registration for the winter season will likely open the week of Nov. 29, but that is tentative depending on if COVID-19 policies change.
Western students can still join the all-bodies-inclusive sit-down volleyball tournament on Thursday, Oct. 21, and the dodgeball tournament on Thursday, Dec. 2, for free. Sign-ups, which are open until an hour before the tournaments begin, and future sports offerings and sign-ups will be available here.