Franciscan intramurals: Living the Catholic faith in athletics

JOHN GALLAGHER
STAFF WRITER

The intramural sports program at Franciscan University is an established staple of the athletics department.

With sports such as basketball, volleyball and flag football, intramural sports coordinator Kelly Herrmann has done well to establish a reputable outlet for friendly competition.

Herrmann said the intramurals program allows students the chance to experience Catholic-influenced athletics.

“Intramurals provide students with the opportunity to compete, with the opportunity to learn, and sometimes, with the opportunity to re-learn because we have not necessarily experienced a faithful way to compete,” said Herrmann.

This academic year marks the institution of several new intramural sports: racquetball; cornhole; futsol; wallyball, which Herrmann described as “volleyball in the racquetball courts”; and a bench press event.

“You lift half of your body weight,” said Herrmann, describing the newly established bench press competition. “A thinner person does well where a bulky guy might struggle. People can hopefully work toward a goal, and we’ll have the competition later in the semester.”

Franciscan’s intramural sports program also began the year with a new focus, namely, service specifically tailored toward students.

Herrmann said, “We really want to focus on customer service, on serving our intramural participants. The vast majority … are students, so there’s lots of different ways we focus on them as the priority.”

The application of this new focus, Herrmann said, is already affecting intramural basketball games.

“The supervisors … want to make sure they connect with every captain before, during and after every game, throughout the entire basketball season,” she said. “The supervisor will find the captain, talk to them, ask them how they are, ask if they have any questions, if there’s anything they can help them with.”

Herrmann said the focus on service was inspired by David Fatula, Events coordinator.

“Dave Fatula is the ultimate example on our campus of customer service,” said Herrmann. “He has taught us all so much about that. We can do better in intramurals to provide a service for our students.”

Despite new goals and activities, the focus of the program must remain the same, said Herrmann.

“At Franciscan, almost everything is different,” she said. “Sports here should be different, need to be different, because they’re from a faith perspective. In the intramural sports program, we grow and are challenged in so many ways that are specific to competition.”

Franciscan must continue to allow Catholic influence to pervade each aspect of campus life, said Herrmann.

She said, “We have an intercollegiate sports program here because God needs us to step into that area of society, and bring about renewal. If Franciscan is a different place, if it’s unique, then shouldn’t our intramural programs and our athletic opportunities be uniquely Catholic in a similar way? The answer, of course, is yes.”

Herrmann invited everyone to participate in the intramural sports program, as students can benefit in several ways.

“There’s a place for everyone,” she said. “They can learn to compete, to discipline themselves, to sacrifice for their teammates. They can learn to be challenged, and they can learn to control their emotions. …We want everyone to participate, and we don’t want to belittle anyone’s experience.”

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