Intramurals and the shaping of the whole person

BY: ELENA LUKE

With the start of a new school year, classes, schedules and looming exams fill the thoughts of most students as they struggle to adjust to the responsibilities of college life. In the effort to stay on top of homework, however, many forget the importance of exercising the body as well as the mind.

While some are gifted with the physical talent to play intercollegiate sports, the rest of us struggle to walk the hill following a Sandella’s visit. Likewise, it is difficult to find the motivation to participate in athletic ventures when the thought of stepping on a treadmill drives you to Jazzman’s for a smoothie to calm your nerves.

So, if you are unable to participate in intercollegiate sports but dislike the thought of visiting the cardio room, what can on-campus outlet can you find for strengthening the body so as to become a well-rounded individual? The answer? Intramurals.

When I came to Franciscan last fall I was actually already interested in intramurals simply because, despite having played sports in high school, the thought of intercollegiate athletics was too intimidating. I was unprepared, however, for flag football, a sport I didn’t even understand let alone have a desire to play.

Somehow, despite my protests, I was talked into joining a squad of freshman girls called the Benchwarmers. At our very first practice, we scrimmaged in the pouring rain, an experience that did nothing to improve my opinion of football, but I decided to give it another chance. Needless to say, I was quickly forced to learn the rules of the game. Not only that, but I soon began to look forward to our somewhat sporadic practices and fun-filled games on the muddy intramural fields.

When a bunch of inexperienced girls are forced to work together to preserve their fragile, freshman reputation on a football field, a certain camaraderie is formed. The friendships made while attempting what seemed to us to be difficult plays (but in reality are probably pre-requisites for peewee football) were special to say the least, and the team began to grow close off the field as well as on.

Team dinners, post-game mud fights, and tie-dye t-shirt parties filled our first semester of college and transformed us from unsure ‘newbies’ to seasoned ‘Frannies.’ By the end of the season we even had a shot at semi-finals, but the important things were the relationships and support found in our close-knit team.

The ‘team’ aspect of intramurals is just one of the benefits. Another, perhaps more obvious one, is the physical exercise involved. Regardless of the sport, the unique competitive spirit of intramural games between friends spurs even the least-enthused athlete on to feats of physical prowess that could only be inspired by a shameless desire to emerge victorious (all for the glory of God, of course).

The subsequent practices and increasingly intense games provide enough of a challenge for the experienced athlete. Yet, every person, at whatever level of expertise, becomes a valuable asset on a team of mixed abilities, because all are focused on a spiritual prize as well as physical.

In this way, the shaping of the whole person becomes the order of the day, and students of all backgrounds can grow in the area where they are weakest. So, as the intramural flag football season looms ahead, I encourage you to find a team and get involved. Households are always willing to strengthen their teams with extra players. Or you can gather a group of friends and form a team of your own.

What starts out as a literal “leap of faith” may leave you feeling an abundance of both physical and spiritual blessings.

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