A slam dunk

Quinnipiac’s intramurals allow students to play what they love without sacrificing competition

By on February 22, 2017
DSC_0904Caitlin Cryan | The Quinnipiac Chronicle

National Geographic describes the bobcat as a solitary and nocturnal creature. The latter may be true, but at the Quinnipiac athletic center, the Bobcats are anything but solitary and isolated.

Winter intramural sports are in full swing at Quinnipiac, highlighted by a five-on-five basketball league that offers men’s, women’s and coed leagues, totaling up to over 550 participants spread out across 70 teams. On Sunday through Thursday nights, Quinnipiac students pour into the athletic center to “lace ‘em up” and hit the hardwood for some (mostly) friendly competition. On some evening hours during the week, there will be four games going on at once to handle the high volume of participation.

Thanks to the work by Associate Athletic Director Michael Medina and his group of work study students, these weeknight games are as close to the real deal as it gets.

Each intramural game has two referees and two statisticians. The statisticians keep up with the scoreboard while checking players into the game. The regular season rosters, stats and standings are all recorded and kept on the intramural mega-site IMLeagues.com.

Players and students can access the site to keep up with other teams in their division and to see who they are playing next. They can also look at the rosters of each team and what players have been participating the most in terms of games played. All that’s missing is a TV contract and commercial endorsements.

As for the students officiating the games, they are by no means unqualified for the job. Medina makes sure they are properly trained, confident to bear the whistle and make the tough calls when necessary.

“We work a lot on positioning,” Medina said of the training regimen. “We use a lot of video clips from NCAA and NBA games to give them different looks on screen. We want to make sure that our staff is meeting the needs of the high level of competition that students want to play in.”

The strict training process gives future referees an immediate sense of confidence.

“Mr. Medina walks us through everything that we need to know,” student referee Joey Torgersen said. “He always makes sure that we are prepared for the regular season. After film, we would meet in the gym to go over some live training, which included hands-on information regarding basketball violations, hand signals, etiquette, technicalities and more. By the time the first game came around, I felt extremely prepared to referee.”

Of course, one can only be so prepared for when the competitive level boils over, mostly at the expense of the refs, regardless of their experience.

DSC_0874Caitlin Cryan | The Quinnipiac Chronicle

“A lot of experienced referees on the staff dread intramural basketball season due to the fact that it comes with a lot of commotion,” Torgersen said. “[Basketball] players definitely create the most tension toward referees compared to any other intramural sport. There is a ton of talking back toward the referees, which is not always fun to deal with.”

That intense level of competition should not to be overlooked. It is an intramural league, but don’t tell the players that, especially senior cross country runner and cornerstone of the “Sloppy Waiters” (because they drop trays, get it?), Dylan Fearon.

“The competition level is extremely high,” Fearon said. “There are some crazy good teams every year, and it is so tough to get past the Elite 8.”

The Elite 8 is part of a bracket-format playoff system for each of the leagues that come to a thrilling climax: a championship game at TD Bank Sports Center. However, the road to York Hill is a daunting one given the surprising talent level that many of the leagues have on display.

“A lot of the players here come from former varsity programs at their high school or high level prep schools and have decided to come here instead playing in a Division II or Division III school because they like the academic reputation of Quinnipiac,” Medina said. “There’s a very high level of talent competing in our intramural program.”

Torgersen notices the high level of play on the court as well.

“Intramural basketball is extremely competitive,” he said. “A lot of players played throughout their high years and enjoy the fact that they get to play at a competitive level again.”

The impressive level of competition and authentic feel of the games has even caught the attention of some of the student body.

“The atmosphere is terrific,” Fearon said. “My team always has a good following and brings fans to the games. We get the women’s cross country team to show up, and a bunch of our other friends. It gets loud for the games.”

DSC_0872Caitlin Cryan | The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Medina is particularly impressed with the turnout come playoff time, which will begin at the end of March.

“You’ll see friends and students’ families come to see our championship games up on the big court,” he said. “It’s a really cool experience for our students to be able to play in that arena.”

Above the crowds, fancy website and authentic feel to the game, many students find a special joy in just having a platform to once again play a game they love. These leagues are just another way to heighten the college experience, give students a deeper sense of community and perhaps some occasional trash-talk.

For some players who thought their competitive basketball days were over, they have found their own version of “Field of Dreams” at Quinnipiac. The athletic center is their isolated baseball field in the corn fields of Iowa (maybe without the creepy voices telling them to ease James Earl Jones’ pain). Overall, the description of the intramural experience has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I love playing intramurals,” Fearon said. “Even as a cross country runner, basketball is still my favorite sport by far. It’s fun playing with my best friends and teammates.”

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