Professors find spots on intramural sports teams

By on October 24, 2017

Photo courtesy of Richard Hanley
For about three seasons, Associate Professor of Journalism Richard Hanley and Professor of History Michael Chiarappa have been playing on Quinnipiac’s intramural ice hockey team, “The Mighty Ducts.”

It all started at an ice hockey rink.

“We were at public skating and students on the intramural hockey medical school team were about to go on the ice and we started talking to them,” Chiarappa said. “They told us we were welcome to join their team the following semester and we agreed.”

Both professors share a love for hockey and have prior experience in it. They thought it would be an enjoyable experience to continue to play the sport. What they didn’t know is how positive the reaction would be. The students have been welcoming to the professors since they joined.

“They are just all around a positive force on the team’s energy,” Joshua Finley, a graduate student and captain of the intramural hockey team said. “They never miss a game and always have a good time.”

From the moment they joined, the professors have been considered dedicated members of the team. They show up when told, try hard and bring an upbeat, contagious energy with them. The professors have made it easy for the students to embrace their involvement.

“The students genuinely accept us playing,” Chiarappa said.

The professors seem to enjoy being on the team just as much as the students like having them. Hanley feels appreciative to have been given the chance to continue to play a sport they love with their students.

“It is a great experience,” Hanley said. “I am very grateful for having the opportunity to play.”

Playing the sport has not only had a positive effect on the professors personal lives, but their careers as well. The professors have learned from the students.

“It provides a different platform to get to know our students,” Hanley said. “Because of that, I have become a better teacher.”

It isn’t all about having fun playing the sport, according to Chiarappa. It is also about forming meaningful relationships with teammates. The professors and students have created long lasting bonds from opening the communication.

“It creates an informal atmosphere where we are also having some really nice and deep interactions,” Chiarappa said.

The experience lowers the barrier between professors and students. It allows for professors and students to interact less formally than how they do traditionally. The result is a more organic and holistic community, according to the professors.

With an open means of communication, the only thing still separating the professors from the students is their age. However, it does not seem to be much of an issue, according to Finley.

“I might say that they get tired more quickly than some of the younger players,” Finley said. “But then again I think even us older students are more ‘past our prime’ then we would like to admit.”

The professors said they are not playing to be great players. They are in it for the enjoyment, competition and fun.

“I have always just liked to play and as long as my health holds out I will continue to,” Hanley said. “I am not as fast as they are, but I can skate around.”

Finley said it is fun to see players on the other team react when they play against their professors.

According to Finley, the professors are better than they think. There are a lot of moments on the ice where they have showed off their raw talent.

“One recent game a loose puck went into the corner, and Professor Hanley basically just played the body of some poor undergraduate,” Finley said. “Last year Professor Chiarappa scored a beauty of a goal in the last five seconds of the game… it was magical.”

Chiarappa and Hanley are only two of the many professors to participate in intramural sports.

“We see a handful of professors every year,” Associate Athletic Director of Intramurals and Adjunct Professor Mike Medina said. “This semester we have 11 people who have identified as faculty or staff who are playing.”

According to Medina, most of the 11 professors play on the professor’s volleyball team.

With all the excitement, the professors have gotten from the thrill of the game, Hanely recommends this experience to other professors even remotely interested.

“I encourage all professors if they have the inclination to take part in activities with students that are open to them,” Hanley said. “It just gives us a chance to get to know our students better in a less formal way.”

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