Meg Schmitt, schmittm@grinnell.edu

Sporty and non-sporty, competitive and recreational, Grinnell’s intramural sports program is pretty well-rounded. Offering dozens of sports and activities each year, the spring semester is kicking off with some of the most popular.

“We have four of our most popular leagues [coming up, including] flag football, basketball, soccer and sand volleyball,” said intramurals organizer Jason Ormond ’13.

The intramurals program at Grinnell is offered year-round to all Grinnell students, faculty and staff as a fun and informal opportunity to get some exercise and enjoy themselves.

“The more the merrier—all of us that are running and participating in the intramural sports program want everyone to feel welcome to participate,” said Tim Hammond, Director of Intramural Sports.

The organizing team works to ensure a proper array of sports is offered, including many newer options.

“Every year, we’ve got one or two tournaments that we filter in. Like this year, we tried pickleball,” Ormond said.

Where do they get their ideas?

“[Mostly] from peer institutions…but sometimes we get students who ask [about different sports],” Ormond said.

In fact, the intramurals program works hard to offer a diversity of new options every year. One of their most eccentric perhaps, was water-borne.

“Inner tube water polo has probably got to be one of the most unorthodox [that we’ve offered],” Ormond said. “It’s huge at other Big 10 schools.”

Organizers welcome new ideas enthusiastically, and experimental sports offer some entertaining and often surprising results in terms of popularity.

“Every year we’ll try three or four random sports to see if it sticks…year-by-year we try to see [what’s popular],” Ormond said.

Past examples range from the croquet phase several years ago to the new and exciting Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament held last semester.

“We like the idea of a ton of students in the JRC Lobby just doing Rock, Paper, Scissors,” Ormond said.

Intramural sports encourage participation across the social and skill level board, including varsity athletes, faculty and first-timers. In fact, the intramural leagues want to see more representation from women and faculty especially.

“One thing we’ve been trying to work on is we’ve got probably two-thirds male participants to one-third female,” Ormond said.

Similarly, Hammond reports that only 8% of participants in the sports are faculty members, despite intramurals being open to anyone employed at or attending the College.

Why join an intramural sport? The exercise and social hours within intramural sports are no insignificant factor in their popularity.

“Simply by participating in intramural sports ,you can get 2-5 individual exercise sessions in one week,” Hammond said.

With about a quarter of the school participating in intramural activities at one point or another last year, the emphasis is on inclusivity.

“Because anyone can do it, like [with] any of these sports it’s more for fun than anything,” Ormond said.

The open leagues and registration are readily available online, through grinnell.athleague.com, which will transition sometime next year to IMleagues. For now though, opportunities abound in any number of sports for any level of time commitment, whether a full league with twice-a-week practice or single-day tournaments.