Another successful year for IM sports

Kyle Flannery

While it’s nearly impossible to cross Ankeny in the spring without hearing the raucous sounds of an intramural football game or the buzz of a Frisbee, it is easy to forget how much work goes into making IM sports happen year in and year out. An entirely student-run entity, the IM Committee, along with team captains, ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible. That is a tall order, especially when coordinating and scheduling a multitude of sports and teams. The IM League is also about continually improving the state of IM sports, keeping participation high and adding to the array of sports available here at Whitman.

Photo by Hannah Bashevkin.
Photo by Hannah Bashevkin.

Notable changes in IM sports over the past two years have been the addition of a ping-pong league and an online scheduling program called IMLeagues that has streamlined the formation of teams and game scheduling all across the country. Both changes have been whopping successes. One of the IM coordinators, senior Julianna Wetmore, spoke to how important IMLeagues has been in revolutionizing IM here at Whitman.

“When I first started we weren’t using IMLeagues,” she said. “Brian Choe ‘14 researched IMLeagues and brought it to Whitman in 2014, which has been the best thing to happen to IM Sports.”

Alongside dodgeball, putt-putt golf used to be an option as a second semester winter sport. However, the local company Sweet Putt recently closed down, leaving a dearth of sports during the winter. The IM Committee decided to replace it with ping-pong, and initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Twenty-five two-person teams participated this year. By using the residence halls (which possess sufficient equipment) as arenas for competition, it was a quick and easy addition to the IM League’s repertoire –– essentially a no-brainer.

The goal of the IM Committee is to identify ways to keep improving everything about IM, but what makes its members want to adopt such a leadership position? Senior Zane MacPhee explained his motivation.

Photo by Hannah Bashevkin.
Photo by Hannah Bashevkin.

“I had such a positive experience my first year-and-a-half at Whitman, winning a couple of blue shirts. I wanted to be a part of it on the other side,” he said.

In the eyes of many students involved in IM Sports, competing for that blue shirt is a quintessential Whitman experience. Although MacPhee has been fortunate enough to come home with a few, not everyone has been so lucky, but that’s not what IM is about at its core. Instead, it’s about the relationships within and amongst teams.

“I enjoyed having a team with my freshmen section. It gets harder to meet up, but because we had the team last year we made sure to do it again this year,” said sophomore Ari Knops, team captain of soccer and ping-pong.

This reveals a trend amongst IM teams to stick together all four years at Whitman. While paths can tend to diverge after a first year, IM represents a way to maintain friendships, develop and improve as a team, and hopefully compete for the blue.

Some improvements for the future of IM include increasing participation amongst the first-year class, which was unusually low this year. This could be accomplished by better advertising, and an especially key area, contacting resident assistants to have section meetings about forming teams. Another year-to-year problem is team captains organizing large teams (i.e. softball and football) and teams forfeiting at the last minute due to lack of team members. Transparency between the committee and team captains is essential. In ping-pong, a necessary change seems to be a division one and division two league to differentiate between radically different skill levels, as well as a flexibility by the committee to change rules in-season, an issue that became apparent over altering shots in doubles ping-pong. Furthermore, a bowling league may be a pleasant addition.

Photo by Hannah Bashevkin.
Photo by Hannah Bashevkin.