This article previously appeared on News@Northeastern. It was written by Peter Ramjug.
Northeastern plans to resume cornhole, spikeball, badminton, and other intramural sports on Thursday, the first in-person intramurals since last year's lockdown. Isolated students who have been keeping in shape with virtual fitness classes and at-home workouts say they can't wait for the camaraderie of face-to-face competition.
Registration is underway for approximately eight non-contact intramurals that can be held safely under pandemic health protocols, says Jack Butler, assistant director of campus recreation, intramural sports and facilities. The recreational activities offer students a chance to get up and move again while keeping a distance from others, he adds. Masks are required.
Intramural sports are typically played at several locations throughout campus, including Matthews Arena or the sand volleyball court between Willis Hall and West Village F, but that site is now an outdoor dining tent. Instead, activities will take place at Marino Recreation Center, SquashBusters, and Carter Field.
More than 5,000 students were signed up and ready to go for intramurals last year before the pandemic halted everything. About 60 are currently registered for the spring, and that number likely will rise as word spreads, says Butler.
Sarah Baker and Darin O'Meara have played intramural soccer the last few years, but the sport won't be offered in the spring because of distancing requirements. The students will try other activities instead.
“I miss competing in person, but I also want to stay safe, so I am very understanding of the limitations on activities,” says Baker, a third-year who is studying biology and math. She walked every day for exercise after returning home early last year, then added powerlifting to her repertoire once she returned to the Boston campus and gyms reopened.
“I will hopefully make a cornhole team because I love to play,” she says.
O'Meara is looking to play volleyball, which he played during quarantine.
“In-person competition is something I thrive off of,” the fourth-year games major says. “Adrenaline runs high and I get to try and outdo opponents.”
Club sports, which compete against other schools, have been up and running in varying degrees since the fall, says Nick Avery, associate director of club sports and Esports, but March and April see a groundswell of action.
About 50 of Northeastern's 64 club sports offerings will be in-person this semester, including archery, running, and tennis. During a frigid day in late February, nets were installed on the five tennis courts at Carter Playground while work crews shoveled lingering mounds of snow, revealing the courts' white lines.
For some student-athletes, it will be the first time in a year they are touching a ball.
Women's rugby player Dulani Kankanamge missed being able to socialize with teammates at practice and games when club sports went dark in the spring of 2020. But this year team members will compete against one another in all-day workouts during the weekend.
“These are bonding events,” says the fourth-year, who joined the team as a freshman.
The women's team is open to anyone who is interested and doesn't hold tryouts. The squad usually starts conference play in the beginning of March, with the goal of receiving a bid to nationals in September.
The players spent the last semester virtually going over skills, strategies, and reviewing game film. They are now able to implement these skills in person. “It has been great to be able to meet some of our new players face-to-face,” Kankanamge says.
Some sports, however, will remain virtual for the time being.
Gymnastics, which usually holds meets in February and March, won't be having any in-person competitions with other schools this semester, says Cara Sciorilli, president of Club Gymnastics. Virtual meets will be held for gymnasts to maintain a competitive edge.
The Northeastern squad includes about 19 women, and they have been holding workout sessions together. Plans are underway for an internal team meet within the next month, adds Sciorilli, a fifth-year studying computer science and business administration with a concentration in finance.
“I missed my teammates the most,” she says. “Although it looks different now, including only being able to see half my teammates' faces with masks, Wednesdays and Sundays are still my favorite days of the week because I get to see my favorite people.”