IM sports adapt to COVID-19


Nick Gainey

While many sports and other forms of recreation have come to a halt at Augustana, intramural sports have adapted to new challenges and have found a way to carry on.
After the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the remainder of winter and spring activities last academic year, Don Umland, Augustana’s campus recreation director, began planning for an uncertain and potentially difficult fall reopening.
Umland reached out to other recreation and intramural directors and learned what activities they planned to offer and what health and safety protocols would be put in place.
“We started developing some lists of things that people were considering,” Umland said. “So I took that list and ran with it, brought it to the intramural staff and shared with them what I thought was feasible.”
The fall semester has seen the intramural department put on various socially-distanced activities, including slow-pitch softball, sand volleyball, golf and many more. All of these activities have featured COVID-related procedures to ensure the safety of students.
“Each team had their own set of bats and designated team areas to help reduce contact between groups,” IM staffer Bailey Bambrick said about the softball league. “Masks were required at all times with teams sanitizing before every inning.”
The reimagined fall has been a wild success. Administration, staff and students have enjoyed the activities the department has put on, and participants have been able to put the struggles of the pandemic on hold to have fun. Students have also felt safe while participating.
Sophomore Megan Frost played on Chi Omega Gamma’s softball team and was satisfied with the way the league was run.
“Yes, definitely,” Frost answered when asked if she felt comfortable participating. She cited the frequent sanitation and separate equipment per team as effective safety procedures.
As the weather gets colder and activities are forced inside, the department faces new challenges, such as figuring out new ways to social distance. The most popular intramural sport, basketball, is not likely to be played.
“With the weather forcing us inside, we have to scale down the size of our events and make sure there are multiple time slots for the events so there are not a lot of students in the building,” Bambrick said.
However, that doesn’t mean PepsiCo will be empty.
“We still have the intention of running pickleball and badminton tournaments indoors,” Umland said. “We’ll have flights of people coming in so we’ll only have so many people.”
In a time where many activities are cancelled, intramural sports have provided Augustana students something to enjoy in a difficult semester.