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Intramural sports rise in popularity

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Photo by Rohan Bhatia/The Campanile

Sweat beads down sophomore Joseph Kessler’s face as he sprints around the soccer pitch. Dribbling the ball, he dances around defenders before crossing into the box. Kessler may just sound like any other soccer player. The difference? He doesn’t play competitive soccer and isn’t even on the soccer team.

Facing frustration with limited options for casual sports, a group of sophomores has created an independent soccer league, allowing students to immerse themselves in this competitive outlet while avoiding the drawbacks that they say comes with school sports.

Many high schools, colleges and universities offer intramural leagues, an opportunity for students to play organized sports in a recreational environment.

However, Paly typically does not offer many opportunities for competing in intramural sports. The senior spikeball tournament that wrapped up two weeks ago is one of few this year, and it was only available to seniors.

Kessler said he was frustrated with the lack of ASB-sponsored intramurals.

“I dislike that Paly doesn’t offer more intramural sports since it’s a good way to build a better community for the school,” Kessler said. “Intramural sports are a good way for students to build relationships while having fun and competing.”

At the moment, one of few options for students who enjoy sports is to join an official school sports team, but these teams often have selective tryout processes and upwards of 10 to 15 hours of practice each week. The dedication required makes it nearly impossible for those who are more casual about a sport to just have fun playing.

One of the new league’s commissioners, sophomore Dexter Cleveringa, said he was motivated to start the league to help relieve people from the pressure of school sports.

“The idea stemmed from playing sports with friends in a low-stress environment, something that gets away from the high intensity conditions of high school sports,” Cleveringa said.

Sophomore Roan Haney, who is also a league commissioner, said he wanted to create the soccer league to allow students to enjoy the sport leisurely.

“It’s great to try new things and have fun learning new skills, so I started this league for people who want to do that,” Haney said.
To emphasize the league’s casual and low stakes nature, the commissioners modified the rules of the game.

The goals are 50 yards apart, as compared to the usual 120 yards. The game is played in two halves that are each 30 minutes instead of 45. If the two teams are tied after 60 minutes, the game goes straight to a penalty shootout rather than extra time.

Kessler said his experience in the soccer league is more oriented towards fun.

“There is no practice required, so it is very easy for people to just play in the games,” Kessler said. “The focus of the league is to not have people with significant soccer experience dominate. We just try to have a good time.”

Cleveringa also said the league is a great opportunity to meet new people.

“We thought the league would be a lighthearted and fun way to bring different friend groups together,” Cleveringa said.

At the same time, students who are frustrated with the lack of sports options at Paly may not have to wait long for new opportunities. ASB Vice President Felicia Lee said there are plans in the works for more recreational sports.

“We are collaborating with the ultimate frisbee team for Primetime,” Lee said. “We’re also thinking of taking the volleyball net out to the quad.”

However, even with ASB creating new events, Cleveringa said he thinks it is important that students are the ones controlling the league rather than ASB.

“Our league works because we’re pretty casual and make it up as we go,” Cleveringa said. “We can schedule games working around our extracurriculars. A larger organization like ASB would have to satisfy the needs of a broader population, (and) scheduling would be far more difficult.”

Sophomore Ella Hwang participates in the league, and she also said she enjoys it more because it isn’t run by ASB.

“It’s more laid back,” Hwang said. “We can (play games) whenever we want.”

Because students run the show, Haney said the commissioners are able to effectively create an opportunity for anyone to play sports for enjoyment.

Haney said, “Everyone takes it light-hearted and has a lot of fun, and we make things easy with no skill requirement to play.”

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Rohan Bhatia, Sports Editor
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