As he sits watching a heated Galaxy intramural volleyball game, Randall Knox notices two familiar faces in the crowd. ACU intramural directors Kenli Edwards and Mark Jackson are enjoying the game with students in an effort to build community and promote interest in intramurals.
Intramural sports play a major part in the lives of college students around the country, and ACU is no different. For first-year directors Edwards and Jackson, keeping this attendance and interest growing has been complicated.
Since Edwards and Jackson have taken over, they said they have noticed an increase in the number of teams in each sport. One of the reasons for the additions is a more focused involvement between the directors and students, said Edwards, director of intramural sports.
One way the directors have become involved is by communicating more with students and trying to be as available as possible. They stay on campus to interact with students and make sure everyone is aware of each sport’s deadline. They have also increased the period to apply from one day to a week. Increased advertising for sports has led to greater awareness and given students more time to put a team together, said Jackson, assistant director of intramural sports.
“We have found that a lot of times, students won’t do a sport because they just don’t know about it,” Jackson said. “If we can inform the students better about the sports and deadline, then they will be more likely to participate.”
The pair also makes an effort to have one or both directors at every intramural event. While this may seem a tough task to tackle, they believe it is necessary to help build relationships with students.
“We really want to get to know the students more and see what things they like about the intramurals and what things they don’t like,” Edwards said. “We feel the best way to do that is by coming to watch them in action.”
Another reason attendance may have increased is because many people see intramurals as a way to meet new people. Making friends and developing closer relationships with friends was one reason Team Truman, an all-Chinese intramural basketball team, participated in intramurals this year, said team member Keith Wu, sophomore marketing major from Hong Kong.
In addition to becoming more involved with students, the directors have revamped certain sports and even resurrected an old fan favorite. Flag football was changed from a 7-on-7 man format to the faster-paced 6-on-6 style after numerous student suggestions to make the switch. Also, after the highly popular sport of waterball took a one-year hiatus, the directors decided to bring it back – another student suggestion.
“The changes to flag football and bringing waterball back were both recommended by the students,” Jackson said. “We felt that we should give the students their favorite sport back.”
Listening to the students -Â and getting responses -Â has been a key part of the directors’ early success. They conduct surveys and hand out questionnaires at the conclusion of every sport to get students’ feedback on what they liked and what needs to be improved on.
“We may be the directors of the intramurals, but these sports aren’t here for us; they’re here for the students,” Edwards said. “Every time we can get responses from students about things they don’t like, we do our best to change them and make it a better experience for them.”
Randall Knox, junior political science major from Granbury and avid Galaxy intramural fan, has noticed the directors’ dedication to students and appreciates their flexible attitude.
“Ever since they took over intramurals, I think Galaxy and most clubs have gotten a better sports experience. They are at pretty much every game and actually care what we have to say,” Knox said. “I think I speak for a lot of people when I say it has been great overall.”
With construction just beginning on the ACU Student Recreation and Wellness Center, intramural attendance should see yet another increase. The $21 million, 113,000-square-foot facility will add several more gyms and higher-quality sports facilities. This substantially upgraded venue has the intramural officials chomping at the bit.
“We are really excited about all of the new opportunities the Center brings,” Jackson said. “With so many new gyms and facilities, we will be able to add more sports and do more things that we couldn’t have done before.”
Providing the best intramural experience possible is something that requires a lot of flexibility and change. That change, Edwards says, is something that should be embraced.
“We know that in the future, people might change the way they want their intramurals,” Edwards said. “We have to be ready to make these changes, and we can’t just settle for the status quo.”