On Sunday, Oct. 4, Netflix and Chill FC and Dirty Birds FC faced off in a crucial midseason match as part of the University’s intramural soccer A-league. After two 22 minute halves of back and forth play with strong defense, near misses, and an action packed five-minute golden goal overtime, the game was scoreless. With the student referees needing to turn in for the day, the game went to soccer’s most iconic spectacle, the penalty shootout.
The Dirty Birds players, clad in red Under Armor t-shirts, are also members of the University’s varsity lacrosse team. They huddled on one side of the net while the first-year Cardinals from Netflix and Chill FC banded together on the other side chanting “Stick to lax!” With each kick one team would whoop and holler while the players from the other would pat each other on the back in consolation. After eight rounds of PKs, the Dirty Birds edged out Netflix and Chill. The match was the epitome of intramural sports at the University, a tradition that’s been part of the Wesleyan experience since the early 20th century.
In fact, just a couple of decades after varsity athletics such as football and baseball were introduced at the University, intramurals became seen as a more important way to foster the ideals of athletic participation. Physical Instruction Professor Edgar Fauver elaborated on the importance of intramural competition in a speech at DKE that was recorded in the Oct. 12, 1911 edition of the Argus.
“My desire… is that each man in college shall be compelled or at least able to join in some sports,” he told The Argus 104 years ago. “I want an organization of class and fraternity teams, which shall be all-inclusive and at the end of the year to have that class or fraternity which has the largest average of victories in all the sports to be given a cup or banner.”
Today, intramurals play a relatively small role compared varsity sports within the Wesleyan community, but the benefits of organized friendly competition between groups of students remains.
Commissioner Gus Greenberg ’17 also plays on the varsity men’s lacrosse team, and has firsthand experience of the difference between varsity sports and intramurals.
“Intramural sports are so fun,” he said. “It’s much more laid back and relaxing to come out here and play. Lacrosse is ‘go go go,’ you gotta train, but this is like a break from reality.”
As commissioner of the league, Greenberg organizes games for students who may or may not have the chance to play a varsity sport. As described by Vabuk Pahari ’19, captain of Netflix and Chill FC, one of the most important aspects of playing intramurals is being part of a team.
“It’s not about winning,” Pahari said “It’s about camaraderie, dude. That’s why I love intramural soccer.”
The teams that make up the intramural soccer league are composed of unique groups of players from dorms, other varsity sports teams, fraternities, and even the club soccer team. Fritzgi Dessources ’18 is a member of a team called KOR.
“A lot of the guys that I play with are part of club soccer,” said Dessources. “And a lot of them are just friends that I have been playing pickup soccer with.”
Wesleyan offers two levels of leagues this fall, and the level of competition varies team by team.
“It’s as competitive as you want it to be,” said Wesley Villano ’19, a member of Netflix and Chill. “You can go out and play super hard or you can go out and chill like we do.”
Additionally, Dessources stated that the competitiveness of intramural soccer varies match by match.
“Sometimes you have two good teams and the level of soccer is going to be really competitive and really pretty,” said Dessources. “But if the team is not that skillful, it won’t be as good.”
Unfortunately, intramural sports at Wesleyan are not without their challenges. Greenberg struggles with making sure that teams show up with enough players. On October 11, in week five of the league, two out of three games were forfeited. Additionally, there are no female players in the A league, and only a few in the C league. Greenberg says that he would like more girls to play, but is unsure of how to attract them.
Despite these downfalls, playing intramural sports on Sunday afternoons provides a great way to stay in shape and be part of a team. If you didn’t get to play this fall, make sure to get a team together for basketball, which starts on November 22.
The current soccer season is quickly winding down, and the postseason is approaching.
“Playoffs are gonna be crazy” said Greenberg half-sarcastically. “Completely crazy.”
The playoff tournament will take place on Sunday, Nov. 1, and all teams will be entered in a three-round tournament.