The 2021-22 Bates Intramural (IM) basketball season has come to an end. The COVID-19 pandemic shut down most club and intramural sports at the college in 2020, so for the league to have had such an incredibly successful first season back is impressive.
With 20 teams in the league, over 100 Bates students were able to join a team. The sheer number of players participating meant that competing for the semifinals was no easy feat, but on March 30, four teams prevailed nonetheless.
The environment in Alumni that night was truly astounding. Fans were sitting and standing on both sides of the bleachers, and students were loudly cheering for their friends who had made it this far. One fan, junior Alec Szwarcewicz, said, “I can’t believe how many people came to watch. I thought I was going to be the only one. It kind of makes me wish that I had signed up, which I strongly considered doing.”
Senior Owen Keleher expressed a similar sentiment: “This environment is amazing, I definitely should have made a team.”
The looks on people’s faces were enough to infer that a number of other students were feeling the same way. People love suiting up for athletic competition in front of their friends — it’s just human nature.
The fans weren’t the only students that were surprised by the turnout, though. Senior Wilder Geier, part of the team that lost in the finals, said he “thought [the IM games] would be in dusty gyms, what I didn’t expect was the hundreds of fans that came out to support us.”
Geier enjoyed being able to play in the gym where the varsity players compete as opposed to the Gray Cage, which has been known to make a few people slip and fall.
Evan Wells, a first-year student and finalist, commented on the IM season: “It’s been great … When the fans show up, it’s a lot of fun … It’s great that people who have never played before have the experience of playing.”
The mix of skill levels at IM was fascinating to witness. Some players seemed to have been great high school players or could have even played college ball, while others appeared to have been playing basketball for the first time. This is what makes IM basketball so special, though, because the love of the game — not skill — is the only thing that matters.
Senior football player Jackson Hayes was one member on the championship winning team that particularly stood out. His first step was virtually impossible for opponents to stay in front of, and he used his exceptional athleticism to carry his team to some free T-shirts.
There is no doubt that Hayes could have played basketball at the Division III level, so it’s great that he had the opportunity to play some competitive ball despite the fact that his focus for the past four years has been football.
The environment on Wednesday night will only encourage more people to join IM basketball next season, which is great for the culture at Bates. With such a physically active campus, there is no doubt that the number of fans and the energy at these games will push more Bates students to take a leap of faith and create a team for the 2022-23 IM basketball season.