Another season of intramural softball at UT is underway after opening day this weekend.
Teams will face off over the five weeks of regular season play, vying for a spot in the playoffs. The spring sport, which features nine different divisions, attracts hundreds of students to an often light-hearted but competitive season.
“Intramural softball and intramural sports in general are great because you can have any skill level, any kind of person, come together,” said business honors and accounting junior Tommy Garber. “Everyone’s welcome to play.”
Second-year MBA student Douglas Flanagan, captain of coed team None of Your Business and men’s team Business as Usual believes intramural softball draws people in because of its mix of fun, fitness and competition.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Flanagan said. “It’s a great way for people to get outside … and play a competitive game [while keeping] it fun, keep[ing] it light and having a social experience while having an athletic experience.”
Each team plays four games against teams in its division, and the division winner moves on to the playoffs. From there, it’s a bracket tournament, with the winning team earning T-shirts and a spot on the Gregory Gym Wall of Fame.
“It’s a single elimination tournament where you play until you lose,” Garber said. “If you can win three or four games, you can get crowned the champions, and you go down in history.”
With the stakes so high, finance junior Lee Friedman, a catcher for the Jelly Donuts, said the teams can get aggressive during postseason games.
“It’s pretty competitive at times,” Friedman said. “Some people really want to win. Others are just there for fun, but it can get pretty competitive and uptight, especially during the playoffs.”
Several of the teams participating this season are veterans to the league, having competed in the past years with many of the same players, including both of Flanagan’s teams. Garber believes this bond only adds to the experience.
“My teammates are honestly some of my best friends, and we do a lot more than just sports together,” Garber said. “But sports has definitely been an avenue where I’ve met these guys and got to know them better.”
While many teams are composed of friends or members of clubs or organizations, there is a free agent list of participants who are eager to play the sport despite not having a team. Captains regularly use this list to fill remaining spots to their teams.
“I think the best thing about intramurals is that anyone can do it,” Garber said. “Even if you don’t have an organization or group to sign up with, they have a free agent list … and captains … can pick you up, so that’s another good way to meet a random group that you might end up becoming friends with.”
Softball and other intramural sports give students a way to continue playing sports they had to leave when coming to college, with the excitement of actual games without the monotony of practice.
“It’s the fun aspects of all the sports you played growing up,” said Jacob Lodinger, a supply chain management junior and third baseman for the Jelly Donuts. “You don’t have to do the boring aspects. You get to just go out and have some fun and compete.”