Club and intramural sports foster spirit and community
Graduate seniors, coaches and administrators share joyful moments from the Dartmouth club and intramural sports.
This article is featured in the special issue Commencement & Reunions 2022.
This year, members of the Class of 2022 competed in 33 club sports and competed in intramural leagues and events during all three terms. According to the Office of Campus Life, three-quarters of students participate in some form of athletics – and Dartmouth club and intramural athletes outnumber varsity players by more than two to one.
However, the College on the Hill did not always support athletics as it does today. Early in the College’s history, the administration hoped to discourage students from playing games, directing them instead to “more useful” pursuits like manual, agricultural and academic work, according to Dartmouth College’s first code of law. .
Students protested against this regulation in the mid to late 1830s, when “football” matches – which involved teams of well over eleven players and the object of which was essentially to control the ball – broke out all the way of Green. Teams were often divided by class year or whether the student was a “Social” or a “Frater”, the two types of literary societies that provided social outlets on campus.
Former pupil Joseph Bartlett Eastman, a graduate of the class of 1843, wrote in a letter to his family: “It seems there was some sort of contest in Hanover between the Quacks and the Juniors, but I imagine that it will turn out to be ‘much noise and little wool’, as the devil said when he shaved the pigs.
Despite Bartlett’s prediction, the sport flourished among Big Green’s students. The founding of the NCAA in 1910 led to the concept of recruiting at the collegiate level – prompting the creation of club and intramural teams so that any student could play sports recreationally. Today, these teams still enjoy great popularity and success.
In the spring, the club’s women’s soccer team defeated Brown University to win the Ivy League championship. Women’s club soccer coach Stephen Severson ’74, who has coached the team since 2003, said he was proud of the team’s victory.
“We were watching Brown on the other court and they looked 10 feet tall and really strong,” he said. “We were a little nervous, but we got the win. They shot us 10 to three, but two of ours got in and none of theirs did.
Severson attributed much of the team’s unity and success to the promotion.
“They gave a very admirable tone of encouragement but no harshness,” he said. “I really appreciated how nice they have always been while being directive enough when needed. Our team is pretty laid back but still having a good time.
Former women’s club soccer captain Sophia Greszczuk ’22 said winning the Ivy League championship made her feel the same enthusiasm for the sport she had in high school.
“I feel like it’s a bit of a freshman thing [to join club sports] because you try to make friends and you try to continue being who you were in high school, but I came back in senior year because of the community,” she said.
Severson shared that team bonds are central to his coaching philosophy, exemplified by his in-depth website and gaming blog, texts to current and former players on their birthdays and team dinners at his home. .
“The team sees us [my family and I] as a resource outside of football,” he said. “It’s really a good thing to get off campus for a bit and have a home cooked dinner.”
The club’s men’s soccer team also made it to the finals of the Ivy League tournament this spring for the first time in its history. Former captain of the club’s men’s soccer team Matt Schnell ’22 said that, especially after the tournament, he felt grateful for his connections within the team.
“We played five games in two days which was exhausting but driving and staying in the hotel was so much fun,” he said. “It was my last real competitive football that I will probably be playing for a while, so I definitely tried to create a lasting memory this weekend.”
In addition to their leadership roles on their respective football teams, both Greszczuk and Schnell play several intramural sports. Greszczuk says soccer and his intramural hockey team are his two favorite things to do on campus.
“[Intramural hockey] sparked a genuine interest in hockey among my friends, and we had some great days practicing Occom,” she said. “We were all excited for the games and wore our Hawaiian shirts or other outfits to match.”
Schnell said he organized and played for intramural soccer, basketball, softball and flag football teams during his time at Dartmouth.
“I’m a super competitive person, so we’re definitely here to win, but it’s also lower stakes, which allows us to have a good time,” he said.
Intramural sports coordinator Mason Kaiser said he conducted research for his graduate program indicating that participation in intramural programs had significant positive effects on student happiness and achievement. in class.
“The Dartmouth method is very unique, but it’s very taxing on the students,” he said. “Putting something in place to get students out of their dorms and doing something active is the most rewarding part for me.”
Robert Crawford ’22, who says he has helped organize intramurals and played on the football, basketball, flag football, hockey and softball teams, finds intramurals to be extremely fun, whether someone has already practiced this sport or not.
“If you can get a team of 10 friends together, you have a designated weekly time to hang out,” he said.
Crawford said his last team, the Sachem Salamanders, made it to the intramural softball tournament final.
“I’ve played baseball all my life and it’s been great to see all my friends getting into the sport that I love,” he said.
Katie Smith ’22, who also played with the Sachem Salamanders, as well as in the intramural hockey league, said she thought the most fun part of her experience was when her team exceeded the expectations of the others as an outsider.
“We were mostly made up of people who had never played softball before,” she said. “Nobody expected to go far, so my most rewarding intramural memory was when we beat Team GDX ’24 in the semi-finals.”
Smith added that playing intramural sports in his senior year felt like getting back to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic.
John Weingart ’22, who said he has played intramural hockey, basketball, volleyball and flag football since his freshman year, added that intramurals gave him a sense of belonging to the campus.
“When I joined the freshman hockey team, I barely knew how to ice skate, so I was falling on my butt over and over again,” he said. “Our team was really bad – we lost about four games in a row – but when we finally won a game we popped a bottle of champagne outside the rink and started spraying it in celebration.”
Kaiser said he recognizes club and intramural competitions are important to the culture of the Dartmouth community.
“I finished a softball tournament last weekend, and there were three or four all-senior teams that had to take a minute knowing it was their last game together,” he said.
While it’s easy to dismiss club and intramural sports as low-level competition, the dedication students put into it represents a core spirit that is unique to Dartmouth and is alive and well in the Class of 2022. Perhaps the continued popularity of intramural sports in Dartmouth signifies the importance of community and quality time with friends – two things that are important to everyone.