With some sport seasons on hold and others up in the air, the few sports that are currently happening at Alma College are taking on a new and safe look. Fall sports, such as football, soccer, cross country and volleyball, may be getting pushed into the spring season, but one lucky sport, Esports, is gearing to start their fall season.
With their sport predominantly taking place online, Esports players are in the clear when it comes to Covid-19 restrictions and are set to have a smooth sailing season.
“Last year many of the Esports teams were forced to end their seasons early and we were forced to cut off the tail end of our season because of Covid,” said senior Esports player, Nolan Rowland (’21). “This year we are planning on going ahead with the full season and are, thankfully, able to practice together while still abiding by the rules set by the college,” said Rowland.
With their 2020 season coming to an abrupt end, the Esports team looks to cherish every moment of their upcoming season, which escaped the postponement many other fall sports fell victim to.
On September 17, the Esports team kicked off their season against Davenport university with their League of Legends team. This was their first match of the regular season as they strive towards becoming GG League Champions again.
“The type of Esport depends on the game being played, but for League of Legends, the matches consist of two teams of five players, with each player choosing a unique champion,” said Rowland. “The goal is to destroy the opposing team’s Nexus, a structure that lies at the heart of their base, which is protected by defensive structures.” In this match, Rowland led the team with six assists and deaths as well as twelve eliminations.
Although the team fell to Davenport 2-0, the team remains optimistic and looks hopeful towards the rest of their season and upcoming match against Western Illinois University on October 1.
“While we were not able to beat Davenport this time, we learned very valuable lessons from those matches, and we are not necessarily expecting immediate results at the beginning of the season,” said Rowland. “While we have some veterans on the team, we are still quite new and I believe once we develop more chemistry, we should have no problem finding success for the rest of the season.”
As Esports continues to make its way through their season, many other athletes have found themselves with more free time than usual in the wake of many sports being put on hold. With campus looking quieter these days, Alma’s Recreational Center is finding ways to keep students active and safe through the use of intramural (IM) sports.
While IM sports occur throughout the school year, the need for activity and student interaction has placed high interest on the need for fall season IM sports.
“Covid has really put a strain on all activities,” said IM Student Assistant, Jarod Arendsen (’22). “We have implemented a number of regulations and policies to safely play IM sports. Before students can play, they must show their green check marks for their daily health screening. If they don’t have them, we have a temperature gun so they can get their temperature. We also are enforcing that everyone wears a mask while participating in IM sports along with adhering to social distancing.”
Along with these new regulations, new changes have also been made to the set-up of the competitions. Although the games may be running differently, the typical sports of basketball, volleyball, softball, kickball, pickle ball and soccer as well as some other smaller sports will still be offered.
“Before Covid, many IM sports would be a week or two long,” said Arendsen. “Each team would play in pool play for the first week and then go into a single elimination tournament. With Covid, we have had to make many changes. Since many sports you cannot socially distance, we have been limited to outdoor sports. We have been doing weekend tournaments. The number of participants depends on the sport. At each game, we have 1-2 referees to regulate the games and make sure they go smoothly.”
With the new adaptable competitions to current safety regulations, this enables not only the same sports students love and know to be offered, but it provides all students with the opportunity to participate. Even if students have never tried the sport before, it enables them to break out of their comfort zone and try something new—especially during a pandemic.
“I participate in the sports because of the social aspects,” said senior wrestler, Joseph Vondrasek (’21). “I do not fancy myself as competitive outside of wrestling, so I take the time to just enjoy the experience. Sometime the best part is making team jerseys and laughing when things go wrong!”
Although sports and many other on-campus activities may be postponed because of the pandemic, IM sports offer students the ability to not only stay active, but to stay connected and socialize in a time when social interaction is limited. It is something students can do safely and for fun.
“Alma students seem to be longing to have those casual social interactions that we know and love,” said Vondrasek. “Intramural sports create opportunities to socialize and be safe.”