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Illustration by Zohra Kassam

Intramural program tackles limitations head-on

Despite a growing student population, and a subsequent lack of athletic facilities, the University of Ottawa’s intramural program seems to be improving year after year. New leagues and increased availability have been top priorities for Sports Services.

With only one soccer field, two rinks, and four gyms at its disposal, it’s hard to imagine how the university’s intramural program could possibly cater to the 41,000-plus students in attendance. Throw in the fact that these facilities must be shared among intramurals, varsity teams, and academic programs and you’ve got yourself a bit of a puzzle. Nonetheless, intramural program manager Michel Drapeau is determined to continue expanding the program to match the demand of the student population.

A combination of innovation and creativity has allowed the program to expand from 336 teams in 2005–06 to 425 in the past school year, with only one facility—Lees Gym D—added in 2007. After taking great care to study the operations of certain leagues in order to adapt them to a larger demand, Sports Services will continue to offer extra football and dodgeball leagues.

“We’ve been offering 10 [flag football] teams for three years now, and we can’t get additional facilities,” explained Drapeau. “So what we did was we … studied the size of the fields [to] see if it was possible to operate two leagues side by side. It’s actually feasible, and it’s safe.”

The same strategy will be applied to dodgeball, which will now be played five-on-five in a half-gym as games last year dragged on due to the size of the playing space.

There are also plans to offer students the opportunity to play in a co-ed hockey league next year. According to Drapeau, the interest for such a league is very high.

“The challenge that we had with [co-ed hockey] is we didn’t have enough changing rooms to allow men and women to change separately,” explained Drapeau.

The league will begin in the winter when women’s soccer and men’s football seasons have come to an end and their change rooms become available for campus recreation usage.

Students can also anticipate an increase in the number of individual registration leagues. These leagues are mainly geared toward first-year students who wish to participate, but don’t know enough players to put in a full roster.

Regardless of the league’s limitations, Drapeau believes that further improvements to the intramural program at the U of O are possible.

“As facilities grow around us, the intramural program will grow [along with it].”

League availability is now available online at Geegees.ca.