Before Lehigh announced it will be scaling back campus activity until Oct. 16 due to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases, the Lehigh intramural office aimed to continue providing students with opportunities to participate in recreational activities this semester while abiding by coronavirus guidelines.
Most recently, intramural sports held a series of competitions, notably the FIFA and Madden video game tournaments as well as the intramural foul shooting competition.
Jane Josesphson, director of club, intramural and recreational sports, organized the free throw contest, while Matt Kutz, assistant director of club sports, arranged the video game competitions.
Josephson said the video game events were designed to include any Lehigh student, regardless of their remote or non-remote status this fall.
The foul shooting contest took place in person on Sept. 13 in Grace Hall. The event was offered exclusively to students who selected the “non-remote” option this semester, including those living off-campus.
Josephson said she wanted to find a way to include fully remote students as well. She considered the idea of having fully remote participants submit their shooting results from their backyard or local basketball courts, but decided it would take away from the integrity of the competition if those results could not be verified.
“I wanted to look at what we could do with the non-remote students to give them something to do,” Josephson said. “To my fault, I wanted to do this with remote students as well.”
Eighteen students registered for the foul shot contest and 15 participants showed up. Separated in groups of three, there were five time slots spread out over a few hours to abide by safety guidelines.
Josephson said although a low number of participants makes the competition logistically easier, since it is more containable than a large group and fewer time slots are required, she hopes to see better turnouts at future events, when campus activity can resume. She noted it’s more difficult to communicate to people and advertise the events because students are scattered this semester.
“I gave (my assistant) the information, and I gave Residential Services the information for both e-sports and the foul shooting (contest) to try to get out to the first-year students since they’re the ones actually living on-campus,” Josephson said. “Then you have the people who are non-remote, that might be living off-campus, and trying to find all of them (is tough) — the whole communication thing is very difficult right now.”
Kevin McNulty, ‘22, attended the free throw contest. He said the event was well organized and mindful of the restrictions with the small groups and separate time slots.
As someone who formerly worked with the Lehigh intramural office, McNulty said one upside to events like this is the work opportunity made available to students looking for it. He said he’s glad work opportunities haven’t “freezed over” as a result of COVID restrictions.
“If they keep running events like this, I would definitely go back,” McNulty said.
Not all participants walked away with a positive experience.
Alex Cross, ‘22G, said he registered for the free throw competition because he wanted to make friends and felt inclined to sign up because he played recreational basketball at Gettysburg College, where he completed his undergraduate studies.
Cross said the restrictions imposed by coronavirus negatively impacted the event because he was not able to meet anyone other than the other two participants in his time slot. However, he said he understands the current circumstances don’t exactly allow for social events to work as intended.
“Everybody had to stand six feet apart, there wasn’t much talking going on,” Cross said. “I don’t mean to rip into it too much because I guess they can’t really do a lot.”
Josephson said she is thinking about organizing a three-point shootout or an around-the-world contest for future events when on-campus activity can resume.
Despite all the hardships, Josephson and her team are getting creative.
Josephson said Lehigh’s traditional Turkey Trot will take on a “new look” this year, as they have asked the Lafayette recreation department to join in the virtual event.
“Although nothing can replace the (Lehigh-Lafayette) football game, we felt that it would be something fun that we could ‘compete’ on a different platform,” Josephson said. “We’re all in the same boat, and we’re all in recreation, and the goal is to have fun and enjoy some friendly competition. We can at least do something together.”
More information about the Turkey Trot will be made available in a few weeks.
While Josephson hopes to have more events like this in the future, the earliest Lehigh would be able to host them is Oct. 16.