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Intramurals Provide an Outlet for Engagement and Connection

Loyola Academy’s Intramurals Program experienced significant growth in the 2019-20 school year. Led by Head Baseball Coach and English Teacher Mr. Chris Ackels and a board of student leaders, the program offered three new sports as well as multiple online competitions during the e-learning phase of the ’19-’20 school year. Through May 1, a total of 937 students participated in a Loyola intramural activity, a 38% increase from last year.
The 2019-20 calendar of intramural offerings proceeded on the following schedule:

September: 16-inch Softball
October: Dodgeball
November: Bags
January: Pickleball
February: Floor Hockey
March: 3-on-3 Basketball

When Loyola transitioned to e-learning at the end of March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the intramural program didn’t skip a beat. “Cura personalis is all about the personal connection,” says Ackels. “When we went to e-learning, we made it a priority to find ways to keep up that fun, happy personal connection.” 

And so to keep students engaged and connected—both to Loyola and to each other—Ackels and his team of student leaders organized a number of online tournaments that students played while sheltering in place this spring: NBA 2K, Fortnite, NHL and Madden. A  total of 431 students joined in on the fun from home, including 81 students who had previously not participated in an intramural activity.

Intramurals give students another reason to look forward to their day at school. The same is true for an e-learning day,” Ackels adds. “The Intramural Program has always been about putting smiles on students' faces. That doesn't change because we are apart.”

The ideas for many of the intramural competitions came from the program’s student leadership board, consisting of six seniors and three juniors who assisted with planning, publicizing and running each event, including the online tournaments. Members of the student board include seniors Rosie Talaga, Owen Zidar, Will LoVerdi, Clare Lindstrom, Justin Fiore and Billy Palmer and juniors Sloan Trapp, Hayes Flanagan and JT Thomas

Looking forward to a return to campus next year, the intramural program plans to continue organizing events and tournaments approximately once each month. And the online competitions, which were unexpectedly popular this spring, will become a permanent fixture in the program’s rotation of offerings.   

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