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Lessons from Playing Intramural Sports

“Hey! Would you be interested in playing intramural volleyball?” I think this was maybe the 50th door I had knocked on in my residence hall. Last semester when I was the Captain of my volleyball team, I learned the struggles of trying to recruit skilled players for my team. I had tried to create a co-rec volleyball team and was struggling to find more guys to play on my team. After three games, I learned more strategies on what motivated people to show up. This ranged from making new friends, to winning, to just having fun.

This semester when a friend invited me on his intramural soccer team, we not only had to tackle the same issues, but new ones as well. One of the first lessons was getting people to show up which was hard. We struggled with it, initially. Sometimes even while we had a full roster of people, not everyone would show up on every day. Often our difficulty was getting skilled players to show up every single game. Keeping people motivated and dedicated was a challenge. We tried to tackle this by creating a group chat and forming practice days. We aimed at convincing them of what it meant to us to make playoffs.

Over time, while we started to get more players, it didn’t help us if they had never played soccer before. We started to change our strategy to ‘quality over quantity’. Aside from going door to door, I started ask mutual friends (whether on Facebook or in person) whether they knew people who played. Most of the people I asked were already on teams or uninterested. Over time with one friend who was interested, we were able to branch out to more mutual friends. It took time and a lot of effort but I would say it was worth it.

We had finally gotten a number of skilled players. Now, our main goal now was to make sure they showed up. The question I began to ask myself is how do I get more people to join and how can I get them to stay motivated. I am sure every team captain has asked this question to of themselves every once in awhile. The Our solution is was a mixture of incentives. The numerous incentives we employed depended on the people and what they were interested in. For some it was meeting new people, for others it was a way to release stress. Depending on the person, some incentives worked and others did not.

Did we incentivize right? In the end, it was dependent on the person but I think the important thing was we kept experimenting- trying out different things. As a leader, it can be hard to stay motivated. Especially, when it seems as though you are the main person pulling everything together. Other people do not always realize the fun they end up having until after the event has occurred. It was important to keep myself and the captain of the team motivated. Without supporting each other, we wouldn’t have been able to pull this off. Having the few reliable people show up, makes us feel all the more better and realize why we are doing this.

And after every game we play, we realize how much fun we have and why we do this.