By Sidnee Grubb (’18)
On April 3, 1942, the Gonzaga Bulletin released a desperate cry for action titled “Softball and Spirit.” In the midst of WWII, the written rally that ensued was not for political action, global peace or battle strategy reform, but for something sweeter and simpler: a springtime intramural sport. Writer Gus Cozza rallied the student body to revive its identity as a small but mighty force. He concluded, “All that there is to say has been said. All that remains must be done! Let’s do it!” The Bulletin later reported the softball games were a “howling success.”
The skill of the sportsmen and the passionate patrons began a legacy of participation and fun in the face of turmoil. The impact intramural sport brought 75 years ago has only intensifi ed through the passage of time. Last year the spring softball season saw a whopping 1,628 players.
Despite the vivacity of the program, Shelly Radtke, Rudolf Fitness Center associate director for intramurals, is daydreaming about additions like four square and making it possible to live-stream matches for parents. Her efforts to “touch every facet” of sport and sports administration are the enactment of her purpose as a 12-year member of this community. Shelly has seen intramural registration move from paper piles to online IM Leagues, Mulligan Field go from a marshy wasteland to luxurious turf, and student interest go from the ever-popular basketball to minority sports like pickle ball and spike ball.
While much has changed since that desperate softball announcement in the 1942 Bulletin, the cry for activity is still being answered. Gonzaga intramurals have been ranked on Princeton Review college discernment lists and play an integral role in the level of enthusiasm that is so much a part of the campus environment. Radtke says the IM Leagues online system is like “rolling out the red carpet” for students who want to be involved.
Ty Smith (’17), business major and history minor, has participated in enough Gonzaga intramural sporting events to win 11 of the coveted championship T-shirts, has been an Intramural referee all four years, and is a member of the Facebook-famous flag football team No Punt Intended.
The clever name is true to form: Ty’s team never punts the ball.
He says, “Our sophomore year, we were in the semifinal game. Fourth down, on our own goal line and we still didn’t punt. The fan Facebook page blew up anyway, comments from parents saying they were proud we stuck to our values. We lost but it’s my favorite memory of intramurals.”
Gonzaga is a community of learners, achievers and servants. With such high aspirations for ourselves and our community, what is the significance of minor things like softball games and the rarity of a championship T-shirt? Quite simply: Sport is how many nourish their spirits. The Gonzaga student body answers the cry for fun and sportsmanship.