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Popularity rising, usable space waning

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By Devin Jones

With the popularity of Ryerson as a university destination rising, so is the number of students wanting to take part in intramural activities.The problem is, the facilities being used are almost at full capacity.

In 2010-11, 1,980 students signed up for intramural activities and utilized the Recreation and Athletics Centre’s (RAC) three gyms. Last year, with the added use of the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) and Upper gym in Kerr Hall West, that number has raised significantly to 4,096.

“The strategic goal I’ve set for my self is 4,500. We hit around 4,000 students last year and that was basically maximizing all the space we had,” said intramural and clubs coordinator Randy Pipher. “It’s at the point now where we have to get really creative with our space.”

As of Sept. 17 over 200 teams have registered to play, spread across eight different sports. According to Pipher, the fall semester usually sees 2,000-2,500 students participate, with a higher sign-up rate during the winter semester due to first-year students being more settled in on campus.

To ease the amount of congestion throughout the RAC and the upper gym, Ryerson recreation has thought about starting the individual seasons earlier, or running them longer into the day and later into the year. But Pipher is aware of the commuter culture surrounding Ryerson and the fact that students would be less likely to stay on campus if their intramural sport was run later at night.

For third-year real estate management student Andrew Scott, who’s participated in dodgeball, the intramural experience has been a positive one.

“I used to participate in intramurals all throughout high school, so being able to continue that throughout university has been great,” Scott said. “It’s allowed me to meet new people and not only have fun exercising, but it gives me a break from my studies.”

There have also been talks at an upper management level within Athletics about looking off campus for further space to accommodate the growing popularity of intramurals at Ryerson. Although nothing tangible has been brought forth, according to Pipher possibilities include the use of a Ryerson-owned soccer field, which would accommodate the varsity men and women’s soccer team’s, who currently commute to Downsview Park for their home games.

In terms of coordinating all of the madness, it’s essentially up to Pipher. While quick to note that he does have officials and convenors — often Rams athletes — who help oversee everything for the individual sports, the brunt of the emails, organization and troubleshooting comes down on his shoulders. The busiest times for Pipher are September and January, when intramurals start for each semester. And while he’s still busy throughout the year, he says the volume of questions and concerns dies down once things are in motion.

“I have conveners and officials as well for each of the specific leagues, but in terms of getting all those teams organized at that start, it’s a huge undertaking. It’s me,” Pipher said. “We had close to 400 individual sign-ups, so you can only imagine, they all have questions and concerns. Then you have 200 teams to organize. It’s certainly a process.”

Before the MAC was built and used by the majority of the Rams varsity teams for exercise and training purposes, the RAC was even more crowded due to the fact that intramural and varsity operations were all housed within the same cavernous space. Yet Ryerson athletic director Ivan Joseph remains optimistic in his quest to get students more involved and active on campus.

“In my perfect world I’d like every student to have an opportunity to participate in some recreational or intramural activity,” Joseph said. “About seven years ago we had about 2,000 students and now we’re closing in on 5,000, I want that number to be seven or eight [thousand].”

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