Have you ever had that event that you’re dying to go to but none of your friends are interested? A Black Pistol Fire concert or that beekeeping class? Most times, it doesn’t matter because you can just go by yourself and while it can be awkward, you have that option.
IM sports, however, is a whole different ballpark. You can’t just show up by yourself and play 5 people in volleyball or have a 3 on 1 basketball game. You need a team. But what if your friends aren’t interested? Believe it or not, you have other options.
1. Add yourself into a random team. This may surprise you but many teams could use more players. In fact, the IM soccer team I was on had 20 players on the roster but only 5 players would ever show up. On the IM League website, teams can choose whether or not to accept single players or “free agents”. Many click yes so if you just go on the website, you might find a team looking for members. And who knows, you might just meet some really nice people!
2. Talk incessantly about the sport you’re interested in and casually ask people, “are you doing IM?” Chances are, you’ll find someone who is and they’ll ask you if you are too, to which you can explain your predicament and join their team.
3. Just ask random people — your acquaintances in class, your roommates, people you see in the HFSC glass room watching sports games, people in your clubs, random people walking out of Yates who look fit and like they could be an asset to your team. (I didn’t give you that advice if anyone asks).
4. If it really comes down to it, ask some random freshman for their netids, put them in the system, and maybe when they get an email reminder about the game that night, they’ll think it’s mandatory and show up. I’m kidding of course. (But actually, desperate times call for desperate measures).
But chances are, if you really look, you’ll find a team. And maybe, just maybe, your team will go from the underdogs to champs. But if not, well, we can’t all be like Brad Pitt in Moneyball.
The last time I had held a tennis racket was at 9 years old, when all the other kids were also beginners. A time when smacking a ball in bad form over the net warranted applause, an age when your parents were still able to convince themselves that this could be the sport for you despite lack of “natural talent”. A few years down the line, however, my mom had me enrolled in the swim team, a sport I had some minimal skill in while my tennis racket was banned to the dusty depths of my closet.
Even though I stopped playing tennis, I still held onto my love for the sport. I reserved my free time during the last 2 weeks of August and the first week of September to pool into watching the U.S. Open. These were my last weeks of freedom before school started so I spent them doing what I enjoyed most.
Heading into college, I decided that I wanted to relearn this beloved sport of mine, no matter how terrible I was at it. I knew I would likely be embarrassed and that all of my friends who played tennis would be much better. I realized, however, that the tennis classes did not come with my membership and then was unwilling to pay for my own embarrassment.
However, spring semester of freshman year, I discovered the Leisure & Recreation classes through one of my older friends. When tennis was on the list, I jumped at the chance. Still afraid of mortifying all those around me with my complete inability, I dragged one of my friends to the class and convinced her to just go to the first one with me.
During the first class, I realized that I wasn’t the only one who was a real beginner. It was extremely different compared to my other experiences at Georgetown where my introductory French class was half made up of kids with years of French experience under their belt, and my U.S. Political Systems class where it seemed everyone had known the ins and outs of the government before they could walk. No, here was a class where the other students also swung their rackets in strange ways and got smacked in the face with balls they had mis-predicted. It was a place where people really did come to improve and learn, not just to show off their skill. By the end of the class, my friend, who I had forced to come saw that I was comfortable and merrily went on her way to enroll in the racquetball class instead.
My class only had 4 students so we all became rather friendly. One of our classmates was a graduate student and I know her and her tennis partner would practice outside of class almost every week. Moreover, the teacher I had, Kathleen Collins-Bell, was extremely patient. I was pretty hard on myself when I made a mistake but she coached me through it, always ready with a tip of improvement. Each class we ran through drills in the beginning, played each other at the end, and practiced serving if we had time. I looked forward to each class, re-learning a sport, counting it as my daily exercise, and meeting new people who I still say hi to today.
What Others Have to Say:
Chas Kennedy who teaches the introductory golf course cites forming personal connections with the students as his favorite part of the job. “Just by chance, over the last couple of years, I’ve had almost half of the students from China, Mongolia, and Japan. It’s very interesting to talk to these kids about how they became fluent in English, and where they studied before they came to Georgetown and what they’re going to do after they graduate.”
Ellie Valencia, now graduated, took a tennis course last spring with Kathleen Collins-Bell. She said, “The tennis LRED course definitely had more of a sense of community than the average Georgetown course mostly because it was so small…It really is a great deal taking this class because you get a lot of individual feedback which could normally set you back at least $50/hour for a course. Kathleen was always very encouraging and gave feedback as to what we could each be doing better.”
Ellie says she still runs into Kathleen on the courts and asks for her advice. As for her fellow classmates, she still plays tennis with two of them even though the course is over.
She concluded, “I feel like it’s really a hidden gem at Georgetown because if you’re a full time student it’s a free course with really tailored instruction. I’m not very athletic myself so it was an excellent introduction course–especially since it wasn’t graded!”
Anna Gloor, a sophomore, took a yoga class her freshman spring. She considered it “a nice time set out twice a week for me to relax. I enjoyed learning how to meditate and how to control my body in ways I hadn’t ever thought to think about.”
She ended up in the same class as her roommate. “I feel that we got closer. Oftentimes the class would consist of just my roommate, the instructor, and me. It was an intimate and peaceful setting.”
As for her instructor, she said, “She was super attentive and made sure to check up on me, as she knew I was a beginner. Sometimes I would fall asleep, and she’d let me sleep there for a few minutes.”
Jan Taylor who teaches the dance classes says, “Movement is my vocabulary. I communicate this way and enjoy teaching folks to do so as well.” She has three college degrees in dance, and has toured with professional companies. She even has her own company, Jan Taylor Dance Theatre. Moreover, apparently many students take the same courses over and over. She says, “It can be a lot to take in so repetition is great.”
This upcoming semester, fall 2017, Yates is offering 14 Leisure and Recreation Classes, with the strength training classes held in the new John Thompson Junior Recreation Center. Classes are taught by Yates professional instructors who also take on private and paid classes. Most of the classes are introductory and require no experience. Each class is 0 credits but they are all free! They are open to both undergraduate and graduate students.
For Fall 2017, here is the course offering (number of students in each class):
Beginning Swimming (6)
Swimming for Fitness (8)
Tennis I (2 classes/ 16)
Tennis II (2 classes/ 12)
Racquetball I (6)
Squash I (6)
Ballet I (25)
Jazz Dance (25)
Modern Dance (20)
Intro to Strength Training (10)
Strength Training II (10)
Intro to Ballroom Dance (30)
Introduction to Golf (6)
To register for the classes, you simply log into myAccess, go to the “Course Schedules by Campus”, and find the classes by selecting “Leisure & Recreation Education” in the “Subject:” field and then pressing “Class Search”. It is also important to note that almost all of the classes require no experience. Usually the classes with the “II” indicated at the end (ie: Tennis and Strength Training) and the Swimming for Fitness classes require a bit of experience, but all the others start at the grassroots.
Whether it’s to pursue an old passion, a new one, get fit, find a community, or find friends that have similar interests, I would definitely suggest trying this out! The smaller classes fill up fast so be sure to register quickly!