Commentary: Finch reinvents intramurals

Adam Finch has only been the director of the intramurals program for two years, but he has already helped  facilitate changes to the program that he feels were a “long time coming.” Within the past two years, Finch has brought about many new ideas and tools, adding positions and sports in order to expand the program. These changes, some successful, others not so much, have all been driven by Finch’s belief that intramurals is “all about the participants.”
With this philosophy, Finch has been able to create an extremely interactive program, ruled by flexibility and adaptation. Last year, Finch helped to fully implement the use of imleagues.com, a website that helps allow him to track participation and sports statistics, as well as keep a running roster and tab on the hundreds of participants every week.
By utilizing this program, Finch was able to improve many of the leagues for this year, adding new sports and classes, as well as expanding previous ones. But he is hardly one to take credit, always pointing towards the 1,200 plus participants and their positive attitude and constructive criticism.
Finch massively expanded his staff in the past months, allowing for more supervision and leadership for participants to turn to. Now participants always have someone to look toward with questions and concerns, allowing for more structure and stability. Finch sees changes like this as a key to encouraging membership.
 “If people feel like everything is well done and organized, like the quality is there, they’ll come back,” he says. “A lot has been done to make sure that experience happens, and I think it is happening.”
Looking at the numbers – it’s hard to disagree with him. In his two years, Finch has expanded from nine activities to 21 and added another 300 participants, ending the year with over 1,200.
His innovation within the activities, adding sports like badminton, ping pong and Zumba, has helped to draw in new participants, no longer limiting people by athletic ability. It is a truly unique experience. Seattle University, for example, has double the enrollment of SPU, but half the involvement in intramurals that SPU has, which is telling of what Finch once again says points to the community of SPU’s intramural program.
The STUB and Intramural Dodgeball Tournament represents a perfect example of Finch’s organization coming together with creativity. With 30 teams and 330 participants, this year’s dodgeball tournament was a rousing success. By partnering with organizations like STUB and Underdog Sports, the tournament was able to provide things like free t-shirts and snacks. Tournaments like these have allowed more participation to those who can’t commit to a quarter’s worth of play.
With the same idea, intramurals teamed up with the sixth Hill men at their annual Beach Bash event to put on a 2-on-2 volleyball tournament. The tournament brought out almost 100 participants, another success Finch hopes to continue with.
“I want to continue to invest in students, and if that includes more tournaments and fewer leagues, I’m OK with it,” he says.
Beyond just providing a variety of tournament and leagues, intramurals continue to provide a variety of students with employment. This year, Finch once again raised his number of referees and court supervisors, along with adding on an intramural publicist, supporting his vision of involving students. All of these changes have been “key to the success of the program.”
Finch hopes to continue with this expansion, looking forward to possibly creating more leadership roles to incentivize students to continue moving up, and possibly even a training program for new refs.
Looking toward the future, Finch’s main goals include increasing off -campus participation and learning student expectations better. While he recognizes that he’ll never be able to predict every whim of the students at SPU, he wants to get to understand the culture more as he attempts to engage with them. Off campus participants, for example, is an untapped resource.
“I hear all the time from people that they didn’t think intramurals were open to graduate students or off-campus students,” Finch says.
 He hopes to continue to strengthen the publicity and advertisement of intramural events, reaching out more to the borders of campus, rather than just focusing on the dorms. He also hopes to be able to predict the participation of programs more this year. Finch has seen successes, such as volleyball and dodgeball, but also his fair share of setbacks, like a FIFA tournament that couldn’t get enough attention.
Overall, Finch sees a bright future for intramurals, with the hope that the school and the students will continue to invest in the program.
The unique students and environment that SPU has created will continue to give the program both challenges and victories, but Finch eagerly looks forward to facing it all. Always one to recognize the opportunities, Finch is excited to build upon an already solid foundation.
“We have a special thing here,” he says.

 

This article was posted in the section Sports.