Intramural sports expands to esports

By Ashley Kizer Contributing Writer As soon as universities realized that COVID-19 would have an impact on intramural sports, many employees and student staff members had to branch out and find new ways to make intramurals available. With the rules of social distancing and mask wearing, it became clear that many traditional intramural sports were not going occur. However, because of technology and many students’ love for online sports, recreation departments have implemented online gaming, or esports, into intramural leagues. At UMHB, Campus Recreation staff member Hannah Zbylot said that UMHB was no exception.  “It has been challenging working this semester because of people’s response to the virus,” Zbylot said. “No one wants to spread their germs, so we’ve had to cut back in some of the intramural sports that are usually our largest competitions.” UMHB and other universities like the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University have still been able to provide some physical intramural sports such as volleyball, disc golf, ultimate frisbee, kickball, and tennis. While there is still a variety, this is a limited batch of sports being offered compared to a normal intramural season. Additionally, playing any of the sports comes with the mask-wearing of the pandemic. Texas A&M Molly Lindner found it difficult to wear a mask while playing intramural softball. “It is actually super strange because you don’t realize how much you read people’s faces until you can’t see them anymore,” Lindner said. For that reason, among others, UMHB and other universities have implemented online gaming as a way for students to play intramural sports. Texas A&M offers MLB, NHL, and FIFA for intramural leagues. University of Texas at Austin offers Madden, NBA, and FIFA. UMHB offers Call of Duty, Rocket League, FIFA, and Super Smash Bros. Each school has different requirements for online gaming, but one commonality between all three is that the students compete in these online games in their own homes using their own gaming consoles. It is important to note that UT and Texas A&M both require students to pay a $10 fee to participate, but UMHB does not. Mark Gonzalez is currently participating in Intramural esports at UMHB. “I really appreciate how UMHB tried something new with intramurals this year,” Gonzales said. “It’s really cool to see them give us different options in the midst of the pandemic.” Gonzales also added that he felt UMHB has added different and unique sports to reach a broad range of students. Universities like UMHB have faced the challenge of COVID-19 head-on and quickly accommodated students with sports they like and online games they enjoy. These schools may keep...

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Crusader alumnus signs with former world series champions Washington Nationals
Nov05

Crusader alumnus signs with former world series champions Washington Nationals

Landon Dietrich sits with his parents, Chris and Melisa Dieterich, as he signs to the Washington National’s rookie developmental league, the Gulf Coastal League Nationals on June 22, 2020. He signed at home, due to COVID-19 restrictions. Former Crusader baseball player Landon Dieterich was drafted earlier this year to the World Series Champions, the Washington Nationals. In the history of the UMHB baseball program, only 8 players had been drafted. Dieterich raised the number to 9. The road to the majors is very long and full of difficulty, and to do so from Division Three baseball makes the journey all the more difficult. Most college athletes play merely to enjoy the sport they love for four more years, and to develop as a person. Very few actually make it to the next level in any sport. UMHB faced Schreiner Univ. in the home series opener at Red Murff Field, Belton, on Saturday, February 15, 2020. While Dieterich is only playing currently in a rookie developmental league with the Gulf Coast League (GLC), this is an important step that many great players have had to take. Dieterich already seems to understand the importance and difficulty of where he is at. “I am absolutely blessed,” Dietrich said.  “I realize it is a rare opportunity, and I just hope to make everyone proud.”                        Dieterich was never alone in his journey towards where he is today. Along the way he had many of his close friends and family to guide him and give him support whenever he needed it. UMHB and its students and faculty were also a big part of his support system. “UMHB was everything to my baseball career,” Dietrich said.  “It made me into the player and person I am. Everyone from coaches to professors. Definitely the best 4 years of my life.”  His years playing for UMHB mean more to him than most people may understand. “A lot of people do not realize UMHB was my only chance to play baseball,” Dieterich said, “No one else wanted to take a chance on me back then.” However, his job upon graduation from UMHB was not guaranteed, so going through the drafting process was stressful.   “[The draft] started off super stressful, and the stress just kept growing,” Dietrich said. “After all, this was a lifelong dream. So, eventually, I just had to let it go and trust whatever God had for me.” UMHB faced Southwestern Univ. at Red Murff Field, Belton, on Tuesday, February 18, 2020. Dieterich said that he had so many memorable moments while playing at UMHB he could not pinpoint the most memorable. “I think we would need...

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Women’s Basketball finished home season with historic performance
Feb25

Women’s Basketball finished home season with historic performance

Mayborn was host to one of the most memorable games in the history of the UMHB Women’s Basketball program on Saturday, Feb. 8. Not only did the Crusaders completely crush the visiting Howard Payne Yellowjackets 112-70, but two major milestones were reached. Coach Mark Morefield achieved his 100th win while with the Crusader program and senior Guard Hannah Holt, a marketing major from Lumberton broke the school record for most career points (in the NCAA era). These two major milestones were just the icing on the cake for this college team, whose passion and hard work are on display in their win-loss record for this year. Following the impressive performance of the national anthem by the Black Shirt Cru the game was finally underway. The Cru won the opening tip-off and started their offensive onslaught without any delay. Within the first opening minutes of the game, the score was quickly 5-0 as the Yellowjackets failed to score any points within their first few drives. Then the Cru managed to make one of their free throws, making the score 7-1. After that, both sides tried their best to score, however it was obvious to everyone watching that the Crusaders’ defense was tightknit and would not buckle under any pressure. The same could not be said for the Yellowjackets, however, as the halftime score was Cru 59, Yellowjackets 39. If the Yellowjackets had hoped that they could regroup and come back in the second half, that was simply not the case. The lead had grown larger and larger until it was obvious to everyone, including the Howard Payne roster, that this game was a lost cause. Regardless, the Yellowjackets played on and in an admirable attempt to make the gap between the two scores as small as possible, playing their best basketball of entire game from then on. Had the Yellowjackets been able to play the entire game as hard as they did in the final quarter, then perhaps they would have had a shot at a victory. By the conclusion of the 112-70 blowout, the announcer told everyone to bring their attention to the center of the court. There stood Coach Morefield getting doused by a single water bottle in celebration for his milestone of 100 wins with the Crusader program. Following this was the celebration of the four seniors. This game marked the final home game of their college careers and the school made sure that they went out in style. All four received framed jerseys with their numbers and a bouquet of flowers as well. The senior guards Hannah Holt, Kendall Rollins, Alicia Blackwell, and Ke’Aunna Johnson all...

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Coach Mike Stawski on board to invigorate Crusader Baseball
Feb25

Coach Mike Stawski on board to invigorate Crusader Baseball

With the retirement of Coach Ben Shipp last January, it was only a matter of time before UMHB hired a coach who would meet the school’s numerous requirements. “When our head baseball coach position became open, our goal was to hire a great coach who would also be a great fit at UMHB,” President of UMHB Randy O’Rear said. “We believe we accomplished that and hired one of the best coaches in the country. Coach Stawski is a faithful Christian, strong leader, and has a proven track record of building championship NCAA Division III baseball programs.” The timing for this change in leadership for the baseball program could not have been more well-timed. With football, volleyball and women’s basketball teams coming off of fantastic seasons in both 2018 and this year so far, it is time for baseball to have its time in the spotlight. Coach Stawski has the ability to turn programs from average into championship contenders. However, that is not the only goal that Stawski has in mind for the program at UMHB. “We’re going to graduate really great kids from here,” Stawski said. “Kids that we are going to be proud of…what we are doing is developing the full person here, which is unfortunately lost sometimes in college athletics. But it will not be lost on us here. I will retire before I put winning ahead of my players,” Stawski said. “People are going to walk away saying, the baseball program developed great people who have made an impact.” Coach Stawski’s devotion to these tenants was reflected in what the players think of him. “He is definitely a genuine guy,” junior pitcher Andrew Hutchings said. “It was obvious that the player-coach relationship really matters to him. Right off the bat, I could tell he was very knowledgeable about all aspects of the game.” “I think having Stawski as the new face of the program is going to get Cru base-ball exactly where we need to be,” Hutchings said. “His attitude and coaching skills are already having a positive impact on all of the players. There is no doubt that this program is heading in the right direction.” Hutchings seemed very positive. “I can guarantee that we will be in the best physical and mental state possible because of [Coach] Stawski, Wilson, J-Rod, and Coach Ram. We are going to play every game hard and we are going to win. Stawski’s strategy and mindset will show on the field through us players,” he said. Stawski had a slightly different outlook regarding the performance of the team these next couple of seasons. “The most important thing…is for the guys...

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Get involved with intramural sports

On college campuses across the nation, intramural and recreational league sports have become a huge part of campus life as they incorporate community, teamwork, and wellness into students’ lives. Even on small campuses such as the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, intramurals can play a big role in student life. UMHB currently offers six intramural and recreational sports including basketball, soccer, sand and indoor volleyball, football, and the university is open to suggestions from the student body. “Intramural sports at UMHB give me the chance to participate in sports without the big commitment of playing on a varsity team,” junior business major Coby Kidd said. “I love that I can just come together with my friends on a Sunday night and goof around,” she said. Many students just like Kidd have the same feelings towards intramural sports. These programs are the perfect option for students who enjoy exercising and being active but are not involved in varsity sports. Exercise is not the only positive attribution that intramural sports bring to college campuses, they can also be a way to avoid the party scene. According to a 2018 study by Torstveit, Johansen, Haugland, and Stea in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, young adults who participated in organized sports had a lower likelihood of engaging in unhealthy lifestyle choices such as unhealthy dietary habits, low physical activity levels, high screen time, and sleep duration. This study is one example of the positive qualities that intramural sports promote. By students replacing partying with intramural sports on the weekend, college drinking levels can decrease while overall student wellness is improved. A 2007 study in the Journal of American College Health by Ward and Gryczynski found that students who feel pressured by the partying culture, which is cultivated by American pop culture, can use intramural and recreational sports as a positive activity outside of school. Participating in intramural sports can also form a sense of community and friendship with people that would not normally meet. Students create friendships and memories with people outside of their majors, classifications, and social circles. “In high school, I was on the volleyball team and made the majority of my friends that way,” Rachel Lucas, sophomore communications major at Colorado Christian University said. “So when I got to college, I didn’t know if I would find ‘my people’ again. “Joining an intramural volleyball team helped me to form relationships outside of my major and track team. I love my intramural pals,” Lucas said. Intramurals are an easy way to be involved on campus in a casual way. They create a sense of community and fun on...

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Crusader cheer team participates in national cheer tournament in Orlando
Feb11

Crusader cheer team participates in national cheer tournament in Orlando

The Crusader Cheerleaders returned to UMHB this month with some good memories and lessons learned. The cheer team went to Disney World in beautiful Orlando, Florida to compete in the National Cheer Competition on January 17. They competed against 24 other teams and eventually ranked seventeenth in the competition. The cheer teams were judged on spirit, technique, difficulty, and a game-day routine. The UMHB Cheerleaders performed the fight song, a chant, and a timeout routine. Freshman nursing major Ansley Howard had a good time competing at Nationals and thought highly of her cheer team members. “Our performance went well for our team,” Howard said. “We all felt like that was the best we had ever done, but the judges thought otherwise.” Howard went on to say that what the team took away from the competition was that “everything happens for a reason.” Freshman Lauren Berry remembers a positive experience at Disney. “When things aren’t perfect you can still have fun,” Berry said. She went on to say that the best part of the trip was “competing at ESPN Wide World of Sports, and that “…we got to compete in front of the castle.” Berry also said that she was looking forward to “continuing to grow the [cheer] team and learn more about the competition. Even though the cheer team did not win the National Cheer Competition, they did come back to UMHB with good memories and lessons...

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