Officials keep intramural players safe


Photo: William Deaton/Iowa State Daily

Zach Roskilly referees an intramural football game on Tuesday, Sept. 11, at the intramural fields east of Jack Trice Stadium. Roskilly said most players are relaxed and good sports. 

Isaac Hunt

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A familiar sound to anyone who played high school football. As players dust off their cleats from the glory days and see the grass stains from the overtime victory or fourth quarter comeback, every high school quarterback, running back, lineman and linebacker is excited to get back to some form of football.

Replace tightening pads and chin straps with securing Velcro flags around their waists. And replace the pregame speech with a few extra stretches, so they don’t cramp up.

They can replace almost everything, but if football is present, so is pride.

“There’s definitely some pride,” said Russ Jones, assistant director of intramurals. “When freshmen come on campus, they think: ‘Oh, I was the superstar in high school, so I’m going to be a great flag football player.’ You really start seeing the pride when they become juniors and seniors and they know the trick plays.”

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Whether they are playing with old high school teammates or new friends from their dorm hall, the same smell of sweat and rush of adrenaline flows through their senses, as their cleats move from cement to grass.

New players are present too, but the veterans don’t mind explaining what a corner route or option is. Everyone is just happy to be back in the game.

It’s fall. Players are itching to play, and safety is always a concern.

“Obviously player safety is a big concern,” Jones said. “We don’t have the equipment they would have had in high school to protect them.”

Enter the zebras: The guys with the whistles and flags to enforce the rules. But first-time referee Zach Roskilly is not worried about getting heckled.

“They’ve prepared us well,” Roskilly said. “We know what we’re doing, and it’s pretty laid back. I’m not worried — if people get rowdy, we just throw them out of the game. And we know our supervisors will have our back.”

Roskilly went on to say he had played a game as a player on Sunday, and everyone was relaxed and was a good sport. Nathan Pick, one of the intramural coordinators, echoed what Roskilly said about sportsmanship.

“I think for the most part the students are pretty good about sportsmanship,” Pick said. “Every now and then, you’ll get some people that, in the heat of the moment, will disagree with a call, but students keep it in perspective. We’re out here for fun. The referees are students just like they are.”

Another replacement is the use of scorecards with iPads. With the team rosters online, students can show their IDs to the officials to sign in instead of writing their names on a sheet of paper. This also helps keep things within the rules.

“It’s definitely less than 1 percent, but we do have some people that cheat,” Jones said. “Most of the time it’s pretty innocent. They need an extra player, so they’ll grab their neighbor or a DMACC student, someone who isn’t eligible from a fee standpoint. We just want to make it fair for everybody. And students pay a hefty fee to use our rec facilities and play intramurals, so we just want to make sure fee-paying students are playing.”

In the A league, where teams are the top dogs — or at least they believe they are when they sign up — the entrants are fighting for a chance to play other college teams also.

“The last four years we’ve sent our A championship to Iowa City for the Midwest Regional Championship,” Jones said. “Two years ago they won in Iowa City and went down to Texas.”

Whether it is for fun, pride or an opportunity to go to a larger tournament, players are excited to be playing again. Flag football games started after 5 p.m. Monday, but players were there well before gearing up for football, getting last-minute plans of attack together to make sure they win.

When the game is done, they shake hands and move on to go back to studying, writing essays and turning in that Blackboard assignment before midnight. But before it is all over, they get one last walk in the glory that is football.

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