Intramural Soccer

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Intramural Soccer players at practice. Photo by William Llosa

The score is 10-10. The next goal will decide the game. There are ten minutes left of intramural soccer. Two soccer players from the Muhlenberg men’s team have snuck into the field house to watch the intramural game, against the coaches’ wishes. This is the most exciting and competitive game played in a while at intramural soccer, with each team consisting of about ten players, and the vibe was that of a playoff game in overtime. Each team hit the post of the beat-up old lacrosse goal at least three times in the last two minutes, and a game winner seems inevitable and in the making. Suddenly, the student athlete working at the front desk comes up to the sideline and demands that the ball be handed over and the game stopped. The game finished 10-10, and players were visibly frustrated as they walked off. Why was the game put to a halt ten minutes before intramural soccer is scheduled to end? The answer is simple: the man working the front desk just wanted to go home. He had no idea what he was interrupting.

Kaleb Gearinger ‘23, president of intramural soccer, is shocked. He knows he is going to have to send some emails to the head of intramural sports to make sure that intramural soccer is allowed the full time that they reserved in the field house.

Ryan Hardy ‘23, vice president of intramural soccer, does not believe that it gets the respect and recognition from the college that it deserves. “The College has like $100 million dollars in endowment, and they can’t spend 20 to 30 bucks on a new soccer ball?”

Intramural soccer meets at the field house on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.. It gives a lot of people the opportunity to make friends, broaden their social circle and meet people that they may have never been able to meet otherwise. Kaleb Gearinger ‘23, the president of intramural soccer, first went to intramural soccer in 2019 and it has been his go-to club since. “My freshman year really brought me out of my shell, so I’m hoping to kind of pass that along to other people, even if you’re not that great at soccer.”

For him, it is more than a place to play soccer and exercise; it is an outlet for him as a busy college student double majoring in computer science and physics to meet people and have a good time. “I mean, I didn’t even play soccer in high school,” he explains. “But soccer has always been just a fun activity for me to kind of hang out with my friends and just casually play. And I feel like anyone can play soccer.” He saw problems with the way intramural soccer was run in the past and decided to do things differently when he became president. Leading was Gearinger’s next step in trying to make it into an environment where people could feel like part of something. “We want people to just feel like they can come there and just kind of do what they do. They don’t have to worry about things like, ‘Are [we] the best at this sport?’” Kearinger wants people interested in intramural soccer to know that they are free to do whatever they want and encouraged to have fun in a space where they can socialize with their peers.

“But soccer has always been just a fun activity for me to kind of hang out with my friends and just casually play. And I feel like anyone can play soccer.”

Kaleb Gearinger ‘23

As a first-year, intramural soccer helped Gearinger believe in himself and believe that he could succeed socially and be a valued member of the Muhlenberg community. “[This club] allowed me to not only move forward with soccer and eventually take it over, but also kind of build myself up to realize that I can fit at this college.”

Gearinger hopes he can make intramural soccer a positive experience, and although sometimes it gets a little bit intense, his goal is to make people feel like they can have fun there and laugh. “It’s getting a lot more just kind of laid back, which is what we like, and that’s exactly what we want. We want people to just feel like they can come there and just kind of do what they do.” Gearinger’s biggest challenge is ensuring that people with a competitive nature don’t bring too much fire. “Everyone has their guilty, guilty moments. I mean, we’ve had one instance this year that caused a problem, but we really dealt with it and moved on through it.”

Members of intramural soccer have developed a bond, it is kind of like a family where everyone is very close. “I feel like it’s just that nice community where, you know, people are going to check up on you and people are going to say hi to you,” said Gearinger. “I go out of my way to greet people I see from soccer on a regular basis. And I think soccer has given me some of my best friendships because you just get this nice vibe.”

Gearinger makes sure to allow for some competition amidst the good vibes and positivity. “Everyone has their little competitive partner that they maybe compete with a little bit and I think it just adds to everything.” It is a very diverse group of athletes and people of all skill levels are welcome. “We have our jokesters; we have our people that maybe played soccer all the way through high school. We have people that have never played soccer, and everyone kind of seems to get along like 99 percent of the time. We’ve had an instance or two, but overall, the number of friends I’ve made outweighs any kind of even smaller issue.”

It is a Wednesday night, and intramural soccer is ready to kick off. However, the floor is wet, and players are slipping as they try to make runs, tackles or any kind of move with the ball. This is because the Muhlenberg soccer team used the field house to practice due to the rain. Members of intramural soccer understand that the actual school team takes priority over a club. However, it is too dangerous to play, so Gearinger must end it early. “They came in and made the floor so slippery that it was dangerous for my guys to be inside the gym.” Gearinger was able to fix the problem behind the scenes, sending emails so that the team switched shoes and tried to keep the floor dry. 

“I think the guys that come love it. I think they have a lot of fun. I think even though we are seen as a little bit lesser in the eyes of the general public, I think that the people that come realize the value of soccer and kind of realize what it brings to our community here. And I think what it brings is a lot of just good friendships that can last a lifetime and kind of just a good way to vent some competitive nature because everyone has a little bit of that competitive theme in them and they want to play occasionally.”

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