Intramural and Sport clubs adapt to COVID-19

Fitness Instructor Hanna Barritt leads her Butt N Gutt class before COVID-19 caused restrictions on Winona States campus. Intramural and sports clubs must now adapt to new regulations in order to keep students, faculty and staff members safe.

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Fitness Instructor Hanna Barritt leads her “Butt ‘N Gutt” class before COVID-19 caused restrictions on Winona State’s campus. Intramural and sports clubs must now adapt to new regulations in order to keep students, faculty and staff members safe.

Lucy LaValley, Sports Reporter

This 2020-21 school year is already off to an odd start due to COVID-19. One Winona State University activity that has taken a hit is intramural sports. Intramural sports are activities for students to take a break from their studies and is a way to meet new people on campus.

Regarding the cancellation, students hope to see a change as the number of COVID cases begin to level out over time. Winona State Senior, Dyl Hayenga, who has participated in intramural sports since his freshman year at Winona State said he is disappointed because of the cancellations.

“It is definitely weird not having them this semester; however, under these circumstances I understand,” Hayenga said.  “I am very much looking forward to, and hoping they return for my last semester this spring.”

Mark Bambenek, director of Intramural and Recreational Sports at Winona State said there were plans to operate amid COVID.

“We had a number of plans to do just outdoor sports, but they [administration] didn’t feel that could be done,” Bambenek said. “Now we have some plans for more individualized sports like pickleball, badminton, horse shoeing contests, one-on-one type individual things where it’s not a team activity, but students still can participate a little bit.”

Bambenek said these options were not approved yet, but those are the steps Winona State would like to take. When these events do return, a common concern is what they will look like now due to COVID.

Can students expect to fill out daily health checks?  According to Bambenek, people can expect participating students to be required to fill out a daily health check to confirm that they are not having any COVID symptoms and if they say yes to any symptoms, they will not be permitted to participate in their event that day.

Logs of every team’s members who attended what events on what day will be kept, ensuring that if a student does test positive that the other athletes playing that night will be contacted and informed of their possible exposure to the virus.

Bambenek said it will be a campus decision if athletes will have to wear protective face masks.

“If we were to be able to do something here in the next two to three weeks, we would definitely have masks, even for the individual stuff, even if they are nowhere close to anybody,” Bambenek said.

Bambenek said physical contact will be prohibited among athletes and they will have to become creative to avoid the usual contact that comes with said sport.

“For example, five-on-five basketball where teams go skins and shirts and people are sweaty, that’s a ways away, but I think we can do different shooting contest type activities to maybe try to substitute people being able to play,” Bambenek said. “It’s hard if you have to guard someone you have to be close to them, six feet away or twelve feet away then it just becomes a shooting contest; that will be a little bit down the road.”

Intramural athletes say they hope to see Bambenek and the rest of the intramural staff’s plan of action go into full effect.


The opinions expressed in this paper are not necessarily those of Winona State University, the Minnesota State Colleges and University system, or the Winona State University student body.