Fans of William & Mary athletics have a lot to look forward to this season. The football team is poised to return to FCS playoff contention, field hockey aims to make another trip to the NCAA tournament, and the men’s cross country team will compete for their 20th consecutive CAA Championship.
The athletes will be aided by the support of an enthusiastic student body, who, in addition to rooting on their varsity-level classmates, will have their own prize to strive for: a championship T-shirt.
The highly sought-after shirt is awarded to the members of the many title-winning teams in the William & Mary intramural sports program. Whether competing in one of the eight season-long team sports or participating in some of the numerous short-term tournaments, students have the opportunity to feel what it’s like to be a Tribe athlete.
In his 32nd year in charge of the Intramural (IM) program is Joe Tighe, who kindly took time away from his organizational duties to contribute to this article. Joe began officiating various sports at an early age and continued in that area of expertise as a graduate student at the University of South Carolina.
He then brought his love of sports to the recreation department at W&M where he has been working ever since his graduation.
Aside from his passion for athletics, Joe continues to enjoy his job because of what the IM program provides to W&M students. First, it offers a break from the high level of academics at the college.
Brian Spencer ’06 remembers his intramural experience fondly. “As a physics major I spent many nights agonizing over problem sets. Intramural sports gave me the outlet I needed to clear my head and regain the concentration necessary to meet any challenge.”
Second, Joe enjoys seeing the camaraderie that IM sports fosters among the participants. Residence halls, fraternities, faculty members, and law students are just some of the groups that join together to compete for a title.
Some of the more popular sports like basketball, soccer, and flag football can see upwards of 80 teams register for various leagues. Men and women are equally excited about the IM offerings as co-rec teams outnumber the single-gender squads.
The program also provides new students a fun way to meet their classmates. This year there was a dodgeball tournament for freshmen and transfer students in which there was plenty of time for socializing in between pummeling one’s opponents.
The IM department occasionally introduces new sports, such as the recent addition of team handball, to provide new ways for students to come together. As Joe Tighe stated, “I strive to have a program that never gets stale. I try to take the pulse of the student body to see what interests them and then plan the sports schedule accordingly.”
Finally, the Intramural program offers a learning opportunity for students who are employed by the Recreation Department. This past year, close to 300 students worked in Recreation with 87 for IM sports specifically (72 game officials and 15 supervisors).
Joe Tighe trains and mentors the supervisors as they learn how to handle emergency situations, follow concussion protocols, and manage games and equipment.
Abby Houser ’05 used her business degree and IM sports experience as she worked in finance at the athletics departments for Wake Forest University and the University of Richmond.
She has since returned to Williamsburg as a Capital Budget Analyst for the College. “As an official and a supervisor, I got paid to be around something I loved and it showed me new opportunities for different careers in sports. It’s a large reason why I ended up earning a master’s degree in sport administration.”
Through both its participants and its employees, the William & Mary Intramural Sports Department reflects the college’s values of integrity and fair play. Although the level of competition falls short of varsity standards, the opportunity to participate serves as a component of a memorable and valuable college experience.
For the winners, the coveted championship t-shirt is more treasured than anything that can be purchased from the school bookstore.
– Robert Seavy ‘04