The Power of Intramural Play

On your first day at CASS, you’re drafted into one of four “Houses”.
Long before Hogwarts made it cool, CASS was doing intramural games and sports. Students don’t have a choice; they’re sorted into homerooms by team (I was a Panther), where they’re visited by a rep every single morning. The rep (called a “stick”) tries to cajole every student into signing up for every event: floor hockey, cribbage, volleyball, and even American Gladiators.)
As an introverted, non-athletic kid, I did *not* want to do any of these.
But the peer pressure was overwhelming: an older high school girl telling me she NEEDED me to be on her indoor soccer team was too much to resist. And if I signed up and failed to show, we’d lose points. So I showed up.
I remember the speech given by the head of the Panthers House on my first day of high school:
“Panthers win every semester because we show up more.” Since points were awarded for attendance and victory, our strategy was simply to flood every event, win or lose, and win by attrition. We won our share of individual events–I think I even took a crokinole title once–but our House stayed on top for years because we just kept showing up.
This was my introduction to the power of group exercise, and I still copy the lessons from CASS intramurals in my gym every day:

  • We want you to show up. That’s most important.
  • We’ll use every trick in the book to get you there.
  • We don’t expect you to win the workout.
  • If you don’t show, you let the team down. Seriously, people ask “Where’s Karly?” if you’re not at noon group.
  • We use a lot of variety, because I want everyone to show off their superpower (or even FIND their superpower if they haven’t discovered it yet.)
  • We’ll give you presents…

We don’t divide you onto a team right away. For most of the year, we’re all on Team Catalyst.
But in February, we play a big game with thousands of other gyms. We call it the Intramural Open, and while the workouts come from CrossFit, the Intramural idea comes from CASS.
In the Open, we divide the gym into four teams. Everyone gets drafted. Then the Captains use their dark magic (mostly sweet Facebook messages, hugs and funny t-shirts) to get you to show up for six workouts.
Every week, a new workout is released. They’re tough, but scalable for any level, and we’ll cheer for you no matter what.
On the last week, we get to choose a special challenge. And our challenge in 2018 is better than EVER before.
If your team wins, we hang a banner in the gym. If you lose–well, no one really loses.
That’s the power of Intramural play, and we do it every single day.
One of my major influences, and a driving force behind CASS Intramurals, retired last Friday. Carole Hunt-Ford changed many lives, including mine, while teaching at CASS. It wasn’t the curriculum; it was how she filled the spaces in her time and her students’ lives between the classrooms. Intramurals were part of that, and tens of thousands improved their lives because of Carole’s influence. Thanks Carole!