Back in the seemingly distant past, the Student Life and Wellness Center was filled on any given night with students bowling, rock climbing, exercising and even playing video games. Intramural leagues competed in dozens of sports and the center regularly hosted events for students of all kinds. But, even if the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to learn remotely, the Campus Recreation Department is still set on giving every student a chance to feel engaged at Utah Valley University.
DaSheek Akwenye, the director of Campus Recreation and Wellness, said that student life will have to adapt to the new realities of the coronavirus — as we have all had to do with our daily lives.
“COVID-19 has created limitations on what we can offer, but we are trying to think outside the box,” said Akwenye. “We are trying to be creative in terms of ensuring students who come to UVU still feel the sense of belonging and they still get the university experience.”
Some activities may look similar to those offered previously — albeit with social distancing and safety precautions in place. Akwenye said he hopes the SLWC will be able to hold some of its usual fitness classes such as yoga, zumba and spin. The fitness center and the climbing wall have opened and will remain so for the foreseeable future with precautions.
Unfortunately, not everything in regards to campus athletics is as suited to our current world. Dustin Lamont is the program director of Intramurals and Club Sports and has been working to figure out what those programs will look like this fall. While many of the most popular sports, such as flag football and soccer, simply don’t work with social distancing, Lamont said they are looking to transition to volleyball and pickleball — sports that can be played with a maximum number of four participants.
Another focus for Intramurals and Club Sports recently has been eSports. The eSports Club at UVU has seven leagues — including League of Legends and Overwatch — and intramurals regularly host student gaming nights in the SLWC or online.
Whatever your interest is, Lamont said the purpose of intramural sports is to create connections and have fun — students shouldn’t be afraid to try something new.
“If you’re the best basketball team, that’s cool,” Lamont said. “But if you’re there just to have fun, we also do that.”
If there is one department in the SLWC that was built for a pandemic though, it’s the Outdoor Adventure Center. The OAC offers year-round equipment rentals and activities such as hiking, biking, paddleboarding and outdoor movies. If these can’t all be done in large groups, or at all, the OAC has plans to hold the same activities online — with students tracking hikes on Strava, or clinics and scavenger hunts held on social media.
Nobody can change that we are living in a bizarre time — and this will be particularly stressful to incoming freshmen. For better or for worse, students beginning college this fall will have a collegiate experience unlike anyone before them. It’s too early to say what that will be like, but the SLWC is committed to making sure that all UVU students can have a taste of the campus environment.
“We want to ensure they are still getting that college feel when they come to UVU,” said Akwenye. “We have so much to offer here. We have a vast variety of programs that are exciting, engaging, as well as educational. We want students to feel at home.”
(Photo by Natasha Colburn)