I remember playing baseball when I was seven years old in my backyard in Keswick, Ont. I would create scenarios in my head — two outs, the bases loaded and the World Series was on the line. It was up to me to make the big pitch, and nothing excited me more.
As a young, hopeful kid, I dreamed of being a professional athlete. I would drag my father outside after a long day of work to play catch with me or shoot hoops. He always took the time to do it. He could see just how much it meant to me.
As the years went on, I started to realize my dream of becoming a professional athlete was dwindling. I stopped growing in the seventh grade, started to gain weight and was no longer considered one of the “athletic kids” at my school.
However, the fire inside of me still yearned for athletic competition.
When I first came to the Ryerson campus in 2012, one of the places I visited right away was the Ryerson Recreation and Athletics Centre (RAC). I knew that I could never make a varsity team, but I had heard that the school offered great intramural programs and I was set to find out first hand if the rumours were true. To my satisfaction, they were.
Ryerson offered a variety of sports for the average student to partake in, regardless of their skills. There were men’s and women’s sports, along with co-ed. I had the option to play basketball, volleyball, soccer, ball hockey, ice hockey, dodgeball and flag football in a league with other students. Students could either assemble a team or deem themselves a free agent, the latter being what I did.
I was added to a team and I was still able to play the sports I loved.
These intramural sports not only enabled me to fuel my love for athletics, but also allowed me to create friendships and the opportunity to try to stay in shape. Being in an environment with people with similar interests allowed for me to feel a sense of comfort, not having to worry about being the best or worst player on the court, field or ice. There was nothing to lose — I was here for the love of the game and so was everybody else.
Now in my fourth year at Ryerson, I continue to go to the RAC for pickup basketball on occasion. Some of my greatest memories at Ryerson have come from spending time in the gym with other students.
Due to a busy schedule, I don’t play as often as I used to, but I make an effort to play as much as possible. It brings me so much joy seeing the court, field and ice packed with students in a similar position as I was.
While we are no longer seven-year-old kids playing sports in our backyards, many Ryerson students still yearn for sports and athletic competition. Thankfully Ryerson is able to come through and provide for these students with intramurals and pickup sports, because without it, my years at Ryerson would have been much less enjoyable.