Intramural Basketball League Grows in Size — and fun

Photo courtesy of Tim Bradley

IBL poses for a team photo before jumping into the court for a game.

One of the most popular winter sports on campus is intramural basketball, which is known as the Intramural Basketball League (IBL). IBL convenes three times a week on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings and this year, the league is made up of 32 students. At the beginning of the season, four captains, usually seniors, pick their teams that virtually remain the same for the whole season. The teams remain the same unless the coaches determine that a team is winning or losing too many games. This year’s captains are Donovan Lynch ’18, Ryan Burlage ’18, Canaan Case ’18, and Nils Lovegren ’18. All of the captains have been playing for at least three years. One of the most popular winter sports on campus is intramural basketball, which is known as the Intramural Basketball League (IBL). IBL convenes three times a week on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings and this year, the league is made up of 32 students. At the beginning of the season, four captains, usually seniors, pick their teams that virtually remain the same for the whole season. The teams remain the same unless the coaches determine that a team is winning or losing too many games. This year’s captains are Donovan Lynch ’18, Ryan Burlage ’18, Canaan Case ’18, and Nils Lovegren ’18. All of the captains have been playing for at least three years.

When asked about the most enjoyable thing about IBL, the coaches Mr. John Bjorkdahl and Mr. Tim Bradley said, “The fact that we play basketball. No practices, no drills, no running around the perimeter of the court, nothing. We play basketball. And the students love that. That’s why they sign on. They just want to play.” Obviously, IBL is not just fun for the players, as Coach Bradley and Coach Bjorkdahl have been running the league at Choate for twenty years now.

Each team plays multiple games each night, and this year, IBL has an 82 game schedule, which culminates in the round-robin tournament at the end where a champion is eventually crowned. The teams have played about half of the season so far and Lynch’s team, the Red Team, sits at about .500 with an 18-17 record this season. The coaches just supervise the players, letting the athletes run almost everything with the league, from keeping score to refereeing to keeping track of the uniforms and equipment.

As much as an intramural sport may sound like it is just people messing around, IBL isn’t like that. The league is organized and competitive, as many players take it seriously. Lynch said, “The most fun thing is the competitive spirit of each game, which the organized nature of the league helps to foster. You feel like you might as well be playing in an NBA game.” It is something the players love because not everybody has a winter sport, but many students still want to do something competitive, and the IBL serves as that option for all. However, fun is still the most important thing about IBL.

One of the other popular things about IBL is the post-season awards dinner, known as the Season Ceremony. The players and the coaches have pizza, cake, and ice cream while they look at a slideshow from the season or even a highlight tape. Mr. Bradley and Mr. Bjorkdahl then give out participation awards, the championship trophy — a trophy for the team with the best record — and special awards. The special awards can vary quite a bit, but they hand out the typical awards too, like Most Valuable Player, Most Improved Player, the Coaches’ Award, and Best three-point shot. However, some unusual awards have also been given out. Coach Bjorkdahl and Coach Bradley said, “Over the years, we’ve had some interesting and fun special awards. Awards such as Most Fashionable, Best Dressed, Best Hat, Best Celebrity Look-Alike, Loudest Team Supporter, Most Argumentation to the Coaches, Biggest Complainer, and the Shadow Man — or the Player who was Hardest to Find.”

As awesome as IBL sounds, the league has faced difficulty getting enough students to sign up so they can have four teams. A few years ago, only 14 kids signed up to play in the IBL, which is a pretty big problem as there needs to be 20 players in the league in order for there to be four teams of five; however, there have been times when so many people signed up that they needed to create more teams. One year, over 50 students signed up, so a fifth team was added to the league.

The players and coaches get to be pretty close over an 82-game season, so it’s a great bonding experience, as a lot of people who play tend to come back and play the next year too. The coaches and players are clearly very passionate about the sport and the league, so anybody without a winter sport that wants to have a lot of fun or play competitive basketball with friends should make sure to check out IBL.

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