In 2005, Dean of the School of Religion Dean Greg King joined Old School, an intramural team created by former School of Journalism and Communication Professor Andy Nash almost exclusively made up of faculty. When the group of employees and professors weren’t roaming the halls of Brock or Hackman Hall in a suit and tie that year, they were lacing up on the courts and fields.
Little did they know, 17 years later, their team would still be thriving in almost every sport.
Old School made history last month as they mercy-ruled their way to their first B-league flagball championship in team history. But this year’s championship is only one of many success stories the team has created since year one.
“A number of second and third place finishes over the years… two or three [championships] in basketball,” said a pondering King, now in his early sixties, reminiscing over his nearly two-decade long tenure with the team.
Old School’s reputation within the sphere of regular intramural athletes is consistent across the board: competitive, organized and disciplined.
“I guess it can be somewhat of an advantage playing together for so many years,” said Hulsey Facility Manager Darin Bissell, who has been a member of Old School for at least 12 years.
This year’s flagball run was no exception. Senior mathematics major Alex Staton had nothing but praise for his teammates.
“They were awesome,” he said. “King threw dimes all year. I [played wide receiver] … and only twice did I have to make a 50-50 catch.”
Staton is one of the few students to play on Old School. The 27-year-old has been on the team for several years. But with a December graduation just around the corner, this was his last semester with the team.
“[When I first joined the team], I was older than most students and had more friends in the faculty,” Staton said. “Dr. King invited me to fill [Old School’s] need as wide receiver, and we spent the past three years putting up solid numbers. It was the greatest team I’ve been a part of since high school, and there’s no better way I could have scripted my last intramural season.”
Despite Old School’s unquestionable success, positive reputation across every league, the unanticipated athleticism they exhibit each game, and the numbers they put up, the most striking thing about them is their passion.
While the Old School roster changes from year to year, its core members see intramurals as more than just a game. Biology professor Tim Trott, 47, has been an integral part of the team for nearly a decade.
“I say this tongue and cheek, and it’s mostly a joke … but there’s nothing better than beating college kids,” Trott said with a grin. But soon after that, he took on a more serious tone: “You get to see students in a completely different way, and students get to see you in a different way too. That’s a big reason I play.”
Connecting with students seems to be a shared value among the members of Old School.
When asked about the most rewarding part of playing with Old School, King answered with startling eagerness: “the relationships.”
“While individual sports can be fun,” he continued, “there is something that’s nice about working with a team whose goal is greater than the sum of its parts. … So, I would say I really enjoy the friendships and the teamwork that come with working together with a group to try to accomplish a larger objective.”
King also said that for him, there’s so much more to sports than wins or losses. Rather, intramurals is about using one’s “talents for God’s glory.”
“At the end of the day,” King said, “representing Jesus wherever I’m at is something that matters a great deal to me. So, my hope is that all of us will learn that there are lessons that are more important than winning or losing a specific game. But, ‘what type of person are we as we play each other in a sports contest?’”
Old School’s 17-year history has cemented them as a team that highlights the best part of sports: teamwork, leadership and relationship-building. It’s a team that reminds us all why sports has such a forceful grip on so many. It’s not just the competition, nor is it the intoxicating rush you get from beating a group of men “half your age,” as Trott teased. It is, before all else, the ability to congregate as peers and experience the thrill of organized sports and the opportunity to connect with new people.