Recreation Corner - Match point: Lasting friendships found during low-stakes bumps, sets, spikes

Students play volleyball in the Fanshawe gym. CREDIT: AGATA LESNIK, FANSHAWE CAMPUS RECREATION
Business Marketing student Kaitlyn Hooper plays intramural volleyball through Fanshawe's campus recreation programming, and also works as part of the team in the Student Wellness Centre.

There is an age-old debate about whether friendship breeds winning or winning breeds friendship. For Kaitlyn Hooper, there is no distinction between the two; bonds formed on and off the court are signs of success, regardless of the score.

Hooper, a Business Marketing student who also works for Fanshawe’s Athletics and Recreation department, said friendships are a major factor in her love of Fanshawe’s intramural, self-directed and open recreation programming (aka Campus Rec).

“Being as outgoing as I am, I love the connections made through mutual interests like sports,” she said. “With the COVID-19 restrictions being mostly gone this year, I wanted to experience college to its full extent. I knew Campus Recreation would be the perfect place for me to make lasting friendships and learn a whole lot more about teamwork, considering I play volleyball.”

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For many people, the thought of volleyball conjures one of two images: either it is a competitive sport filled with intense, decisive play or merely a friendly, casual way to pass time at a beach or backyard. Hooper has discovered a middle ground at Fanshawe, where students of any skill level can form impromptu teams and join intramural matches for the sake of athletic enjoyment and a positive social experience. The programming is designed with a ‘fun first’ focus and revolves around team-building as much as it does around specific sporting activities. Hooper learned that when signing up for her first Intramural Volleyball game.

“My classmate, my boyfriend, and I put a team in but also picked up a few people who had signed up as individuals so we weren’t really sure who would be on our team,” she explained. “We weren’t really playing well at first, because we all had to work through some communication issues we were having.”

Between games, the players brainstormed ideas to maximize on each other’s strengths and agreed on some basic rules for interaction together.

“The next game we played we did very well, and it was all because of the teamwork and communication skills we used,” Hooper said, noting how the fun and camaraderie continued off the court. “After the game, we all went out to celebrate at the Out Back Shack; lots of friendships were made after that team bonding. Now we make it a ritual after every game to go get some food and drinks and just wind down.”

Hooper prides herself on building and maintaining successful relationships like those, and credits Fanshawe for benefiting her body and mind as well as her social life.

“I have made awesome friendships right here at school, both in and out of my program,” she said. “I love to hang out with friends and I always make sure my needs, as well as the needs of people around me, are fulfilled. The stress of college life can be overwhelming sometimes but taking some time to yourself to unwind and get involved with recreation programs can really help you achieve some balance.”

Any students hoping for the same kind of stress relief, social boost and a light workout through the familiar ‘bump-set-spike’ are welcome to try out Fanshawe’s drop-in or intramural volleyball options, which can be found online at studentwellnesscentre.ca. You can also sign up at the desk in the Student Wellness Centre, where you may even get a chance to say hello to Hooper and personally experience a dose of her positive encouragement.

“Don’t be afraid to try new things and get involved,” she insisted. “It can be scary to go outside your comfort zone and sign up for things, especially if you don’t know anyone at the school, but trust me: it is all worth it. Since joining Campus Rec, I can genuinely say the people you meet along the way will make lasting impressions and some will become lifelong friends!”

Contributed by Fanshawe College Athletics and Recreation