Recreational Services celebrates 100 years of intramural sports

Leaping to hit the ball over the net, a K-State student successfully gets a kill during an intramural volleyball game at the Rec Center on Nov. 6, 2018. (Archive photo by Alex Todd | Collegian Media Group)

What started as a simple timeline dispute among coworkers quickly grew into an all-out celebration of Kansas State Recreational Services and intramural sports.

Denise Telck, Communications and Marketing Assistant for Recreational Services, said the 100-year celebration of intramural sports came to life after some disagreements about the start of the program.

“We decided there was some dispute as far as when intramurals started, then I started doing research and we found, ‘Yeah, it’s our hundred year [anniversary] next year, we should celebrate,'” Telck said. “Then it just kind of spurred from that.”

According to Telck’s research, the intramural sports program began in November of 1920 with the physical education department and the creation of 33 men’s basketball teams. Women’s intramural dancing and volleyball were added in 1924 by Geneva Watson.

“A lot of it was just trying to find the history,” Telck said. “I looked through every single Collegian, every single Royal Purple, I went over to the library. I know more about this department than I ever imagined I would at this point.”

(Photo courtesy of Denise Telck | Recreational Services)
(Photo courtesy of Denise Telck | Recreational Services)

Clint Hafliger, interim director of Recreational Services, said the celebration has been in the works for a few years now.

“[Telck] has been working on this project for over two years, probably closer to three years,” Hafliger said, “so we’ve been planning this event for a long time.”

While the 100th anniversary was technically in 2020, COVID-19 put a damper on celebration plans. However, the extra time allowed Telck to find old photographs and fully dive into the program’s history.

Originally located in Nicholls Hall as part of the physical education department, the intramural program later moved to Ahearn Field House, where Recreational Services was born. There have been plenty of renovations over the past century — from updated playing fields to the opening of the Chester E. Peters Recreation Complex in 1980.

(Photo courtesy of Denise Telck | Recreational Services)
(Photo courtesy of Denise Telck | Recreational Services)

“It was Chester E. Peters’ imagination to get a building for the students, not just for athletics,” Hafliger said. “That’s kind of how the program evolved … and how this program basically formed what it is today.”

With the re-implementation of the mask mandate on campus, masks are required for intramurals and exercise inside the Rec Complex. However, outdoor intramurals will not require students to wear masks. After a slimmed-down year in 2020, Telck said she is glad to see the program growing again.

“We’re excited to have a full intramural program again,” Telck said. “After last year it was kind of abbreviated, so it’s nice to have the team sports back and have the groups.”

(Photo courtesy of Denise Telck | Recreational Services)
(Photo courtesy of Denise Telck | Recreational Services)

Hafliger said intramurals encourage socialization and create lasting relationships.

“For me, I met my wife out there on the intramural fields,” Hafliger said. “I used to play co-ed football with her and now she’s my wife. Isn’t that cool? I’ve met many friends that have met their spouse … or best friends out there on the intramural fields.”

The celebration itself is set from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 24. The event features a sand volleyball tournament, inflatable obstacle course, prizes and more. As with intramural sports, masks are required for indoor activities. Hafliger said the Rec gets sanitized frequently.

“We have the Synexis system in our building … so that helps kill some of that stuff in the air,” Hafliger said. “We also have … electrostatic sprayers, so we go around, we start to spray down the area and try to keep equipment clean.”

Students can use the Rec center at no extra cost as part of the Student Services fee, and new visitors can request a tour of the facility.

My name is Jared Shuff, and I am a former editor-in-chief of the Collegian. Previously, I worked as the arts & culture editor and as a contributing writer for the news desk. I am a senior in secondary education with an emphasis in English/journalism. I grew up in Hutchinson, Kansas, and attended Hutchinson Community College before transferring to K-State in 2020.