Never underestimate the staying power of a team forged under the auspices of the University of Manitoba’s Summer Active Fun Leagues.
For while it’s true that professional franchises have been blinking out of existence with alarming frequency these days, at least one team of staff-centric sport enthusiasts has managed to stay in the game for nearly two decades.
They’re a bit fuzzy on the exact start date, but Barbara Chappell and Shelby Juffs (both of whom work for the university’s IST Admin Systems branch) figure it’s been 18 years since they first formed their Summer Active Fun League volleyball team.
“Somebody in computer services across the street got us involved one summer,” recalls Chappell from her and Juffs’ lower-level office in the U of M’s Administration building.
“They were challenging people to come up with different sports,” continues Juffs. “He said, ‘Does anyone want to do volleyball?’ … And we enjoyed it so much we’ve just kept on playing.”
At first, the team of co-workers met once a week for a noon-hour match. But before long, they were also booking the gym for evening games, not to mention attracting more and more teammates to their ranks.
When gym space was hard to come by, they’d book a racquetball court and play walley-ball. They’ve also tried their hand at sand volleyball – and one year, even pulled off the admirable feat of staging an outdoor game in December!
A core contingent of seven or so players has been with the team from the very start, though Barb is careful to point out they welcome players of all skill levels.
“When we started out, people weren’t even setting, they were just trying to get the ball over the net,” she quips.
“Sometime when people start out, they’re a little unsure of themselves,” adds Juffs. “But it doesn’t take them long to get the hang of it.”
Given that the ladies and their co-workers were extremely active types to start with (they’ve also organized baseball, broomball and water polo leagues over the years, plus regular trips to the gym for squash matches and spin classes), it’s no surprise they’re fans of the health benefits afforded by regular daily activity.
But they’re equally enthused about the social aspect of Summer Active Fun Leagues, noting it’s helped them strike up friendships with co-workers from all over the U of M campus.
“There have been people from Grad Studies, Engineering, Agriculture – all over,” says Juffs. “It’s an excellent way to get to know people outside of work. Plus, the work we do, we’re sitting at a desk all day, so it’s nice to get out and do something physical, to get away from the stress of work.”
Sadly, the window for this year’s Summer Active Fun League has already come and gone, but if you’re interested in signing up next year, check with Kerri Gregoire, coordinator of Fitness and Lifestyle Programs for Bison Recreation Services, 474-6476 or firstname.lastname@example.org.