Updates on the J.B. O’Keefe Fitness Centre and intramurals

Athletics officials at St. Thomas University have been speaking with sports representatives and STU Residence Life to coordinate how the return of intramurals will be. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

The J.B. O’Keefe Fitness Centre plans to bring back intramurals by January 2022, taking into consideration COVID-19 regulations.

Michael Eagles, the athletics director at St. Thomas University, said he’s talked to the sports representatives and residence life to coordinate the return of intramurals.

“For the people on campus here at St. Thomas who maybe weren’t as serious about their intramural experience and wanted to just have fun and play – our intramurals are modified in terms of basketball and volleyball because our gym is smaller,” he said.

Eagles said due to these modifications, the team sizes are also different. For basketball, it is four against four and the teams are co-ed as well.

Eagles said after a year without intramurals, its popularity among current students declined.

“When something doesn’t happen for a year and a half, they’re slow to get back to the normal of what they had before.”

Eagles said students haven’t inquired about intramurals because they’re not fully comfortable yet or haven’t been informed about them.

“The incoming people are not used to having intramurals,” said Eagles. “I think it’s like starting all over again.”

He said now that the fourth-wave of the pandemic is starting to lighten up, students may begin to feel comfortable again to play.

In the past, intramural teams were made up of students from different residences, but Eagles said this changed since Rigby and Chatham are no longer offered.

Intramurals are also available to off-campus students. Eagles said there was a past team of New Brunswick Community College students who played volleyball and basketball.

The J.B. O’Keefe Fitness Centre is still available for students looking for a place to exercise, although there are guidelines in place. Contact tracing, distancing and mask mandates are required in order to use the facility.

“We’d rather do too much than not enough,” said Eagles. “We want to make sure that we’re on the safe side of everything.”

During the yellow phase, the maximum capacity was 15 – requiring gym-goers to book a slot online. In the green phase, that is no longer necessary, but visitors are required to use hand sanitizer when entering the gym. Spotters are allowed as well, as long as they keep their masks on at all times.

Eagles said the J.B. O’Keefe is an asset to the city and the student community.

“It’s an important part of campus life and student life for people to to keep up their health and wellness,” he said.

“We want to encourage all people if they haven’t been to the J.B. O’Keefe to come in and see the facility and hopefully get a lot of use out of it during their time at St. Thomas.”