With his team clinging to a 3-0 lead in the first intramural kickball game of the Fall semester, Parker Athearn decided to go for it. After his right foot launched the ball over the head of the opposing centerfielder, he was off to the races.
A relay throw to home plate was off-target, resulting in what equates to an inside-the-park home run. His four-bagger was one of several historic firsts for Clemson’s intramural sports program on Monday, Oct. 23.
Reed Family Field at Clemson’s beautiful Snow Family Outdoor Fitness and Wellness Complex served as the setting for the event. It was the first sanctioned event on the University’s newest intramural sports venue.
“It was a huge honor to be one of the first participants on the new field,” says Athearn, who also scored the game’s final out on a catch in centerfield off a deflected kick in the next half-inning. “We didn’t take it lightly.”
Athearn’s purple team won 5-0 to get off to a fast start in the three-week regular season. His team is one of 32 competing across three leagues (men’s, women’s, co-recreational). When the regular season concludes, teams will be seeded for a single-elimination championship bracket.
Reed Family Field’s dimensions align with specifications from club softball’s fast-pitch governing body. Dimensions will be adjusted for slow-pitch intramural softball, which will be the field’s primary usage in the future.
Softball was historically one of Clemson’s most popular intramural sports, but it’s been years since it was offered. That’s all changed with the addition of Reed.
“It used to be played at the Upper Intramural Field,” says Campus Recreation’s Chris Cox, who manages the Snow Complex. “We didn’t have any fencing and it was rough for participants. But, it was just as popular as flag football and basketball.”
Cox estimates 1,000 unique students and more than 100 teams used to participate each semester. In FY23, Clemson saw 5,272 unique participants in intramurals — reflecting the massive draw softball is expected to bring to Campus Rec sport programs.
Andrew Christopher — a sophomore from Moncks Corner, South Carolina — is one of many student managers in charge of ensuring everything goes smoothly during an intramural event, and he was on-site Monday for the first kickball game on Reed Field. He says the additional space will be able to attract a wider realm of students.
“Our role is to make sure participants are pleased with everything and having fun,” he says.
Mission accomplished. At one point in Monday’s game, a member of the orange team wearing athletic shorts took an ill-advised slide into third base and exclaimed, “I’m putting my body on the line for this team!” Like the other fields at the Snow Complex, Reed is an artificial turf surface.
Not to worry … Christopher and Campus Rec’s team of managers and assistant managers are also on-site to help assist in the event of minor scrapes and burns.
Athearn and his teammates played injury-free, near-flawless kickball to advance to the next round of the regular season with a 1-0 record. He attributes the team’s performance to chemistry and grit and looks forward to the remainder of the season at the new facility.
“I played high school sports, so intramurals were always attractive,” says Athearn, a bioengineering major and the only fifth-year senior on his team. “It’s nice to be out here with friends and be able to play some competitive sports.”
It’s even nicer when you have a state-of-the-art facility serving as host.