In 2020, Duncan Grimes didn’t play organized basketball for the first time in years — and he felt it.
After a playing career at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, Grimes joined the UNC Men's Club Basketball team, keeping his game days alive. But when the pandemic sent students home in the spring of 2020, Grimes realized he might go his entire junior year without hardwood hooping.
His worst fears were confirmed when, for most of the 2020-21 academic year, UNC’s club and intramural sports were moved online.
“It was brutal, honestly,” Grimes, now a senior, said. “I love basketball, I’ve played it my whole life. It just sucked to not have that kind of outlet.”
But as the year went on, things slowly began improving. At the tail end of last semester, Grimes and the club basketball team got to have distanced, limited capacity practices. And over the summer, outdoor intramural sports like sand volleyball were opened up.
This year, campus athletics are planning to return to normal operations, with club and intramural sports set to take place almost entirely in person.
Campus Rec has two different plans drawn up for this fall, according to Justin Ford, the assistant director of sport programs. Plan A sees mostly in-person activities with a smaller list of virtual offerings, and Plan B includes mostly virtual programming should coronavirus delta variant cases surge on campus.
Campus Rec team members emphasized that their plans focus on keeping students safe.
“The majority of (intramurals and club sports) are going to be in person,” said Tori Hooker, the senior assistant director of sport programs at UNC Campus Rec. “But we are going to have a handful of opportunities that will be virtual so that people can participate wherever they feel comfortable.”