Q&A: CMS’ Matt Ryan on an alternative to varsity athletics

CMS assistant director of recreation Matt Ryan is entering his seventh calendar year with CMS athletics. Courtesy: CMS Athletics


Matt Ryan, who is the assistant director of recreation at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) athletics, recently sat down with TSL and explained his reasons for working with intramural sports at CMS and club sports at the 5Cs, highlighting the benefits they bring to students here in Claremont. This will be his seventh calendar year at CMS.

This conversation has been lightly condensed and edited for clarity.

TSL: What is your role at CMS Athletics? 

Matt Ryan: I oversee the intramural program, and I co-lead the 5C club sports program with the recreation professional over at Pomona-Pitzer. But I also have many different tasks within my job … I assist in group fitness [at Roberts Pavilion], and the front desk staff and I work with the recreation team at CMS in coming up with other programming like the 5C5K, for example. I also do work on the athletics side, too. I oversee the administrative portion for athletic camps, and I help out with special events — like most recently, the volleyball regionals and things of that nature. 

TSL: What made you want to work at this position or in this field post-grad? 

MR: When I was in college, I worked in the intramural department. I was a flag football, basketball and softball referee. I had a lot of fun with it, and I realized I really wanted to work in athletics. That year was one of my favorite years of my life. I got to connect with students and watch them have fun. I think varsity athletics is a great thing, but it’s more of the business model. It’s obviously there to put forth joy in a student athlete’s life and all those things, but winning is cared about. In intramural sports, people might care about winning, but at the end of the day, it’s mostly about socializing and taking that mental break from your studies … So that was what I think really sold me on this job.

TSL: Why do you think club and intramural sports are really important for a college campus? 

MR: Mostly, I think the most important part is what it does for your mental wellness. When you’re stressed and have a ton of homework, students think they can’t take an hour break or whatever. But honestly, [it] allows you to have that release for a little while to take your mind off things. 

I also think intramurals bring people together that wouldn’t have already been associated with each other. For me personally, I have a friend that I invited to my intramural team in college. He was a free agent when he was a freshman, and 13 years later, we’re still friends. We would have never met if it wasn’t for him wanting to play intramural frisbee and not having a team to play on. As for my staff, a lot of them are Scripps [College] students [and] there are a couple Harvey Mudd [College] students, they say, “I wouldn’t have ever spent this much time with people at [Claremont McKenna College] if it wasn’t for me working this job.” Watching friendships being made through my staff is cool. I hope that rings true for participants who are playing intramural sports.

TSL: What are you most excited about this semester?

MR: I’m always excited about intramural basketball season because it’s really a time where I get to watch my staff grow on a personal level. Reffing basketball is hard. Basketball, by nature, is a sport where at almost all levels, coaches, players and fans are arguing. It’s a hard game to officiate because my staff doesn’t want to be potentially yelled at by their peers. I like it because I get to watch them get outside their comfort zone and get better. I can see my staff becoming confident in themselves and knowing how to manage the game.

TSL: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about you, intramurals, club sports or about Roberts Pavilion? 

MR: That’s a great question. I would say if you have not [before], come and check out our programming … We’ve got lots of different things. We have trivia night every Thursday. We have this “Fabulous February” bingo challenge coming up. We are also going to lead people on some hikes through the Claremont loop. We have yoga, spin and lots of dance classes. I truly do believe that there’s something for everyone. 

The other thing I would say is that we don’t have everything figured out. If you have ideas or want to see programming that we don’t offer, we’re always open to suggestions. All club sports are formed through students initiating [them]. Students come to us and they’re like, “Hey, I’m interested in starting XYZ club. How do I do that?” And then we provide them with the resources they need, and they go forward and formulate the club. So, if you’re interested in anything, whether it’s [recreational] programming or club sports, and we don’t have it, come talk to us about it.

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