Margaret Hedeman, Contributing Photographer

Last Friday, members of the Branford spikeball team arrived at the Morse-Stiles Crescent for their 4 p.m. championship match against Morse College — only to find that the match had been cancelled. 

The match’s cancellation came as a result of Yale’s move from yellow to orange COVID alert level due to  a cluster of 20 students testing positive for the virus last week. In addition to the pause on intramural competition, students in Davenport, Hopper and Saybrook began quarantining within their suites and Yale Athletics retreated back to Phase 0 of the Ivy League’s phased practice approach. As of now, the IMs pause is expected to last until at least Monday, Nov. 16 according to several IM secretaries, although there has been no official announcement about IMs resuming.

“I’d say myself and our team on the whole was just pretty disappointed that the finals got cancelled,” said Ryan Flynn ’22, a member of the Morse spikeball team. “IMs have been really the only extracurricular where we can get out of the dorms and off the screens for a bit, and so it was also just rough to lose that now. I’m not super optimistic about the finals being rescheduled before the semester ends, but I am certainly hoping that they can work something out.”

For Yale IM spikeball players like Flynn, this pause seems all too familiar. IMs, including spikeball, were put on pause earlier in the season for 13 days in response to a separate COVID cluster. This shutdown pushed the IM spikeball playoff schedule back 18 days, moving the original finals date of Oct. 19 to Nov. 6.

But now, IM spikeball’s biggest match of the season is stuck in the realm of uncertainty. The game has yet to be rescheduled, and according to Yale’s IM coordinator Rachel Cohen ’21, there is not enough information to say whether or not it will be played.

“There are too many other unknown variables for me to say anything definitive at this point,” Cohen said in an email to the News. “We were happy to be able to complete most of the fall season sports safely this semester. We will reevaluate our plan for IMs for next semester, following all public health guidelines to make sure everyone stays safe.”

This second pause in IMs comes at a bad time for both Morse and Branford. Heading into the game, Branford has a perfect 6–0 record and has dominated every team they have played this season. Morse, a humble third seed with a 4–1 record, was hoping to close out their unlikely championship run with a win over Yale’s arguably best team.

In addition, this game means much more than just spikeball bragging rights. Both colleges are in the top half of the Tyng Cup standings, with Morse in fourth and Branford in seventh. There is no telling how this pause will affect the standings when the Tyng winner is announced later this year. 

Despite the pause, Branford spikeball player and Yale club Spikeball captain Max Model ’21 had optimistic remarks about the season.

“I would say [team morale] was unaffected,” Model said. “We know we have a good enough team to win and we’re looking forward to the championship for whenever it’s rescheduled. We think spikeball is a sport that can be played safely with masks, given that the players are more than six feet apart most of the time, and there is no contact between players. For that reason we’re hopeful IMs will resume.”

The first IM spikeball game this semester was held on Sept. 21 between Morse and Pierson. 

Jordan Davidsen |