Irish Immigrant Shares His Story and Love for Intramurals

Alex Burke, a first-year software engineering major, is a young man with a story that stretches five thousand miles across the globe. This story is his family’s immigration story, and it is simple to follow. It also shines light on an underrepresented topic surrounding the Cal Poly intramural sports culture.

Since Burke was a part of his family’s immigration story, he believes he has valuable words to share that not only advocate for tolerance, but are relatable to anyone who also has roots beyond our American borders.

Burke emigrated from Clifden, Ireland to Chicago with his family in May of 2008. He and his family were in search of an escape from their “impoverished homeland.” Burke, who was eight years old at the time, did not know what to expect from life in America, especially from a city like Chicago that’s so vast, urban, and different than the rural farmlands he knew in Clifden.

“It was pretty tough for me, being such a young kid and knowing everything, or what I thought was everything, in Ireland. When I got to America, I realized that there was so much more and everything was so much bigger,” Burke said.

By the time he was 11 years old, Burke joined his parents, two brothers, and sister in a migration to Los Altos, California. It was there in Los Altos that Burke finally settled in for a period as long as when he lived in Clifden, attending Loyola Elementary School and Bellarmine High School. It was also there in Los Altos that he heard of all the prestigious universities in California–and California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo was one of them.

“The science behind computers and technology has always fascinated me, especially when I arrived in Los Altos and was only a 15 minute drive away from Apple headquarters in Cupertino. I also heard that Cal Poly was nationally known for its engineering and architecture programs. All that combined with the fact that Cal Poly was only 200 miles from my home made it seem like a pretty obvious decision to attend,” Burke said.

“Everyone could tell that he had a passion for software engineering. Not only is he exposed to great education, but he isn’t far from home as well, which makes me feel easier about his college experience,” Burke’s mother, Heidi, said.

Burke is one of over a hundred Cal Poly students to participate in ASI intramural sports this quarter. He thinks highly of the program, believing it’s possible to use it as a way to allow those born and bred in America to understand his story.  

“Intramurals have been super influential in terms of fitting in with other people. It has allowed me to make great friends that I otherwise would not have made if I hadn’t participated,” Burke said.

Burke also feels that the particular sport he plays adds more enjoyment to his overall intramural experience. This quarter, he joined the Division III co-ed Ultimate frisbee team MCUUFA managed by Captain Mitchell Carroll.

“Ultimate Frisbee specifically has been a special extra-curricular because it’s not as customary or popular as football, basketball, or soccer are at Cal Poly. Also, I’m playing in a co-ed league, so my competitiveness as been driven differently than I feel it would have been if I played football or basketball,” Burke said.

Alex shares these sentiments about Ultimate Frisbee, also referred to simply as Ultimate, with other Cal Poly students and even recreational competitors outside of Cal Poly.

Engineering freshman Marcus Able, is one of Burke’s teammates.

“I like Ultimate because it can be taken seriously and lightly. It is more slow-paced than other sports, so it really allows the players and anyone spectating to grasp its uniqueness,” said first-year engineering major Marcus Able.

Brady Teufel, a Cal Poly Journalism professor, was a weekend recreational Ultimate player this quarter and also had words to share about the sport.

“It’s unique because unlike ball sports where the trajectory of the ball is linear, the trajectory of the frisbee is bend, float, and bang on the wind, resulting in some mysterious flight patterns and zanny chase-downs.” said Teufel.

Burke is grateful that every teammate of his has been accepting of his Irish background. His teammates actually embraced his background by integrating aspects of Irish culture into their games. An example of this integration includes calling Alex’s name in a playful and respectful Irish accent to let him know whenever the frisbee is thrown his way.

“Out on the field, everything changes. Everyone accepts me for who I am as an athlete, as a student, and as a person,.” Burke said.

MCUUFA finished their 2019 Spring regular season as the third seed of their division with a 2-3 mark. They were bounced out the playoffs after a 10-4 loss to Captain Jonah Basl’s Eric Zhong’s Team in the first round. Click here to learn more this quarter’s Ultimate frisbee season.

“Sure the season ended earlier than I intended, but I certainly had a blast,” Burke said.

Burke makes it evident that he is always open to sharing his story with those interested enough to listen and learn from it. He hopes that stories like his own will teach and welcome diversity on the Cal Poly campus for years to come.  


2019 Spring Regular Season Concludes for Football, Soccer, and Basketball

The past week marked the end of the Spring regular season for intramural flag football, soccer, and basketball. It is now win or go home for all the teams moving on to the postseason.

Here’s a brief recap of what transpired this regular season. The following teams finished atop the standings of their respective sports’ division/section.

Captain John Michael Theofandies’s No Punt Intended.

Captain Jeffrey Martin’s Team 4

Captain John Shutler’s Avg_at_Best

Captain Chase Braun’s Team Braun

Captain Cody Griffith’s Space Force

Captain Jesse Wang’s The Hopfes

Captain Kyle Friedman’s Smol

Captain Charlie Taylor’s Net Six and Chill

Captain Darya Darvish’s SauceMoney

Captain Kenny Won’s Team Too

Captain Braden Hotra’s Real City Sporting FC

Click here to view the full standings for every sport.

Playoffs will start this Monday (5/19). Depending on how many teams in each division/section qualified for the postseason, this period should last anywhere from two to three weeks, with each team playing a single game per week. According to ASI, referees will be advised to more strictly follow intramural guidelines in the postseason than they did in the regular season to prevent bad sportsmanship among opposing players and maintain competitive integrity.

“The regular season was fun, but now in the playoffs, we are all aware that our season can end after just one bad game. We want to continue having fun,” said Jonathan Li, captain of the Division II flag football squad Show Us Your TD’s.

Team Manager Proves How Valuable Leadership is in Intramurals

Every team involved in intramural sports is started by one or two enthusiastic students. They assemble all the players on their roster and attend mandatory meetings. These people are intramural team managers. They are the internal leaders of the intramural program.

Jonathan Li, a first-year chemical engineering major, is currently a team manager for a Division II 7v7 flag football team. This is his first year in intramurals all-together.

For many students, intramural sports are a chance to let loose and have fun with friends and peers. For Jon, they are a chance to not only have fun, but to assert athletic dominance and championship pedigree. This was Jon’s perception going into the Spring season, successfully recruiting around a dozen players who share his mentality.

However, Jon is by no means solely a team manager. He also assumes the role of an attentive and spiritual supporter for his players. His dedication to leadership is a key reason why is team is currently atop the Division II flag football standings this quarter.

Doerr Field’s Role at Cal Poly

Doerr Family Field is the newest practice, intramural, and recreational facility Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has to offer for its community, located on the south end of campus next to the newly refurbished track and field area, tennis courts, and the Grand Avenue parking structure.

Ground broke in July of 2017 and construction lasted seven months until it was dedicated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on February 2, 2018. To learn more about the ribbon-cutting ceremony, visit Doerr Family Field.

Named after the family of former Cal Poly football player and alumni Richard A. Doerr, the 140m site includes a standard 48.5m x 109.1m synthetic turf football field, a pair of filming towers, a shed area, lighting, and a scoreboard on the north end of the field.

In May of 2017, Cal Poly Corporation, a non-profit organization that provides financing and service for Cal Poly, donated a generous fund of $750 thousand to the construction of the Doerr Family Field. This was one of the heftiest donation the $4.8 million project had received.

Visit Practice Field to learn more about the construction project.

The field is shared by not only various Cal Poly sports, but by Associated Students Inc. (ASI), marching band, and students alike.

“This project represents exactly what the Cal Poly Corporation is all about and what we work hard to do – to support Cal Poly and to work with others to create a positive impact for this campus,” said Lorlie Leetham, executive director for Cal Poly Corporation, in an article by the Corp’s media center (Cal Poly Corp.).

With Doerr field being publicly available for the entire Cal Poly community to enjoy for over a year now, and since it has been an enormous edition to the intramural program, it’s important to appreciate how it has impacted campus as a whole. Here is what goes on at the field on a regular basis:

Doerr Field serves as a venue for competitive students not associated with intramurals or university sports to partake in some of their favorite physical activities. These activities most commonly include tossing frisbees and playing spikeball, also referred to as roundball.

Doerr Field spike-ballers going at it.

The marching band often conducts their practice performances on Doerr family Field before sports games. Students, visitors, or faculty members walking past the field are frequently treated to resounding music.

Almost everyday of the week, the field is used by any of the 21 recognized Cal Poly athletic teams. Practice hours and claims to the field vary among teams, but the football team tends to be the most avid user, with their practices taking place early in the morning.  

Cal Poly Soccer team practicing.

And, of course, Doerr Family Field has been of great help to ASI intramurals. It serves as a new and extra venue for outdoor intramurals. Sports that occur on Doerr Field include 7v7 flag football, ultimate frisbee, and soccer.

Intramural ultimate frisbee players competing.

“The field has been very convenient for ASI and everyone involved in intramural sports because now referees and players don’t always have to travel across the entire campus to the old practice fields.” said in a statement by the ASI intramural office.

There is no doubt that with the increasing reliability on Doerr Family Field to accommodate various Cal Poly events and programs, it will continue to be a hot-spot location on campus.

Infographic for Blog Post:

NCAA Cracks down on Cal Poly

On April 18th, the NCAA set forth sanctions against California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo over incentives given to Cal Poly student athletes by the Cal Poly Athletic Department for textbooks.

Not only does Cal Poly have to pay a $5000 fine for breaching NCAA code, but they will no longer get to recognize any wins or postseason participation in any athletic activity over the past 3 years.  

Reaction to this news has mostly been negative.

Even national figures like former Detroit basketball coach and current sportscaster Dick Vitale had thoughts of their own on the controversy…and they weren’t positive.

To learn more about the controversy, visit here.

What will be left for interpretation right now will be whether this news will impact intramural sports participation. With Cal Poly’s major sports programs fulfilling limited success, will these NCAA sanctions reduce any sort of competitive spirit for on-campus sports in general? Only time will tell because no drastic effects on intramural sports participation have been noticed yet.

ASI Scraps Division II League Two from Spring Intramural Football

Cal Poly Spring intramural 7v7 football is only a week away from kickoff and controversy has

already surfaced. On Monday, April 8, the Associated Student Inc. (ASI) scrapped their Division II

League Two due to an insufficient amount of teams willing to participate. The scrapping

resulted with disappointment from intramural players, team managers, and ASI referees alike.

Why did this happen?

During the duration of sign-ups for Spring intramural football, Division II League Two

accumulated only three enthusiastic teams. This was a noticeable difference from previous

seasons. After the decision was made final, the players signed up for Division II League Two

were given these options: to agree to play in Division III or decide not to play in any league and

request a refund of their initial deposits to play from ASI. Despite the additional opportunity to

play in Division III, no team took the offer.

“The decision to scrap the league was made due to how the league would operate with only

three teams. With that few teams, each team would only play two regular season games and

the preferred structure of the playoff bracket would not be possible, thus the scrapping was

the only reasonable option.” said the Cal Poly Intramural Sports Office at the Recreational


What was ASI Looking for in Division II League Two?

Currently, Division II League One, which hosts their regular and postseason games on Monday

nights between 8:30 and 10:30 pm, is compiled of six teams-a single team improvement from

Winter 2019. This number requires four regular season games and one bye-week for each team

and two first round playoff games with the victor of each game to matchup with one of the two

teams who earned first round byes. This was the intended league format for Division II League

Two according to the Intramural Sports Office. Click here to visit Cal Poly’s IMLeagues page to

learn more.

“It’s unfortunate because a lot of people wanted to play, especially this season. This league,

me, was an opportunity for more kids to participate in recreational sports and just have fun.

However, I don’t feel like it would’ve been a whole lot of fun competing with only a few other

teams,” said Matt Kaimer, a first-year business administration major who signed up for Spring

Division II League Two as a team manager, reacting to the decision to scrap the league.

Photo by ASI Cal Poly

What will be the future of intramural football?

What will be interesting to note would be how

participation in intramural football alters come Fall

2019 due to this ruling. There are hopes that this

quarter’s disappointment will drive an ample

number of teams to sign up for Division II League Two

next season to avoid this from happening again, instead of teams losing interest in Division II

League Two and possibly not signing up for seasons to come, which could potentially result in a

permanent removal.

Despite the removal of Division II League Two from this quarter’s intramural season, there’s still

a lot to look forward to in Division I, Division II League One, and Division III. For updates

regarding intramural games of every kind, visit IMLeague.