Club athletes prove their dedication

By By Tye Smith

By Tye Smith

Campus Recreation Services is the backbone of club sports at the U. By allowing students to participate against other collegiate athletes in unconventional sports, campus recreation provides a welcomed service for many students. The U offers club sports ranging all the way from karate and fencing to ultimate frisbee and marksmanship.

While several options are offered, participation in a club sport at the U can be costly for students, both in time and money. Club sports are rarely fully funded, and after years of negligent behavior by the hockey team-which was dropped last season-standards have become even more stringent for obtaining funding.

This year, clubs will be unable to receive funding until they are fully certified by the Associated Students of the University of Utah, but even full ASUU certification does not guarantee that a club will get money-it simply enables the club to apply for money. This could be a challenge for many of the club sports because they are already required to register with campus recreation to be considered a “club.” According to Julian Gomez, a representative of campus recreation, the process should not be very difficult.

“The only difference this year is that club sports will have to go through ASUU,” he said. “They will be doing double duty.”

Gomez was quick to explain that ASUU certification was nothing new for club sports-it’s just that now, certification is a requirement for the clubs.

Despite the financial limitations, many club sports at the U are achieving amazing results with remarkably little support.

Rugby

Last year, the rugby team accomplished strong results throughout the season, before finally losing in the Sweet 16 of the national tournament. Expectations were high coming off a 2002 season where the team closed the year with a second place performance at nationals. The outlook for this year is positive, even in the face of budgetary limitations.

Mark Numbers, a coach for the team, explained that while the school provides about $1,000 per year for the entire team, the cost of running the team is usually around $30,000. The disparity is made up for by local sponsors and fund-raisers.

“The guys work hard on and off the field to make it work,” Numbers said, pointing out that the rugby team is made up of men that are “really dedicated.”

Numbers did explain, however, that when the rugby team needed money for nationals two years ago, the school was able to pull some strings to get some extra funding. “The school has helped us out when we really needed it.” This bodes well for a team that expects to be back in the national tournament again this year.

Marksmanship

Most colleges do not offer any kind of shooting sports as a part of the curriculum, and it’s even rarer to find a university that offers scholarships to renowned shooters. For this reason, the U has become a national power in the club sport of marksmanship.

According to Matt Delong, head coach of the team and teacher of the marksmanship class, the U is able to recruit from all over the country. Delong is confident that recruits from Michigan and Montana will end up at the U as soon as next year.

Expectations are high for the marksmanship team, which consistently makes it to the national tournament.

“We’ve qualified every year since ’97, and I guarantee we will go this year,” Delong said.

The team is still in serious need of a final competitor for the women’s team in order to field a full squad. “We have two experienced women and we need one more,” Delong said.

Lacrosse

It might have a funny, European sounding name, but lacrosse is anything but a joke at the U.

As a team, the U lacrosse team receives no scholarships for its athletes, yet the Utes perform consistently well. Last year, they finished the season ranked third in the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Lacrosse League (RMILL) and won a match against eventual national champion Colorado State. Head coach Mason Goodhand was voted Coach of the Year as a result of the remarkable performance of a drastically underfunded program.

Goals for the upcoming season include beating BYU and qualifying for the national championships in St. Louis. These goals could prove to be extremely difficult considering the financial constraints the team is working under. According to team representative Robbie Bell, the school has again denied funding to the team. “They left us high and dry,” said Bell. “Students at the U have to pay to play.”

Trying to remain positive about the prospect of receiving funding, Bell said, “I think they’re (ASUU) trying to help us-we just haven’t gotten to the highest person.”

Racquetball

The racquetball team is coming off an impressive season last year that included an individual winner at the Intercollegiate National Championships. Kristen Walsh, now ranked No. 8 in the world on the pro tour, accomplished the rare feat.

Competing in one of the toughest regions in the country, the racquetball team has overcome considerable odds to perform at such a high level.

Expectations are high this season, not just for individual performances, but for the team as well.

“This year, we want to make a run for the national championships,” said Chris Johnson, president of the racquetball squad. “We are planning on having a very good year this year.”

Like most club sports, racquetball receives no funding and no scholarships. “Everything we did last year was from fund raising and our own pockets,” Johnson said. From all indications, this year will be no exception.

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