With an accumulation of 41 national appearances in the past 10 years, club sports here at UMD have been a roaring success. While these teams have achieved national recognition and respect, that is something that has yet to be grasped on campus. While sharing the spotlight with Division I and II athletics, club sports often find themselves overlooked.
The Recreational Sports Outdoor Program (RSOP) has made a push in the last few years by providing more support for the club sports teams. One of the major moves that they made was hiring Derek Donlevy as sport club coordinator this past year.
“Club sport programs are becoming a national trend and programs everywhere are taking off,” Donlevy said. “Over the last five years, 10 new clubs have been added to our current program.”
Donlevy’s presence here at UMD has sparked many new changes. For example, this year is the first year that RSOP has had a full-time coordinator at the club level. Also, students are now being hired to supervise practices for the first time.
“Our next step is to better financially support the club teams, as well as to provide athletic trainers for each sport,” Donlevy said.
Donlevy also touched on a unique aspect of club sports that many people may not know too much about.
“Student development is an unseen, but important part of the club process here,” he said. “All of the clubs are student led, with students handling game schedules, budgeting, and marketing for their club teams.”
However, the coordinator is not the only one to think that there are aspects of club sports that are overlooked.
“Unlike varsity teams, clubs need to find and hire their own coaches,” said Hannah Sahli, the president of the women’s rugby club and an executive board member of the club sports program. “They also run their own team account, pay to travel out of pocket, and plan their games and tournaments. Being a part of a club team is an experience that is unlike anything else on campus.”
Isaiah Neal, a midfielder for the UMD club lacrosse team, said, “I believe that people truly don’t see the hard work and determination it takes to play a club sport. For programs that continue to raise the bar and consistently be a threat to other schools, the university most certainly should show more focus and appreciation for them.”
The lacrosse team here at Duluth has reached nationals nine out of the past 10 years.
With the continuing success and progression of the club sports teams here at UMD, club athletes hope that appreciation and recognition of their sports may continue on campus.
As programs continue to grow, keep an eye out for additional news outlets and media tools to surface, which will make it easier to track club sport development, as well as updates and game scores.
BY CHRIS ECKHOFF firstname.lastname@example.org