Popularity of club sports on the rise

Bonnie Allen, General Reporter

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville is regarded as having one of the strongest Division III conferences in the country in addition to having over 2,000 students participate in intramurals. Athletics in general can be one of the most visible aspects of a university, and for UW-Platteville, club sports are becoming increasingly popular among student athletes.

The number of club sports on campus nearly doubled within the last 10 to 15 years. UW-Platteville, which currently has over thirty club sports, has drawn an increasing amount of attention through the achievements of club sports and dedication from the student athletes involved.

“Sometimes our club teams have done very well in national competitions. Paintball, the men’s volleyball team, lacrosse and ultimate Frisbee have done well in the last few years,” director of recreational sports and facilities, Curt Fatzinger said. “There’s also a shooting club on campus. They did phenomenal last year. So competitive-wise we could compete against schools that are Division I or Division II, but they are clubs [sic.].”

One club activity that recently drew national attention was the parkour tournament held at the outdoor track at UW-Platteville, which was the first ever collegiate parkour tournament in the world.

There are three areas in which students can participate within the athletic endeavor; intramurals, club sports and intercollegiate athletics. Each supplies its own characteristics that allow students to determine which area will suit their needs in regard to time commitment, competitiveness, or financial reasons.

“They [club sports] put in their time and their money to support themselves. A lot of those clubs raise money on their own to supplement, plus some clubs charge their members to participate,” said Fatzinger. “I know hockey is an expensive sport anyway. When they go to Dubuque they have to pay ‘x’ amount of dollars for ice time. That’s the money they have to make up in dues or get money from SUFAC.”

Dues for the hockey team this year are $950 and that includes the cost of jerseys and other apparel items. In addition, the players supply their own equipment. However, SUFAC generously grants a portion of the team’s funding.

A number of student athletes choose to participate in club sports in order to still be able to play at the competitive level unlike intramurals, which holds a large number of athletes with a wide range of abilities, or intercollegiate athletics, which may cut recruited athletes.

“The difference between playing in a club verses an NCAA team is that I would not play at all if I tried out for an NCAA team. Hockey is a very different sport as far as recruiting,” hockey player, Nate Wojtynek said. “Ninety percent of NCAA hockey players, whether it’s DI or DIII, have played junior hockey either during or after high school to develop. The skill gap between DI and DIII is narrow. So basically the club allows me to play still.”

One of the main differences between club sports and intercollegiate athletics are the regulations put into place in accordance with the NCAA. A majority of club sports have more flexibility in regard to scheduling practices and academic requirements.

“I’d say club sports are probably more open. Not more open that they are accepting more people because both the university and club sports are fantastic opportunities for students, but the university sanctioned athletics also operates within the NCAA,” Involvement Coordinator Brian Yingst said. “The NCAA has their own compliance regulations that they need to follow, such as study hours logged, where club sports don’t necessarily have to follow those rules.”

From a facility standpoint, the growing number of club sports is causing a shortage of space.

“They [club sports] share the pitches down by memorial park. I have almost all my outdoor teams using that down there with the exception of soccer. Miners Field is also used by some of the club teams too, such as lacrosse and ultimate Frisbee,” Fatzinger said. “We don’t have any other outdoor facilities and the athletic facilities are the athletic facilities only.”

Both intramurals and club sports are scheduled around practice times, oftentimes starting practice around 10 p.m. In order to alleviate the shortage of indoor space and ensure better practice times, four more courts will be added to the indoor facilities in order for intramurals and club sports. This will also give a wider window of available use.

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