New application opens lane for club sports

by Matt Couture / Beacon Staff • January 27, 2016

Rugby fanatics, hockey stars, and curling enthusiasts: You could soon be wearing purple and gold. An extensive process is underway for groups that seek recognition as an Emerson College club sport by fall 2016. 

A board of five, comprised of two representatives from the Student Government Association, two athletics representatives, and SGA vice president Gabriela Kula will review proposals from any interested parties. According to the application packet, Kula’s group will have the option of accepting the club with or without additional funding, or rejecting it. 

Kula said the decision-makers are seeking organizations with experience and, according to application materials released, a minimum of one year of “productive” existence is required. 

“We want you to be really well established, just so we’re comfortable that when we recognize you, and potentially give you a budget, [the sport is] not going to end with you,” Kula, a junior journalism major, said. “This is a club sport that’s going to be around for many Emersonians in generations to come.” 

The preliminary work to establish guidelines was handled by athletic director Patricia Nicol and interim associate dean of students Steven Martin. Nicol said a third choice between intramurals and NCAA play will enrich the college.

“It’s exciting,” Nicol said. “It’s all about just providing the option, providing the opportunity for a healthy activity for our students, in a competitive situation.”

Martin said the application that is now available to students is quite similar to the one used by non-sport campus organizations. He said those wishing to establish sporting organizations will be held to similar standards throughout the year. 

“Every semester, recognized clubs go through reactivation, so they have to talk about the mission, and how their mission correlates with the school,” Martin said. “We would continue that work.”

Martin said he and Nicol looked at similar programs at other institutions before determining how to proceed. The application asks students to address their plans for finances and facility use up front.

“We have limited resources, and we know that,” Martin said. “But there’s no reason for a club not to come and tell us what they need.” 

Hopeful leaders will have the chance to do just that, with the necessary paperwork due to Martin’s office by Feb. 15. By the beginning of March, the body governed by Kula will assemble to pass their judgment ahead of the 2016-2017 school year. 

Nicol said if any groups are recognized, her department will work to find time for their practices and other events, while still ensuring the existing Division III teams are given first choice.

“The priority would be the intercollegiate athletic program,” Nicol said. “Whenever we can accommodate a club sport, we will.”

Those considering a run at recognition would find an experienced ear in fitness center assistant general manager Chris McComb. McComb played club rugby during her four years at Springfield College in Massachusetts, and said the entire process comes down to effort.

“It’s the commitment that the students are willing to put in,” McComb said. “The students determine the commitment level, and they determine the success by that.” 

McComb said club teams typically schedule games locally, but the advantage over intramural competition is the ability to play against rivals from other colleges, while still having a more relaxed yet engaging feel. 

“It’s much more beginner-friendly, so that also requires a certain amount of training and ability by the coach,” McComb said. 

Kula, who said she would cast the ultimate vote breaking any ties among her committee peers, envisions a welcoming setup being present in the plans of a successful applicant. 

“Club sports are great because it’s not a varsity sport, so it should try to include everyone as much as they can,” Kula said. “It’s just really making sure you can be as inclusive and diverse as possible.”

Martin said he hasn’t been approached yet with any completed proposals, but said everyone involved is still getting a feel for the situation in its first year. He highlighted one opportunity recognized club sports would have—the ability to recruit new members at the college’s organization fair. 

According to the application packet, ultimate determinations will be released prior to the conclusion of the spring semester.