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Club sports teams struggle with funding

ultimate frisbee

Club sports at St. Olaf are a great way for students to play sports at a competitive level without the time commitment of varsity sports. These teams offer opportunities for students to continue sports they played previously and also allow students to try sports they’ve never played before.

According to the St. Olaf’s Club Sports manual, “The Club Sports programs are designed to provide opportunities for students to participate in a variety of sports and recreational activities that are not a part of the program of NCAA intercollegiate sports administered by the St. Olaf Athletics Department.”

St. Olaf students have organized, recruited and fundraised for a variety of different clubs. Currently, the active club teams include: the St. Olaf dance team, men’s club hockey, men’s volleyball, ballroom performance, cycling, and both men’s and women’s rugby, lacrosse and ultimate frisbee teams.

“This club team is exactly like any other team I’ve been on, so that’s been really cool,” Austin Brown ’19, captain of the Men’s Ultimate Club, said. “There were times where I wanted to play a varsity sport, but I haven’t simply because of the connections I’ve made with my teammates.”

St. Olaf club sports also offer a much more manageable schedule compared to the everyday grind that comes with Division III athletics.

“It definitely is not as intense as a varsity sport. Our rugby teampractices about three times a week, along with many of other teams, and [we] have our games on Saturdays,” Monique Rondeau ’20 of the Women’s Rugby team said. “Our season is not as long either, which is super nice, allowing other time for other extracurriculars.”

But oftentimes, club sports don’t receive adequate funds to reserve gym or field space, or travel and participate in tournaments around the country. These teams usually have to charge dues to their players to pay for the accrued expenses. 

“While the commitment is lower, not many people understand how many hours are spent fundraising,” Rein Ripperger ’19, president of the men’s club volleyball team said.

Even with this fundraising, players are expected to pay dues to the club. Ripperger also spoke about the time he spends managing team finances, organizing fundraising events and performing clerical work like booking hotel rooms.

“It is tough knowing some opposing teams in our conference have their budget nearly fully funded by their school,” he said.

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