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up along with the men's soccer pro- SHARING MORE THAN A
gram a decade ago, and women's SPORT
water polo got the nod instead.
Since then, the club has chosen The University's high-achieving
to remain at the club level because club sports are adept at claiming
of the demanding club varsity resources for themselves where
requirements. they can find them.
Increasing the required amount While there isn't a varsity equiv-
of practice hours from 10 to 20 alent of club sports like roller hock-
would likely place strain on team ey or table tennis, there are plenty
members' academic lives, too - not in more mainstream sports. Name
to mention their wallets with dou- a varsity sport, and it's almost
ble the ice costs. guaranteed that a sister team exists
"It's honestly a lot of work," said on the club level.
Rachel Reuter, the women's club Varsity programs help club
hockey president. "It's something teams survive and improve by shar-
we'd definitely like to see in the ing facilities and equipment - two
future, but there are other impedi- of the most expensive factors for all
ments in the way with the varsity club sports.
boys and Yost (Ice Arena) being The men's rowing club team
such a small rink - it would be hard has access to the women's varsity
to get the ice time that we'd need to team's indoor rowing machines
become a varsity sport anyway." to train in the winter. Club sports
But the women's team wouldn't men's water polo and women's
mind some of the tangible benefits synchronized swimming practice
it'd receive by gaining club varsity in Canham Natatorium, home to
or varsity status. Reuter would love the varsity swimming and diving
to see the women's team use the teams and women's varsity water
well-equipped weight room on the polo. The varsity baseball team
second floor of Yost and get its own allows its club equivalent to use
locker room - hockey skates and Ray Fisher Stadium for tryouts.
pads don't belong in dorm closets. Jendryka attributes the sharing
atmosphere in part to the fact that
Spending hours practicing with no hope ofta University scholarship, club athletes play only for the love of the game.
some athletic department employ-
ees in charge of facilities came from
the Rec Sports department, so they
understand how helpful access to
top-notch facilities can be for club
or even intramural athletes.
But the exchange between.var-
sity and club sports doesn't stop at
equipment - there are sometimes
player tradeoffs, too.
"I wouldn't say it's common, but
it's certainly not uncommon," Jen-
dryka said. "We've had a fair num-
ber of varsity athletes drop down
just because they don't have the
time to dedicate. They can't do that
many hours outside the classroom,
the travel, the expectations."
And it also works the other way.
Jendryka said she has received
phone calls and rushed c-mails
from club presidents who have
to send her new contact informa-
tion for their teams because some
their players have made the varsity
One of the best examples of the
club-to-varsity bond is the men's
soccer program. Each season,
Burns, the men's varsity coach,
attends club tryouts to scout out
the talent level on campus. Often,
he'll invite a player or two to try out
for varsity, and he will sometimes
have some of the top club athletes
train with the varsity squad all
winter in preparation for preseason
tryouts. The club and varsity teams
also square off every spring in an
exhibition game, giving Burns yet
another chance to recruit.
But the relationship between
varsity and club teams in the same,
sport isn't always smooth. For the
women's club hockey team, it's a
challenge to earn respect while
playing in the same arena as the
men's varsity hockey team. Part of
the problem could be that men's
coach Red Berenson has never been
a vocal proponent of the women's
"I don't get a sense that there's
any active engagement, and I don't
get a sense that there's any active
disapproval," said Susan McDow-
ell, long-time staff advisor for the
women's club team. "I don't think
we matter, and I don't mean that
meanly. I just think his primary
focus is on the success of his men's
varsity program. ... It's not the
world's most perfect situation, but
I think that's where it is."
THE PAYOFF OF CLUB
Along the way, though, some-
thing happens to a team as it bat-
tles for respect on the field and in
the Michigan Athletic Department:
teammates bond, leaders emerge
and individuals learn to reap the
most from a difficult system.
Paruk, the women's Ultimate
Frisbee captain, described the chal-
lenge of scheduling classes around
practice during the school year and
planningvacations around summer
tournaments. But her eyes lit up
most as she spoke of the relation-
ships she has formed with other
players on the team.
Players from each competitive
club team, from women's hockey to
men's rowing, spoke of the close-
knit ties between members of their
programs. From fundraising to
recruiting, the added obstacles club
teams face give them an "us against
the world" mentality.
"I think some of those struggles
make the successes even sweeter,"
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