Student-run club sports taking off at Berry

by Devon Powers, Campus Carrier Staff Writer

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Viking Crew team members celebrating after a win in the 5000 meter race late last semester. The crew travelled to Augusta, Ga. for this race. Since crew is a club sport at Berry they get some funding from Student Activites for their races and travels. Other club teams at Berry include Ultimate Frisbee and soccer. All teams travel around Georgia competing in games, races and tournaments.

Berry College has both a strong athletic department and high participation in intramural sports, but club sports on campus are on the rise. 

Berry’s club sports include Viking Crew, Ultimate Frisbee and soccer, all of which are overseen and slightly funded by Student Activities. However, club sports are often on their own when it comes to organizing their teams. Club soccer is unique in that there is a formal Berry College soccer team on campus through the Athletic Department, but Viking Crew and Ultimate Frisbee do not have corresponding varsity teams.

“(Club sports) fall under the student activities category,” Assistant Director of Student Activities Lydia Gordon said. “They are fully run and coordinated by students. We help oversee the primary responsibilities of organizations, but for the most part they do everything themselves.” 

The teams have to set up practices and coordinate competitions on their own. Berry provides limited assistance to club sports. It pays for boat insurance for the crew team, Frisbee tournament fees and some gas. Traveling expenses and transportation arrangements for boats fall primarily on the crew team. They get by with the small budget they receive from Student Activities, which does not cover a majority of their expenses. Frisbee team members pay for their uniforms, lodging during competitions and registration fees.

The crew team has not had a coach since the beginning of 2016. Since then, seniors Rachel Muehlfield and Sidney Elston have taken full responsibility as co-presidents to organize practices, regattas and transportation. The team has approximately 20 people and they all work to make sure regattas come together smoothly. 

“We work really closely together and while we are a big team, there are smaller teams within of people who row in a boat together,” Muelfield, co-president of the crew team, said. “Everyone steps up and helps with different tasks like repairing boats, making practice schedules, preparing for regattas, etc.”

However, despite the lack of a coach and money, the crew team continues to be competitive, often placing among top schools such as Clemson University, University of Georgia, Texas A&M, Alabama, Samford and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

While club sports are not the same as Berry athletic teams, they have practices several times a week and multiple competitions throughout their seasons. The crew team requires that everyone practice three times a week on the water and have one workout in the gym. The club Ultimate team practices three times a week for an hour and a half to two hours, completing drills and scrimmaging against one another.

The Ultimate team now has a volunteer coach, who plays professionally in Atlanta. The team has been small in the past, with only a few committed players. However, this year the team has grown to have 15 consistent players for tournaments.

The biggest struggle for the Frisbee team in particular is to find practice times that work for everyone. Since they are not an officially sanctioned sport, they get no special treatment when registering for classes and have to make it work as best as they can. 

Their practices pay off however, because they have performed well against teams from UGA, Georgia Tech and other large universities. They hope to become registered and be able to qualify for regional and national competitions in the future.

“Club sports really are the best of both worlds,” Ultimate team captain, senior, Weaver Ellard said.  “You get the relationships and competitions of a varsity sport with the fun and flexibility of intramural sports.”

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