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    September 28, 2006
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Sweat, leadership, fun define
Temple club sports program

Ian Stewart had everything he needed: four friends with a shared interest, the ideal sparring facility and a preliminary constitution. Now, all he had to do was complete the last step — convince Campus Recreation that what an urban campus like Temple needs is a jujitsu club.

Stewart succeeded.

This fall, Stewart will have the opportunity to introduce jujitsu, and two other students will offer women’s field hockey and lacrosse, as new ways for students to spend their time outside the classroom.

The popularity of Temple’s club sports program is already evident when you look at the numbers: More than 400 students participate in 18 different clubs.

Yet those figures don’t tell the whole story of the program. The students themselves assume control of and responsibility for each club, creating unique organizational identities that evolve over time as new members come and go.

“Temple sport clubs are student-run, student-initiated, with an emphasis placed on participation and interest in the same activity,” said Linda Buonanno, associate director for Campus Recreation. “The administrative and leadership skills that are developed in the sport club program are transferable into other areas of their lives.”

On a campus like Temple’s, there’s almost no limit to the offerings — everything from cricket to ice hockey — which allows just about any student to find a niche. 

“There is such a vast array of students [at Temple] who come from different areas and backgrounds,” sport club coordinator Jordin Schaffner said. “These students bring with them a shared passion for their favorite sport activities, which leads to a very diverse sport club program.”

The equestrian club provides an example of how the program strives to meet multiple interests: It is divided into two skill levels, allowing students to join as either competitive or non-competitive participants, based on their ability and interest.

Campus Recreation, a department within the Division of Student Affairs, is the coordinating office for recreational sports programs at Main Campus — including sport clubs, intramurals, informal recreation, special events and programs, group fitness, adapted recreation, aquatics and student staff development.

Sport clubs differ from intramurals in that intramurals consists of internal sport competitions between Temple students, while sport clubs are extramural sport competitions against other universities and colleges.

Buonanno and Schaffner work with club leaders on arranging practice times and organizing events. “Coaches are not required within the sport club program. If they choose to have a coach, the students must recruit and approve the individual,” Buonanno said. “The final approval for volunteer club coaches lies with the Department of Campus Recreation.”

But because the program is largely driven by the students themselves, Schaffner said, “It’s an excellent opportunity for them to claim leadership roles.”

“The success of each club resides primarily in the hands of the students,” Buonanno added. “The harder they work to recruit new members and develop their returning participants, the more successful the club will be, both on and off the field.”

And while students can take club sports in any direction they wish, sometimes sport clubs take students places, as well.

The fencing club went to South Carolina last season to compete in the United States Association Collegiate Fencing Club National Championships hosted by Clemson University, and the taekwondo club, a member of the Ivy Northeast Collegiate Taekwondo League, traveled to schools such as Harvard, Yale and Cornell.

The sport club program receives funds from the University General Activity Fund, as well as from the students, who contribute through dues and fund-raising efforts.

And while specific clubs take on a unique identity and structure as dictated by the interests of those involved, there does seem to be a common denominator unifying all clubs — the students’ dedication and energy. 

“It’s a motivating factor for a lot of students,” Schaffner said. “It’s what gets some people up in the morning and what can help get them through the academic realm.”

 

By Karen Shuey

Related story: Brothers unite to advance Temple rugby

 

 


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