Lack of Space Sparks Unrest Among Club Athletes
Kyle Florence
kflor654@uwsp.edu

While the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point continues to validate its reputation as a Division III powerhouse, the increased focus on our universities National Collegiate Athletic Association-certified athlet­ics has some students crying foul. More often than not, they say, NCAA sports are given precedence over intramurals and club sports in prac­tice times and the use of on-campus facilities.

Ed Richmond, Head of Campus Activities and Recreation, explained that this method of distribution has been standard for some time.

“There is a priority of use that was adopted a number of years ago that listed academics as priority of use in the buildings, then athletics, then intramurals and club sports, so that’s sort of the pecking order,” said Richmond.

To some however, this reasoning is insufficient. Brian Schmidt, a senior and head of the UWSP Men’s Soccer Club, is unhappy with the way space is utilized among the university’s club sports, NCAA-certified sports and intramurals.

“My main grievance is our lack of gym time and space,” Schmidt said. “We are often pushed in to the early morning hours, sometimes as early as 1 or 2 A.M., and this practice schedule can make it very difficult to stay on top of things academically.”

Similarly, Schmidt believes that the Men’s Soccer Club, as well as many other club sports, would great­ly benefit if NCAA-certified athletics were not given pre­cedence to use on-campus facilities.

“If more gym times were avail­able during the week, instead of athletics always getting it Monday through Friday, we would be able to hold practices at more reasonable times and in turn be more effective as a club and probably have more new members joining,” said Schmidt.

Richmond recognizes these flaws, attributing them to a lack of space.

“Over the years, we’ve worked in that priority-of-use order, and we’ve had to follow that, so what we’ve tried to do is maximize the space as much as possible,” said Richmond. “The big thing is our programs have been growing, so now we’re at the point where our facilities are no lon­ger efficient enough.”

According to Richmond, UWSP is currently exploring several options to alleviate such conflicts in the future, one being the possible addition of a new health and wellness facility.

“A study was completed in October 2011, and what that study showed is that we have a lack of recreation and fitness space, and if we want to move forward, we may have to possibly build another area to make up for that lost space,” said Richmond.

Though this issue is pressing to some, others believe that the current system is functioning fine.

Mitch Klapper, a senior linebacker for the UWSP football team, believes that NCCA-certified sports should take precedence over club sports but acknowledges that club sports are still very relevant to the university.

“I feel that NCAA athletics should take precedence over club sports when it comes to practice, scheduling and event planning because they are varsity sports,” Klapper said. “Other than that, club sports are a great thing and very competitive at the division III level.”

Kim Jobke, a forward for the UWSP Women’s soccer team, shares a similar outlook.

“I think club sports should be treated just as well as NCAA-certified sports because it is still a commitment, and they are still affiliated with the school, but the fact of the matter is that at times one may have to take precedence over the other,” said Jobke. “Our NCAA-certified sports are what bring money into the school and why a lot of students come to Point. Plus, there are stricter conditions and regu­lations around these sports. I think it goes both ways, and the school should try to figure out a way to make each as fair as possible within reason.”

Richmond agrees.

“In these types of situations, stu­dents are always the first priority. If you want to have an athletic pro­gram, then you have to have the space to support that program,” said Richmond.