Club sports full of action

I have to confess, I’ve never been an athlete, but I’ve always enjoyed going to sporting events — especially at the collegiate level. The fact that people are able to balance being a student and being an athlete constantly amazes me.

Yet there is a class of athlete at IU often overlooked in terms of its dedication and commitment. While it is one thing to watch Dane Fife and the rest of the Hoosiers tear up the basketball court in front of 17,000 fans, it is a far different story out at “The Frank” down by Bloomington South High School.

Each time the IU club hockey team plays a home game, attendance will never reach 17,000; it will never even reach 1,000, because the Frank Southern Ice Arena only holds 700 fans.

Participants in club sports are a far different breed of athlete from those intercollegiate athletes who perform at Assembly Hall or Memorial Stadium. Unlike intercollegiate athletes, club sport athletes don’t have the support network that members of the basketball, football or golf teams have.

Athletes of intercollegiate teams get academic counseling, funding and support from the IU administration. Athletes for club sports get little. Club hockey, for example, gets about $6,000 from Recreational Sports; a small percentage of the $50,000 it needs to run its sport each year.

Team members also have other grueling conditions to work under: antifreeze, for example.

Saturday night, about 7 minutes into the game against Michigan State, a pipe broke off of the ceiling and antifreeze poured onto the ice. Naturally, antifreeze and ice are a terrific combination if you’re talking about your car, but if you are trying to play a hockey game, troubled waters are ahead.

The game was delayed long enough that my friend and I went to Blockbuster and rented a movie instead, but not before we got into the hockey experience. It was disappointing to have an hour-long interruption in the game. Much of the crowd dispersed at the same time, wandering out the door and into the parking lot of the Frank Southern Center.

The athletes stayed behind to play the game.

Of course, this flood of antifreeze is another strong argument for the replacement of Frank Southern Center, an option that has been proposed for awhile, and had another delay, as announced in The Herald Times Feb. 5.

Bloomington announced in October it was going to build a new arena on the west side of town, off of State Road 37. It was supposed to open next fall, but because unexpectedly high infrastructure costs it has been postponed. The cost of building a road to the new facility could cost $1 million; accordingly, officials are trying to find alternatives, perhaps even a different site for the arena.

The goal is to open the new arena by September 2001.

In spite of all this, IU hockey has done well this year. The team is fourth in the Southeast American Collegiate Hockey Association rankings and is preparing to play host to the ACHA national championships at the beginning of March in Indianapolis.

IU has a number of club sport teams, for example; lacrosse, Water Polo and Jujitsu. All the players have to overcome a number of barriers to play and to be students at the same time.

Supporting these athletes is worth the time and effort. They appreciate fan attendance.

Check ’em out. Maybe even get involved, if you’re so inclined.

, ,

Comments are closed.