Club sports relocated, more commitment needed

By Kyle Rich

Club sports at Columbia have taken a hit with the loss of the only available indoor practice space, the gym at the South Loop Elementary School, 1212 S. Plymouth Court. After the dual lease with Roosevelt University that allowed the gym to be shared expired at the beginning of the semester, the two colleges have parted ways. As Columbia looks for a new gym, commitment is now a factor, along with money.

The challenges and responsibilities of operating club sports at Columbia often fall on students, according to Mark Brticevich, coordinator of Fitness and Recreation. The Renegades receive some marketing and leadership assistance, but funds taken from the Student Athletic Association budget are disbursed based on commitment level, he said.

“There’s always money in the pot,” Brticevich said. “But are [students] serious about their sports? Do they practice? Do they condition? Do they show up to meetings and events? It’s all up to

the students.”

However, some students feel the administration does not offer enough help.

“I think there’s no communication [between] the administration and the Renegades,” said Brian Byrd, freshman music major and captain this year.

Joseph Phillips, head coach of the men’s basketball team and Columbia alumnus plans on bumping up the participation factor for his team, which will hopefully lead to an increase in funding. In his three years of coaching, he’s seen a lack of commitment to practicing and attending games. Starters weren’t necessarily picked by skill level, but by level of

game participation.

Phillips found that as the middle of the season approached, players would drop out for various reasons. But this season they are striving to become a more organized and structured team.

“This year, we are holding [players accountable] because if you sign up this year, you are going to be committed to do the actual program,” Phillips said. “Once you sign up with us and give us your word, we follow up with your teachers, your professors, all of that. It’s going to be a checks and balances system this year.”

In the meantime, the basketball team and others still do not have practice space.

“I want to branch off from Roosevelt completely,” Byrd said. “I don’t want to have to depend on another school to have space.”

Byrd has taken matters into his own hands by talking with South Loop gyms such as XSport and LA Fitness; however, there have

been some challenges.

“XSport has a basketball court but they want to charge students $30 a month and most of our students can’t afford [that],” Brticevich said. “Columbia would like to continue our relationship with Roosevelt. We’re looking at their field house for intramurals and open play.”

The Lillian and Larry Goodman Center is being built on the corner of Congress Parkway and Wabash Avenue and is slated to open in early December for use by Roosevelt students in the 2012-2013 school year, as previously reported by The Chronicle in March 2012.

“In the past, Columbia had a revenue source from us from renting the fitness center in which they parlayed that money to use to rent gym space at South Loop Elementary,” said Roosevelt Athletic Director Michael Cassidy. “We were paying for Columbia and Roosevelt to use the gym while getting to use Plymouth Court [fitness center] for free, so essentially we were paying twice.”

Meanwhile, basketball, volleyball, soccer and ultimate Frisbee have made do with outdoor tryouts and practices. The premier location of Columbia’s campus has provided the Renegades with multiple outdoor practice spaces until weather conditions become too fierce.

“In the meantime, we’re very lucky [to be] in the South Loop and [to have] access to all these nice parks,” said Abby Cress, Renegades President.