No charter bus for Renegades this season

By Etheria Modacure

This season, the Columbia Renegades basketball team looked to snap their losing streak with better play and discipline. Before the season began, tryouts were rained out for the Renegades because they were held at an outdoor basketball court.

Toward the end of the season, the team had to forfeit its final two games because of transportation problems. One of the vehicles assistant coach Bruce Kolman rented broke down.

Columbia doesn’t provide transportation for any club teams, and renting buses or vans can be expensive for the Renegades. Most of the teams carpool to their games, while their opponents enjoy the luxury of a bus.

“It’s really hard for the teams to have games if there’s no way for them to get to games,” said Kevin Hartmann, vice president of the Renegades. “Columbia doesn’t have any sort of van or anything we

could rent.”

Hartmann said renting vehicles from other sources like a bus or car company isn’t an option because of the Renegades’ limited budget. He expressed that because Columbia doesn’t have an athletic facility, every Renegades game has to be played away.

The Renegades use South Loop Elementary School, 1212 N. Dearborn St., for all of their team practices excluding baseball. Each team has an hour to practice and if the school needs to use the gym for an event, the Renegades have no other place to go.

Columbia doesn’t support the Renegades heavily, and the team has to raise money on its own through fundraising, Hartmann said. This can be a daunting task for newcomers looking to join a team, according to Hartmann.

“We can only give them about a quarter of what they need for each sport,” he said. “We’ll pay league fees or we’ll pay for new jerseys, but [they] have to pay for referees for  games or the facilities [they] need because as an organization, we don’t have the money to give each team.”

With the excruciating tasks each team have to get to a game, practice as a team and raise money, Kolman said he enjoys coaching the basketball team, regardless if he has to pay for gas out of his pocket.

He said it would be nice if the college could add a facility for each team to practice adequately. He noted it would help the Renegades if Columbia provided better transportation.

“Our attitude is we have an opportunity to play college basketball, and we’re giving that to our players,” Kolman said.“They enjoy it, and it’s the whole nine yards. If we can stay close to some of these teams, we feel good about it.”

Kolman said he can’t afford to rent 12-passenger vans every weekend. He said it wouldn’t take much out of Columbia’s budget to find adequate transportation and practice time at a better facility.

“[Columbia is] completely mistaken if they don’t think there’s a good part of the population that cares about sports,” Kolman said. “We’ve got kids [with] various abilities, and they just want to play the game. It’s really too bad that the school turns a cold shoulder toward that.”

The Renegades baseball team, which is associated with the National Club Baseball Association, recently found a new field to play games at, Bedford Park. Mackinley Salk, senior radio major and the team captain signed the team up to play games in the park.

The baseball team carpools to games, which can sometimes be in Indiana and play weekend series against other schools’ club teams. Salk said his brother, who plays high school hockey, traveled in a charter bus to one of his teams’ games, which didn’t leave a good feeling in his stomach.

Salk said carpooling is fun for team chemistry and bonding, but it becomes a hassle when having to pay for their gas and fundraising.

“The school does meet us halfway with a lot of certain things, but it would be nice to show up with a bus like a lot teams we play do,” he said.

Salk said Columbia should make sports more of a priority because the culture is changing more incoming students are attracted to it. He said the stigma of students not liking sports is slowly decreasing with increased awareness about the Renegades.

“If Columbia wants to bring in this better student body, I would suggest they start helping out there sports programs,” Salk said. “What you’re doing, which is against Columbia’s motto, is excluding students. It was their whole thing during my freshman orientation to not exclude any students, now they’re doing it.”