Soccer is back

By Nader Ihmoud

The Columbia Renegades have added indoor and outdoor co-ed soccer teams to the list of sports available at Columbia.The teams were added during meetings held the week of Sept. 26 after several students volunteered for leadership positions, according to Kevin Hartmann, president of the Renegades.

“Soccer’s always been a sport that’s had a lot of interest at Columbia, but we’ve never had a student really step up to take on a leadership role,” Hartmann said. “We’ve always had great numbers with sign-up sheets, but we’ve never been able to make that first step to get someone who is energized and ready to do it.”

Originally, the soccer organization wanted to have four or five teams, but because of budgetary limitations and the infancy of the organization, they decided to have only two, according to Kartina Zemrak, general manager and coordinator of Columbia soccer.

Each team has two captains. Three of the four captains are freshmen and the fourth, Laura Boyd, is a new transfer student. The whole soccer organization is led by Zemrak, who is also a first-year student.

“I’ve noticed there are a lot of freshmen,” Zemrak said. “I think a lot more freshmen know about it than upperclassmen, but we’re still trying to get the word out.”

The organization was born when Zemrak expressed interest at the Renegades’ table during orientation. After seeing five or six pages of sign-up sheets of people who expressed interest in playing, she knew it was time to start a team.

“We set up a meeting, I talked to Kevin Hartmann and made a Facebook page,” Zemrak said. “Other people commented on it and said they wanted

to join.”

The outdoor team finalized its roster last week after tryouts were held on Sept. 25. Boyd said they kept 18 players of the over 20 players who came.

“I didn’t want to cut people, but unfortunately we had to,” Boyd said.

Although players were cut, Zemrak said they still hoped for a bigger response. Their first game was on Oct. 1 at the Lincoln Park south field against Forrest FC Chicago soccer club, according to Boyd.

The indoor soccer team has not held tryouts.Both teams will be competing in leagues set up by Sports Monster, an organization that creates recreational leagues for the Chicago Area. Lynn Polowy, a Columbia alumna who now works for Sports Monster, reached out to the soccer organization after she found it online.

“I had always wanted to get a soccer program started at Columbia, and now that I’m professionally running soccer leagues, I thought I’d reach back out to the school and see if I could help get the program running,” Polowy said.

In past years, the Renegades have struggled to put together a soccer program because of the lack of leadership, not a lack of interest, according to Hartmann. Polowy explained the program came to fruition this year because the soccer community is growing.

“More people are playing [soccer] in high school,” Polowy said. “Now that these first year students are coming fresh out of those clubs and varsity teams, they’re looking to keep playing in college.”