Renegades create new game plan for upcoming year

By JeffGraveline

Using a new model of doing business and a more focused approach, the Columbia Renegades are ready to create change in the way Columbia and its students view sports. Fitness, Athletics and Recreation, the Columbia office that houses the Renegades, spearheaded efforts on and around campus this summer to get students involved in competitive athletics while representing Columbia.

“I think this year is the deciding factor because everything is getting changed around,” marketing communications junior and new Renegades president Erienne Byers, 21,  said. “I think this year will be a good year to show that we [Renegade athletics] are an important part of the school.”

Byers succeeded Joshua Haskins as president of the Renegades. Byers’ work with the Renegades over the past two years has allowed for a smooth transition into her new role, even if there have been some missed connections with former president Haskins.

“Josh and I never really got to sit down and go over things, but anytime I’ve called him and had a question, he’s been there to help,” Byers said.  “Which has been all right, it’s been kind of a learn-as-I go concept because it’s a brand new thing this year, so it’s not really a bad thing.”

This year, the reorganized Renegades are fielding three teams: basketball, lacrosse and baseball, with the possibility of more to come as the school year progresses. The organization is also attempting to start a volleyball team this year.

“We have somebody for volleyball who is coming in and tried to get it started last spring, but interest just fell out,” Byers said. “They’ve been coming to me and I’ve been working with them to get tryouts set up, get gym time and some city leagues for them to compete in.”

The Renegades held open tryouts for the baseball team Sept. 12 – 13 at Sedgwick Field in La Grange, 536 East Ave., for the 2009-2010 season.

The team will play in several tournaments during the fall semester and hold its regular season in the spring.

“Baseball, typically their season is in the spring, but they use a shortened tournament season in the fall to evaluate talent,” said Mark Brticevich, coordinator of Fitness Athletics and Recreation at Columbia. “They’ll have tryouts during the first few weeks of school and instead of just looking at the person in a batting cage, they actually set up the short season in the fall to see what the person can do in a game situation.”

Dan Gallagher, a marketing major at Columbia and head coach of the baseball team, hopes the new team can turn a corner this year.

“I wouldn’t want to post our record from last year, it was not very good,” Gallagher said. “We’re going to have a new mentality this year, we’ve had a couple of forgettable years and we want to step it up a notch.”

As the baseball team readies for the fall  and the rest of the Renegades teams prep for their respective seasons, there is hope for competitive athletics at Columbia.

Brticevich, Byers and other workers from Student Engagement have changed the system student athletics operated in before, according to Byers.

“We’ve been fighting in the past, I don’t know how else to explain it,” Byers said. “I think they’ve [Columbia officials] finally been like, ‘This is something we need.’”

Following last year when the Renegades tried to cover all competitive sports, intramurals and fundraising, the organization has streamlined its operation.

The Renegades are now focused squarely on competitive athletics. This will allow students to apply for recognition from the college and the Renegades to start a new team. The recognition packet allows students to apply funding from the school, but the team must be organized before


“[The team] would have to have a roster, intent to compete, so they’d have to have a schedule.” Byers said.  From there on, we can help compensate them. We can’t give them 100 percent. It depends on how much effort as a board we see. We vote and see how much money they’re asking for and whether or not they’re putting back [into the team].”

After past years, when the Renegades tried to do too much with too little, the organization and its members welcome the changes made this year.

“We were spread way too thin [last year],” Byers said. “Josh did an excellent job, but we just had to put things up because it wasn’t  working.”