Sport Clubs rise above challenges to bring pride to campus


Sacramento State men's rugby club captain and senior Nick Weeder motivates his teammates before a match. (Photo Courtesy of Sac State Sport Clubs)

Stephanie Beachley

Pride is a quality that derives from achievement, and the athletes of Sacramento State Sport Clubs exude plenty of it.

Consisting of 21 teams, Sport Clubs represent Sac State at both local and national levels. Each team is a student-run organization that functions in collaboration with the University’s Student Organizations and Leadership office.

In the past year alone, Sport Clubs have brought pride to Sac State by earning national rankings and even championships with teams such as men’s volleyball, women’s soccer and men’s rowing.

With all these achievements, it’s easy to wonder how members, such as senior and men’s rowing treasurer Taylor Grout, are able to be successful in both sports and academics without the resources that Hornet Athletics receives and provides.

“There is such a workload and stress that comes with being a student-athlete and a club officer,” Grout said. “For a Hornet athlete, if you’re doing bad in class your coach makes you go to a tutor that is provided to you. Whereas, we are very much on our own when it comes to things like that.”

Sport Club athletes are held to an academic standard just as any other student organization on campus. However, their academic resources are limited to the services that have to accommodate over 30,000 other students at Sac State.

Another hardship that Sport Clubs deal with is the lack of priority registration. NCAA-sanctioned athletes are provided with registration dates earlier than other students so that athletes are able to form their schedules around practices, competitions and achieve the coveted four-year graduation scenario.

“Priority registration is definitely a big thing,” men’s rugby captain and senior Nick Weeder said. “Especially when our practices are scheduled during times when most major classes are offered. You end up having to ask yourself ‘okay, do I want to play rugby or do I want to graduate and move on?’”

Many teams have tried to petition in the past to receive priority registration, but none have been successful. The university, however, has worked to provide more resources to take care of club athletes.

“Priority registration would be nice,” men’s volleyball outside hitter and senior John Fluette said. “Over the years though we’ve been getting more and more access to athletic trainers and treatments after matches, which is really good for the future of club sports.”

Sacramento State women’s soccer club founder Alejandra Aguilar prepares to pass the ball to a teammate. (Photo by Jaclyn Pulatie/Sac State Sport Clubs)

Although athletes are receiving more help with recovery and injury-prevention, Sport Clubs also function with limited access to training facilities. The majority of teams that require a field, currently share what are known as the intramural fields behind Yosemite Hall.

“If we were a sanctioned NCAA team, I feel like there would definitely be some benefits,” women’s soccer club founder Alejandra Aguilar said in an email interview. “We would value, for example, having access to the Hornet Athletics soccer field which is in way better condition than the field we play on.”

Funding is another issue that teams face as SOAL provides small amounts of funding to each team to help cover some expenses, but members still must pay dues out of pocket and fundraise for equipment and travel expenses.

“Sport Clubs helps a lot with funding,” Grout said. “They pay for our entry fees which is great, but it’s hard for us to be independent because we share all of our equipment with other teams at the Aquatic Center. Unless we do our own fundraising, we’re very dependent on Sport Clubs and the Aquatic Center to keep our program successful.”

However, it seems to be a natural consensus that the responsibilities of having to provide for your own club are more a blessing than a curse.

“Running or being a part of team demands a person to be organized,” Aguilar said. “Being a part of Sport Clubs has helped me grow as a person, leader, and team player. All have been essential skills that will be valuable outside of college, something I wouldn’t have learned being a part of an NCAA team.”

While most of the athletes are happy without the resources they could be receiving as NCAA competitors, one form of support that it seems could be improved is recognition by the university outside of the SOAL office.  

“It’s really nice to see ourselves in all the stuff that Sport Clubs does,” Grout said. “Pictures of athletes or us with our medals to show our school that we’re winning, if not medaling. You can see how happy we all are. It’s a morale booster especially between competitions that makes us want to keep training.”

With all the challenges faced as part of student-run organizations, Sport Club athletes are able to bring a number of local and national merits to Sac State. Most important, they are able to bring pride to the school that they love.

“I have been so proud to be part of the Sport Clubs program,” Aguilar said. “I’d recommend it to everyone because it will definitely enhance your college experience.”