LOGOS STAFF WRITER
The University of the Incarnate Word is launching Club Sports, a competitive sports league for students in need of high-intensity competition one step above intramural sports.
“My main focus is to get Club Sports up and running,” said Club Sports Coordinator Francisco Hernandez, a graduate assistant who already was serving the Wellness Center and intramural program. “It’s an idea both me and Scott LeBlanc, assistant director of athletic training facilities at Incarnate Word, have had for a long time. We’ve seen how big our intramural sports program has grown over the past few years and we felt the next step was to add Club Sports.”
This fall is the first semester Incarnate Word is offering a club sports athletic program to students, featuring men’s and women’s soccer, basketball, tennis, water polo, and women’s volleyball.
Tennis and water polo will compete as independents while soccer, volleyball and basketball will compete as regular teams, Hernandez said.
“We’re a part of the South Texas Club Sports League which includes Palo Alto, Trinity and UTSA,” said Hernandez. “UTSA already has two club sports teams and Trinity has one that will compete against Incarnate Word during the regular season.
Hernandez said Club Sports is a program he decided to launch at UIW because many big universities offer it and it’s meant to bridge the gap between intramural sports and varsity athletics.
“Club Sports is for people who participate in intramural sports but want something a little more competitive,” he added. “I played club basketball in college and thought it would be a great program to have here at UIW,” he said.
Students who participate in Club Sports are getting a chance to participate in competitive athletics, wear Incarnate Word athletic uniforms, play in Alice McDermott Convocation Center and travel as a team to compete against other schools.
Texas club sports teams are classified as Region 4 under the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association along with New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas. The association provides Club Sports with its rules and regulations for the league.
“This year we are looking to go to Stillwater, Okla., to Oklahoma State University to compete in the regional tournament,” said Hernandez. “That would be great if we could make it all the way there.”
There are no tryouts for Club Sports. All students who sign up will automatically be placed on a team. A $125 fee is due at the end of September for any students who participate in the Club Sports league.
“The reason we have a fee is because we travel to Victoria College and Southwest Texas Junior College in Uvalde during our regular season, so a bulk of that fee is put towards travel costs and for purchasing new uniforms,” explained Hernandez.
“We don’t have a tryout for our club teams because we figure the bigger our teams are and the more students get involved, the more likely they are to stick around and play again next semester. We are looking to make this a big program.”
Three volunteer coaches have already signed up to be a part of the Club Sports program. Incarnate Word adjunct professor Ruben Calderon will be coaching women’s volleyball. Kevin Rubel, who handles game operations for UIW athletics, will be coaching men’s basketball. Phil Galloway, father of two UIW students and a football tailgate volunteer, volunteered to coach women’s basketball.
“The coaches we have so far are great and we’ve had a great response from the students,” Hernandez said. “We have about 20-30 girls signed up for volleyball and 12 each for men’s and women’s basketball. Next year we’re hoping to have enough people signed up to have multiple teams in every sport instead of just one. As of right now about 60 percent of our players are freshmen but we’re hoping to bring in more juniors and seniors to help us out.”
Galloway, one of the coaches, apparently already is having fun preparing for the season.
“I really enjoy coaching,” Galloway said. “I have 15-plus years experience with coaching and I had a little extra time on my hands, so when someone mentioned to me that UIW was starting a Club Sports league, I decided to volunteer. It’s something I’m really looking forward to and I hear it’s a lot more competitive.”
Practices began this week in the evenings at the Wellness Center and games begin mid-October through the first week of December.
“We want to begin practice and showcase our teams as soon as possible to give other students who haven’t heard about Club Sports an opportunity to see it and possibly join,” Hernandez said. “We are always looking to add more players and our final roster isn’t due until two weeks before our first game in October.”
For more information about Club Sports, e-mail Francisco Hernandez and Karen Boleska at firstname.lastname@example.org or check for information on the Club Sports facebook page at facebook.com/UIWclubsports.