September 7, 2005

Club Sports Athletes Seek to Unite Under New Group

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They wear Cornell uniforms, win regional titles, and compete for national championships on a regular basis. They represent 27 teams – but they’re constantly scrambling for funding and practice time, let alone the resources to travel to away games.

They are the members of all the club sports teams at Cornell, and in order to pool their resources and help each other continue to compete at a high level, they have come together to form the Club Sports Council, one of the newest student organizations on East Hill.

“Cornell club sports are highly successful in the leagues that they play in. We do very well, we field excellent teams, we have a lot of excellent talent to pull from,” said president Cara Santillo. “But we are representing Cornell, and a lot of the times, a lot of the teams feel disenfranchised – they don’t feel like they’re being supported. And it’s not really the fault of the [Student Activities Office] – it’s not anybody’s fault. It’s that it’s very decentralized, and it’s the fault of the system. If we can improve upon the system, it will benefit everybody.”

The main objectives of the new body are to develop a website to provide easy access to member organizations for help with Student Assembly Finance Commission paperwork and funding procedures, implement programs to help teams develop fitness and skills, and act as a liaison to the administration.

A pressing issue for the council is also to change the definition of a club sport at Cornell. As of now, 20 percent of the SAFC budget is allocated to club sports – a broad definition that includes mainly educational and recreational groups like the bowling and boxing clubs. The council hopes to change the requirements for a club sport to stipulate that the groups practice regularly and represent Cornell in intercollegiate competition. For now, there are 20 member teams, and the council is continuing to recruit new groups to its ranks.

“Currently what we’re trying to do is increase the resources and put it out there, so that people can choose to use it if they can,” Santillo said. “Every sport – it’s their own destiny what they want to do with these things. None of these things would ever be forced on anybody, but the resources would be there. With the enthusiasm that I’ve gotten so far with all the club sports that I’ve talked to … the influence is going to be positive. We are an organization that exists to benefit our members.”

The council hopes to become representative of the myriad programs that wear the carnelian and white. This roster of teams includes women’s soccer – which has competed in national tournaments in California, Alabama, and Louisiana – women’s water polo, which won the New York State Division championship tournament in 2005 and competed in the 16-team national championship field at Texas A&M – and men’s hockey – which also claims New York state championships in its history.

Santillo and the members of the executive board began to build the council last spring, basing a constitution on similar organizations at Duke, MIT, Michigan, and other universities with extensive club programs.

Santillo, who is a member of the women’s rugby football team, hopes to develop a means to provide these Cornell programs with the tools to build even more success in the future.

“One of the most demoralizing things, I think, when we go to these rugby tournaments and we’re the biggest school … we show up in our mom’s used minivan, trying to figure out a way to get home so we don’t have to spend the night there [so that we can] save on hotel rooms. We have the oldest uniforms, we’re sharing other [team’s] balls,” she said. “We should be the team. And when we play – when we step out on the field, we’re equal or better than every team we play. We should be the team with resources that equal our playing ability.”

Archived article by Olivia Dwyer
Sun Assistant Sports Editor