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ISSUE 117 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 4/9/2004

The Messenger goes Clubbing

By Ken Foote
Executive Editor

Friday, April 9, 2004

Varsity athletes are not the only ones putting in long hours and logging hundreds of miles in search of competition. The men and women of St. Olaf club sports have done just that in building established teams with dedicated and skilled players.

St. Olaf now boasts mens and women's rugby, men's and women's ultimate frisbee and a men's lacrosse team.

Playing sports that are not recognized by the College as a varsity sport can be difficult at times, but their love of their sports keeps the athletes working hard at practice and giving their all in games.

"Funding is always an issue with club sports as is transportation and lodging but we make it work," said lacrosse goaltender Lance Kuehn '05. "But, at the same time, I could not imagine my life without lacrosse."

Lacrosse, which competes in the Upper Midwest Lacrosse League (UMLL), has a roster of over 20 players and competes in about 15 games annually. The team hit the road over spring break, using a convoy of both college owned vans and individual team members' car, and played three games in Decorah, Iowa. The squad left Iowa winless and beat up, but still in high spirits.

"We played very well considering we had a curtailed roster," Kuehn said. "It is difficult to play with only 13 guys, but such is the life of club sports."

The team rebounded from the brutal trip with a thorough dismantling of Marquette in a home game on April 4.

"It is good to get that first win out of the way," captain Dave Strand '05 said. "Hopefully we can get some momentum going and be ready for the conference tournament."

The UMLL tournament awards an automatic bid to the Club Lacrosse National Championships. In addition, the winner's name is etched on a hallowed trophy a la the Stanley Cup.

While lacrosse is considered the oldest game in North America, having been played by Native American for over 2,000 years, and "the fastest game on two feet," ultimate takes a leisurely pastime and transforms it into a fast-paced, exciting contest.

The St. Olaf men's and women's ultimate teams traveled to Georgia, roughly 1,000 miles away, to compete in the High Tide tournament.

After considerable bonding time on the way down, the women's team, named Durga, was ready to take on the opposition. Durga dashed the hopes of many talented teams, dominating the field and winning the tournament as well as assuring that the trip back to the Hill would be a pleasant one.

Not wanting to be outdone, the men strung together a solid series of games and claimed second place in the same tourney.

"It was nice to get a run together and beat some good teams," Brian Larson '06 said. "We have struggled with consistency this year, but playing a lot of games over the break has helped that."

The ultimate teams continued their busy schedule even after classes resumed. In addition to practicing three days a week, the teams went to Kansas for the Fools Fest over April Fools weekend.

Neither team came home from the Jayhawk state with a title, but both returned with more game experience and improved team chemistry.

"It is just crucial to play together as much as possible," Larson said. "We will continue to get better if we keep playing quality opponents."

The ultimate frisbee teams may be the most prosperous of the St. Olaf club sports, but the rugby squads are the greenest. Well, kind of.

Rugby was played on the Hill in decades past before a tragic car accident on the way to New Orleans for a tournament took the life of a male player leading the College to ban the sport.

Rugby was reinstated by the administration in 2001 and began play in the spring of 2002.

The men have had difficulty keeping the teams numbers high and have recently gone to a seven-on-seven format instead of the traditional 15 man teams.

The women, however, are playing full roster games, although that roster is very young. Most of the players started just this year. That inexperience did not show, however, in a 3-3 tie to Carleton.

A tie may not seem impressive, but in this case it was a monumental achievement. Carleton's team competes at the division II level and boasts a deep roster with many experienced players.

The game marked the first time the women have not lost to the Carls.

"It was very exciting," fullback and game MVP Liz Kelley '06 said. "As a new player, I am amazed how quickly we have come together. This is a big game for our program as a whole and I hope it leads to more positive occurrences down the road."

These three club sports prove you do not have to suit up for a "traditional" sport to represent the Oles in athletic competition and have fun doing it.

"I take pride in representing St. Olaf," Kuehn said. "Even though we are not recognized as a varsity sport we still wear the name while playing the sport we love."

So, in the end, club and varsity sports are far more alike than they are different. Some of the best played game on campus take place on open fields with everything from dense rubber balls to flying plastic discs, not necessarily in Skoglund or Manitou with pigskin and cowhide.

In the future, when looking for some competition, try going clubbing

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