Varsity athletics are not the only programs getting attention. At MSUM, athletes are made up of more than those who receive scholarships or recruitments.
Kari Peterson, MSUM intramural and club sports director, continues to make substantial advancements for the program during her second year here, including bringing club team sports back to Moorhead grounds.
“We wanted to give them, with the M State field, a place of their own,” Peterson said. “A place to call their own so they feel a little bit more ownership, they feel valued by the university, and they have a place where they can practice whenever they want.”
Both men’s and women’s rugby and lacrosse club sports teams use the M State field. The men’s club soccer team, a dedicated group of leaders who pursued a field of their own to use, also play at M State.
“Our soccer team was a huge push for trying to get space, because they either were renting spaces off campus or trying to find parks that were open,” Peterson said. “And they’d get bumped the day of or the day before. It was really frustrating for them.”
MSUM club teams felt a disconnect from fans and acknowlegment, because rather than playing on their turf, they were forced to play in Fargo.
Before M State was available for games, the men’s soccer team had to play games at Johnson soccer complex in Fargo.
Brandi Bucklin, a junior majoring in exercise science at MSUM, is on the women’s rugby club team, and she enjoys being back on Moorhead soil.
“It’s awesome to have a field that we get to practice on and play on, rather than practice somewhere and play on another field,” Bucklin said. “In the past we’ve played on NDSU’s field, which was nice, but wasn’t our own. Now we have our own and way more fans that come and support us.”
The program has provided chairs on the sidelines for players to sit, a water cooler to refresh parched palates and extra workers to help teams.
Members of the club teams are coming to Peterson with suggestions and questions about using the field to its full potential. She is excited about their enthusiasm. The five club sports teams have come together to split the costs of a $2,500 renting fee each year.
“I think they are coming up with some great ideas about how we can make that a premier spot for our club sports teams, so people want to come play us.”
Peterson also moved the location of the intramural and club sports website.
Before the change, it was very difficult for students to find the programs, which caused confusion and low enrollment for intramural and club sports. They now have their own tab, “Athletics and Recreation,” under “Student Life” at the MSUM homepage.
Some additions in the future include a clickable link for each club sport, where students can see the rosters of teams and the players’ short biographies. “We’re working on having it look a little more like an athletics site,” Peterson said.
There is not a huge change for indoor club sports teams, such as fencing and Tae Kwon Do, but Peterson is advocating getting practice time indoors so they don’t have to fight that battle, she said.
“I think in so many different ways intramural and club sports can fit the needs of our students,” Peterson said. “Club sports give them not only the opportunity to compete, but development opportunities and growth within leadership, organization and budgeting.”
For many athletes involved in club sports teams, there are upperclassmen who know what it is like to have to struggle. If the upperclassmen are seniors, then for the past three years they’ve had no professional staff to advocate for their team.
“It’s exciting to see the seniors finally getting something that they’d been wanting for a really long time … I think there’s a feeling of relief and pride of where the program has developed since they got here,” Peterson said.
BY JESSICA JASPERSON