Men’s club soccer returns to App State

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Men’s club soccer returns to App State

Chris Warner

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Correction: We mistakenly ran a photo in both print and online of the Appalachian State Men’s Soccer Team, rather than of the club sports team. This picture has now been changed online to reflect the correct team.

As each member of the men’s club soccer team arrived at the Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex for practice, senior Ryan Bateman, the team’s president, stared at the brightly lit field where they’ll practice and reflects on the journey it took to field a team.

“I’m so jealous of the freshman that are coming out for these teams that got to just go to a tryout, be placed on a team, and get to compete and play,” Bateman said.

Bateman knows all too well what an uphill battle it’s been just to afford them this opportunity.

When he transferred from the University of South Carolina to Appalachian State in 2013, he went looking for a club soccer team to join, only to find disappointment.

What he discovered was an old, outdated team website. Upon further investigation, he learned that no such team actively existed as part of the university’s club sports program.

He was floored to see that a university with such a significant student population didn’t have an active team and reached out to contacts listed on the outdated website. One of those contacts was, and still is, the team’s faculty advisor Shea Tuberty, an associate professor in the biology department at the university.

Bateman approached Tuberty to learn about the team’s history and what led to its demise.

Tuberty said that the team’s previous officers, of whom he’d only met the president at the time, weren’t attending the mandatory twice-a-month meetings with the Club Sports Council, a council of student representatives from each recognized club sports team. Attendance to the meetings is a requirement laid out in the university’s club sports manual.

To make matters worse, during one of their final road trips before being shut down, Tuberty said the team returned a first-aid kit they rented from the university filled with tequila bottle caps and beer bottles.

“That was like putting the last nail in the coffin,” Tuberty said. “The program director for club programs called me up and said ‘we’re pulling the plug on you guys. There’s nothing you can do to prevent it. It’s happening.’”

Erin Sanders, assistant director for University Recreation, also said the team continually failed to submit important required forms, something which played into the club’s dismissal.

The team was voted out by the Club Sports Council, meaning they no longer had the right to affiliate as an App State club sports team, and no longer had access to facility privileges or funding granted to club sports teams.

In learning about the team’s fallout, Bateman also found that a former team member who graduated, Bradley Harrington, had begun the process to re-affiliate the team with the help of Tuberty.

Harrington graduated the semester before Bateman arrived, leaving the process unsettled. But for Bateman, this was a starting point.

The list of procedures to affiliate a club team with the university is a lengthy one and once your team has been suspended for more than a year, the process must be carried out as if the team is brand new.

In the fall semester, at least two organizers of the team must meet with the assistant director for club sports, receive approval from the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, and submit a written proposal to the Club Sports Office.

The proposal requires at least 13 specific documents, including a team constitution, a budget, proof of a governing body, and a letter of support from a faculty adviser.

Then, in the spring semester, club officers must meet with the Club Sports Executive Board to review their proposal, and finally present their proposal in front of the entire Club Sports Council, which include members from each university club sports team. The council then votes whether to decide the fate of the team.

In late April, the Club Sports Council approved the men’s club soccer team’s proposal and granted them affiliation.

“This is really quite an altruistic event,” Tuberty said. “[Ryan’s] putting in all this time and effort to do all this paperwork, put the effort forward, make all these meetings, and he’s going to get to play one year and then leave.”

But the team is not completely in the clear.

While they are now officially recognized as an App State club sport, the uphill battle continues. The team is still in a probationary period, which restricts their access to any university funding allocated towards club sports for the 2015 academic year.

Faced with adversity yet again, the team continues to persevere.

Coupled with what are higher dues than the team expects to charge going forward, the team has received donations from parents of team members and other members of the community, vice president and senior Louis Sabourin said.

The team has used this money to purchase jerseys and pay dues for the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association, the league in which the team will be competing this season. The challenge for funding will continue, however, if the team qualifies for the playoffs.

But when Bateson, Sabourin and other officers organized tryouts for the team’s inaugural season in August and over 100 students showed up, they knew all the hours of filling out paperwork, attending meetings, and working with the university towards their goal had paid off.

“I thought the process would be faster when we started it,” Sabourin said. “But it’s just worth it because even the one year, we get to establish something and build a legacy for the future.”

Like Sabourin, Bateson is proud that they’ve established something to pass on.

“It’s cool knowing that were hopefully giving people this opportunity to play,” Bateson said. “Hopefully were going to groom officers for the younger kids. If we come back to see a game in five or six years time, like to watch a football game, and we hear, ‘Oh, the club soccer team is playing this weekend,’ that’d be awesome.”

Story by: Chris Warner, Sports Editor