Maine club sports teams toil to exist, and really like each and every minute

When Olivia Bourque became president of the club women’s basketball group at the University of Maine, she was staring down a extended to-do list.

There was a group to construct, a schedule to make, practices to hold. But in contrast to NCAA-level teams, she had small employees help — it was mainly her team’s duty.

Club sports are increasingly preferred at Maine colleges. They match in between the NCAA-level teams and the far much less formal intramural teams. They get some monetary enable from their schools, but substantially of the operate falls to the students themselves.

Women’s club basketball is new at the University of Maine in Orono, which has 28 club teams. The group spent the 2021-22 college year recruiting players, practicing and scrimmaging ahead of joining the National Club Basketball Association for this season. 

Maine has 19 players, with 15 permitted by league guidelines to suit up for a game. 

Bourque has her hands complete as club president. “I wasn’t confident if I could manage it at very first, but then immediately discovered it requires a village and the group was additional than prepared to enable out exactly where they could,” she mentioned.

There is 1 notable distinction in between club and intramural sports. Each are student-led, but club teams mainly compete against other schools and are additional formal and competitive, aligning closer to varsity college teams. 

Asked about the largest challenge of beginning a club sport from scratch, Bourque was blunt: all the things. 

“We didn’t know exactly where to start. When we did this there had been a number of meetings about the do’s and don’ts, fundraising, other club sports (operations), volunteering, student government, cash, traveling — this was the most overwhelming time of beginning the club.” 

That does not even incorporate the time commitment. 

“You have to devote so substantially of your time to organizing events, basketball games, volunteering and fundraising,” mentioned Bourque. More than the previous couple of months, she has superior perfected the balancing act of time commitment and, as she describes, mixing severe competitors with the enjoyable of club sports. 

“At the finish of the day it is a club group and everybody is there to have enjoyable, make good friends and play basketball.” 

An hour away at Colby College in Waterville, Jackie Ko is president of the women’s club rugby group, overseeing 35 regulars, with 25 permitted on a game-day roster. Sixteen of her players are freshmen, an uncommon — but welcome — bump in newcomers.

Couple of players had any rugby practical experience and some had no athletic practical experience at all ahead of joining the group — 1 of the 27 club teams at Colby. A handful had participated in sports such as basketball, hockey, soccer or track, and other folks had been on competitive dance teams. 

“Rugby is such a exclusive sport in that there is no accurate blueprint for accomplishment. No matter your background or practical experience, you can discover the sport and contribute to the group,” Ko mentioned. 

Members of Colby’s club women’s rugby group pose for a photo at a playoff match. Photo courtesy Jackie Ko.

The administrative operate is, likewise, Ko’s principal challenge, although rugby has been supplied at Colby for years, very first as a varsity sport, then as a club sport in current years. 

She and her vice president operate alongside the college’s athletic division on budgeting and match logistics (travel, lodging and meals for road games, settling on a get started time, and making certain referees will be on hand for house games), with the occasion and facility departments to coordinate space for group meetings and matches, and with league and college officials to guarantee all the required paperwork is submitted. 

“All in all, it can be hard to remain on best of administrative tasks even though also playing rugby and getting a student,” mentioned Ko.

Most of the fundraising to cover Colby’s $30,000 operational price range for the fall and spring rugby seasons comes by means of the Pals of Colby Rugby group, comprised largely of former players. The college gives a complete-time athletic trainer, leaving travel and gear expenditures to fundraising by the group. 

Right after a $two,500 contribution from its university to cover jerseys and basketballs, the UMaine group ought to fundraise $500 in the offseason — although it ordinarily nets $600 to $800 — to cover travel. 

Busy, but favorable, schedules 

In the course of the season, UMaine holds biweekly practices for two hours and sets aside an hour each and every Wednesday to volunteer with a neighborhood elementary college basketball system. Weekends include a doubleheader series, at house or at Massachusetts opponents. 

For Colby rugby, the in-season schedule consists of 4 or 5 practices weekly, based on the climate, and involves Monday film study sessions to evaluation how the group can boost off its most current weekend match. 

Road games make for extended days. The closest road game for Colby final fall was 1 hour to Bowdoin College in Brunswick. Its farthest was a 5-hour jaunt to Middlebury College in Vermont, with other road games 2½ hours to Endicott College in Massachusetts and 3½ hours to Bryant University in Rhode Island.

The group left the afternoon or evening ahead of road games, in rental vans this season due to the fact the trips had been also far for its standard carpooling. Considering the fact that substantially of the roster hails from about New England, players stayed with their teammates’ relatives, except for their very first two-day playoff practical experience, when they stayed in a hotel. 

The UMaine group, meanwhile, ordinarily departs Orono about 7 a.m. on game days for the doubleheader ahead of returning that evening. Each and every of its 3 road trips this season had been roughly 4 hours, to Massachusetts. Sometimes the group adds a group-bonding element just after a doubleheader. 

Rugby’s offseason enables for about 4 to six weeks of recovery from the fall season ahead of strength and conditioning begins for the spring. Captains hold practices early in the year till spring practices with coaches are in a position to start outdoors. 

“Because rugby is so physically demanding, the bonds that type in between our group are extremely powerful,” mentioned Ko. “I feel that rugby gives the atmosphere to develop our self-confidence, and create physical and mental strength that we will have for the rest of our lives.”

The UMaine group offseason is balanced in between practices, fundraising and neighborhood service, such as applications for kindergarten and very first-graders, and with the neighborhood YMCA. 

So with all the administrative operate — from fundraising to logistical — why step up?

“I wanted to do additional for this group that continues to do so substantially for me, which is why I chose to play a portion in major the group,” mentioned Ko. 

For Bourque, her largest worry was not possessing a powerful turnout or help. 

“They could have simply mentioned it was chaotic and also complicated to retain up with, but I got incredibly fortunate to have these girls,” mentioned Bourque. “They have had my back from the get started. They are the cause the difficult moments weren’t all that terrible and produced it worth it.”

Which is what tends to make the chaos manageable. 

“There is a sense of pride in saying, ‘I am the president of the women’s rugby group at Colby,’ ” Ko mentioned. “I wanted to make other folks really feel as inspired and connected to the group as I do.”


George Harvey is the multimedia editor for The Maine Monitor. Attain him by e mail: 

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