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Club sports take off at CU Denver

Volleyball, soccer, cheer/dance join hockey on roster; several more teams coming soon

11/8/2012
The CU Denver hockey team plays in front of a section of CU Denver supporters at the season-opening game.

By Chris Casey | University Communications

DENVER - What started with men's hockey last year has snowballed into an avalanche of interest in club sports at the University of Colorado Denver.

Aaron Wilson, club sports graduate assistant for CU Denver, has his hands full juggling the many teams that are organizing in the campus's club sports program. Just this fall, cheer/dance, women's volleyball and men's soccer teams have formed, and soon-to-come squads include women's soccer, men's and women's tennis and men's lacrosse.

"We're providing students the opportunity to play club sports," Wilson said. "In the past there have been Auraria club sports, but they haven't been geared toward or advertised to CU Denver students. I think the biggest thing is that students can say, 'I compete for CU Denver.' It's important to develop that sense of identity and community."

Hockey got its start when Gordon Nytes transferred to CU Denver and wanted to play his favorite sport. He considered joining Metropolitan State University of Denver's team, but the collegiate hockey's governing body doesn't allow club teams to field players from neighboring schools.

"They decided to start their own CU Denver team," Wilson said. "Once they did that, other students said, 'We also would like to represent CU Denver (in other sports). How do we make that happen?'"

Students are likewise enthusiastic about spectating. The Student Government Association sponsored a CU Denver spirit bus for the men's hockey season-opener. "We sold all 49 tickets on that bus in three days," Wilson said. "There were nearly 100 students who attended that first game."

To join the club sports roster, teams must field enough players, formulate a budget, coordinate where they will practice and determine which umbrella organization (league, governing body) they will compete under.

The women's volleyball team, who play in the Rocky Mountain Region Volleyball, competed in their first tournament on Sunday. They hope to host a tournament next semester, said Lorren Yniguez, a junior biology major. Each player paid $200 to cover uniforms, league fees and other expenses.

"One of the things SGA is trying to do this year is build a sense of community, and we're doing that with club sports and the Lynx mascot," Yniguez said. SGA has been coordinating the launch of a CU Denver-specific mascot. Asked through a survey last year what they'd like as a mascot, students chose the Lynx.

Wilson, who is a part-time club sports graduate assistant and full-time graduate MBA student with an emphasis in sports and entertainment management, said teams can look forward to displaying the Lynx logo once it's been approved early in the spring semester.

Thirty-five women attended the cheer/dance-squad meeting, Wilson said. The mascot will often perform with the cheer/dance team, while Wilson will manage the performance schedule of the Lynx, who will make his debut next semester.

At the first informational meeting for club sports in September, students expressed interest in forming 18 clubs. Other clubs in the works include swimming/diving, cycling, Brazilian jiujitsu and men's basketball.

Already, club sports is the largest student organization on the Denver Campus. The next step will involve determining how to fund the program to assure competitive and sustainable teams.

"We're starting to develop that club sports community that the general student population can rally around and use as a sense of identity since we don't have any of the traditional NCAA athletics," Wilson said.

Yniguez said it's exciting to be part of something that "will become bigger than us." The ultimate goal would be for the women's volleyball team, and possibly other CU Denver sports, to join the NCAA ranks, she said.

"We're trying to get the building blocks laid down for that, and we figured we had to start somewhere," Yniguez said.

For information about club sports, contact Wilson at aaron.wilson@ucdenver.edu, call (303) 556-3399 or stop by his office in the Office of Student Life in the Tivoli Student Union.

Cheer and Dance Try-Outs: 
Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 10, 11 -  Contact Aaron.Wilson@ucdenver.edu for more information

Mascot Try-Outs:
Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 10, 11 - Contact Aaron.Wilson@ucdenver.edu for more information

(Photo: CU Denver's hockey team plays in its season-opener in front of a group of students who traveled to the game on a CU Denver spirit bus.)

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Contact: aaron.wilson@ucdenver.edu

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