The Sport Clubs program at California State University, Northridge is unlike many others because it offers so many students the chance to take part in an activity they’re interested in, to challenge themselves, and to build friendships.
“We have kind of approached ours a little differently,” CSUN Sport Clubs Manager John Paul Gale said. “A lot of schools’ sport clubs fall underneath student affairs, or in our case what would’ve been the Matador Involvement Center, but we have a department through the Associated Students explicitly for sport clubs.”
CSUN’s Sport Clubs program has more staffing than other schools, too. While most universities have only one full-time staff member, CSUN has four, according to Gale.
“We also have two full-time athletic trainers, an athletic training room, a weight room dedicated explicitly for sport clubs participants, which is very unique,” Gale said. “We are one of the few schools in the country who has that.”
The Sport Clubs program gives students the opportunity to compete regionally and nationally, allowing students to represent their school, and demonstrate their school spirit.
“We do perform very well,” said CSUN Sport Clubs Graduate Assistant Jade Law. “I know that our students represent CSUN very well, I think, and not just academically. We do hold all of our students to maintain a certain GPA level. They are required to perform academically, but they also represent CSUN even as high as the national level. We had our rugby club go all the way to Pennsylvania a few years back to represent CSUN nationally.”
All clubs are funded through a $92 fee from every student through their tuition each semester, according to Associated Student’s Lower Division Senator Nick Jackson. The total is around $8 million, which is dispersed to all clubs and organizations on campus.
“We [receive] about $650,000 from the A.S. budget,” Gale said. “In addition to that, the clubs put in their own dues and fundraise close to another $100,000, and then we also get donations that vary year-to-year: anywhere from $10 to 50,000, that goes towards the clubs and the operation of the clubs.”
There are often leftover funds at the end of the year. According to members present at a recent Sport Clubs Council meeting, there is $13,500 left in the A.S. budget.
“The funding that we reported at the last council meeting is allocated funds specifically for our sport clubs program,” CSUN Sport Clubs Council President Stephanie Peterson said. “During those meetings, people often put in requests for supplemental funding for our clubs. So, let’s say one of our teams has to travel to nationals and they don’t have money for plane tickets, then they would submit a request. Our executive board would take it to a vote and recommend an amount to allocate to them from that budget. Then we bring it before the council, and then the council votes on the amount that we recommended for the club.”
People often question the difference between club sports, NCAA sports, and intramurals, but according to Gale, CSUN students can actually choose among four levels of sports participation on campus.
“There’s your most informal, ” he said, “which is informal recreation, where people just show up and play a game on a field. Intramurals is the next step, where you’re playing games maybe once or twice a week and you’re playing a set game with set rules, and there’s no practice, no training or anything that goes on, you’re just playing a formal game once a week. The next step is sport clubs, and above that is NCAA athletics. The thing that those two have in common is that they’re intercollegiate.”
Aside from giving students the chance to play sports, CSUN has also designed a way to engage, showcase, and build a brand around their clubs and athletes, according to the Matador Sports Network web page. MSN covers sport clubs events, makes highlight reels for the teams, and builds a weekly sports show with team interviews.
“It started a little while back, a couple years ago with James [Jewett], I believe,” said Peterson. “He was from the roller hockey [team], and I also believe he was a journalism student, and he had this idea of just creating a general space where we can broadcast information about our CSUN sport clubs program. That was started, I think, four or five years ago.”
Jewett met with Gale, and they blended their ideas together, Gale said, and they started the MSN.
“Their objective is to live stream games now, and then also to provide highlights from games that we record and live-stream, and produce a weekly show called The Brief,” Gale said.
CSUN Sport Clubs officials said they want to be able to receive even more community recognition and refine what they have in the years to come.
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