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Soccer club hopes to kick into varsity

October 20, 2006

UW-RF has had varsity women’s soccer since 1994, but there has never been a men’s team. Last year though, a group of students decided to try and change that. Currently there is an active club team that was started by senior Tony McFarlane. He said it started with an idea three years ago with the intent of eventually becoming a varsity team, but didn’t become serious until last fall.

McFarlane set up the team and did the talking with the officials in the activities department. He was also able to obtain funding from Kurran Sagan at the Leadership Center for things like referees and buses, and was helped out by the women’s head coach Sean McKuras who gave them balls and other equipment.

Sophomores Alex Hovde and Thiago Scolari found out about the team last fall at the involvement fair on campus. They helped to generate more interest by posting flyers in Rodli, the Student Center and through e-mail. The team has since grown to 18 players and holds tryouts.

McFarlane says the team is very energetic and loves the sport. This year they’ve had some new freshman joining the team, but with several seniors graduating they will be looking for players next year.

Hovde and Scolari are also co-captains of the team along with McFarlane and sophomore Dustin Engh. Since McFarlane is a senior he will be taking over the team next year, along with his duties of talking to officials and fundraising. This year the team paid $1,200 for new uniforms out of their own pockets, and next year they have to raise $3,000 for league fees, equipment, referees, buses and fields.

The team is planning on doing a fundraiser such as a bake sale or through a local business like Applebee’s or Dairy Queen. They are also the acting coaches of the team. The team is currently without a coach and is in desperate need of one. Their best candidate right now is a former Woodbury High School coach. Senior Kyle Reimann said that not having a coach is the toughest thing about being on a club team. He says that coaches provide direction and order and keep the players committed.

The team’s season started a week into the school year and goes until the weather gets too cold, at which point they will be part of an indoor league that plays at Bielenberg Sports Center in Woodbury, Minn. They practice at the intramural fields and play their games at Ramer Field.

Earlier in the year they beat UW-Stout at Ramer and lost to them at their field in Menomonie.

The team is getting closer to becoming a varsity squad. Hovde said he hopes the team achieves varsity status by his senior year. To reach this feat, the team must play at least six games in a season, have a set roster of 18 to 20 players and have people show up to their games. They need support to prove the team is serious.

Title IX is perhaps the teams’s biggest obstacle though. All universities need to have an equal number of men’s and women’s varsity teams. In order to become a varsity team, a women’s club team must gain varsity recognition as well. The best candidate right now is women’s rugby. The team is definitely heading in the right direction though, and Hovde says “we won’t stop until we have a varsity team.”

The team only played three games this year. Their last game was played last Thursday at Ramer against UW-Eau Claire.