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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 create, 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 common at Maine colleges. They match involving the NCAA-level teams and the far significantly less formal intramural teams. They get some economic enable from their schools, but considerably of the function 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 prior to 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 initially, but then speedily 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 involving 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: every thing. 

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

That does not even contain the time commitment. 

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

“At the finish of the day it is a club group and everybody is there to have entertaining, make pals 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 prior to 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 individuals had been on competitive dance teams. 

“Rugby is such a exclusive sport in that there is no accurate blueprint for good results. No matter your background or practical experience, you can find out 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 function is, likewise, Ko’s main challenge, even though rugby has been provided at Colby for years, initially as a varsity sport, then as a club sport in current years. 

She and her vice president function alongside the college’s athletic division on budgeting and match logistics (travel, lodging and meals for road games, settling on a begin time, and making sure referees will be on hand for property 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 top rated of administrative tasks though also playing rugby and getting a student,” mentioned Ko.

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

Just after a $two,500 contribution from its university to cover jerseys and basketballs, the UMaine group will have to fundraise $500 in the offseason — even though it generally nets $600 to $800 — to cover travel. 

Busy, but favorable, schedules 

Through 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 property or at Massachusetts opponents. 

For Colby rugby, the in-season schedule consists of 4 or 5 practices weekly, based on the climate, and incorporates Monday film study sessions to assessment how the group can strengthen 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 prior to road games, in rental vans this season simply because the trips had been also far for its classic carpooling. Because considerably of the roster hails from about New England, players stayed with their teammates’ relatives, except for their initially two-day playoff practical experience, when they stayed in a hotel. 

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

Rugby’s offseason makes it possible for for about 4 to six weeks of recovery from the fall season prior to strength and conditioning begins for the spring. Captains hold practices early in the year till spring practices with coaches are capable to start outdoors. 

“Because rugby is so physically demanding, the bonds that kind involving our group are extremely powerful,” mentioned Ko. “I consider that rugby delivers the atmosphere to develop our self-assurance, and create physical and mental strength that we will have for the rest of our lives.”

The UMaine group offseason is balanced involving practices, fundraising and neighborhood service, which includes applications for kindergarten and initially-graders, and with the neighborhood YMCA. 

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

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

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

“They could have conveniently mentioned it was chaotic and also tricky to retain up with, but I got really fortunate to have these girls,” mentioned Bourque. “They have had my back from the begin. They are the purpose the difficult moments weren’t all that undesirable and created 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 individuals 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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