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For the Love of the Game

Three of UT’s sports clubs have made it to national championships.

Published: May 12, 2011
In its second full season, UT’s paintball team competed in the National Collegiate Paintball Association’s national tournament in April, placing 35th out of 53 teams in its division.
In its second full season, UT’s paintball team competed in the National Collegiate Paintball Association’s national tournament in April, placing 35th out of 53 teams in its division.
In the last year, three of UT’s sports clubs have made it to national championship tournaments. Roller hockey, paintball and cricket teams are making a name for themselves and the rest of UT’s sports club program, which is growing each year.

In the fall, the sports club program will have 10 different athletic choices including ice hockey, netball, fishing, synchronized swimming, field hockey, equestrian competition and the Harry Potter-influenced game of Quidditch.

“It’s set up to be a leadership experience for the students,” said Director of Campus Recreation Charles Yezak, explaining that the University’s program operates under the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association. While intramurals are facilitated by UT staff, sports clubs are student driven.

“They are responsible for the success and potential failure of the program as they are involved in every aspect of it,” said Yezak. “If they are an introvert, they need to become extroverted to advertise their sport to get others interested. They do the fundraising, motivate their teammates to come to practice and decide who gets to travel when they compete.”

The Cricket Club placed third in American College Cricket’s Southeast Championship and advanced to the 2011 Spring Break Championship March 15-20 against teams like the University of Florida and Auburn University.

Roller hockey, one of the first sports clubs started at UT five years ago, had an undefeated season in 2009-2010, advancing to the Division II nationals where they finished in the final four. Because of their performance, they were moved into Division I where they played this past season, advancing to the elite eight against schools like the University of Central Florida, Ohio State, University of Connecticut and the University of Michigan.

In its second full season, UT’s paintball team competed in the National Collegiate Paintball Association’s national tournament in April, placing 35th out of 53 teams in its division.

Brock Mangus ’11, most recent past-president of UT’s eight-member paintball team, considers himself an ambassador for the game. Whether from the paintball magazines he reads on airplanes that incite conversation or the minor welts – or “badges of courage” – that leave their mark on his skin, Mangus takes any chance to explain the game to those who ask him.

“It’s more of a sport than a war game,” said Mangus, who graduated in May with a degree in electronic media art and technology and works for Clear Channel Communications in its video department.

In matches on a marked field, five players are pitted against another five who use inflatable bunkers to dodge the paintballs. The goal is to hit every member of the opposite team as fast as possible, which usually takes two to three minutes. With paintball guns that shoot 12 paint pellets a second, Mangus said there are hundreds of paintballs in the air at once.

“The spectators can be as loud as they want too, which makes it a lot of fun,” Mangus said.

Sports clubs’ success can be attributed to the talent of athletes who want to have a more diverse academic career. Yezak, who’d like to grow the sports club program to 20 clubs by 2015, said when playing varsity sports, athletes must devote a majority of their extracurricular time to their sport. With sports clubs, students are able to participate in internships, part-time jobs and other extracurricular activities because sports clubs tend to have more flexible schedules.

“It gives students a place to continue their passion without having to dedicate their lives to it,” Yezak said. “It’s less pressure for them, but still very competitive. They play for the pure love of the game.”


Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer