University City

UNCC club teams offer sports without the stress

When Kathleen Pasquarella transferred to UNC Charlotte two years ago, she was still interested in playing softball in college.

She wasn’t keen, however, on making the commitment a varsity student-athlete has to make. But the senior criminal justice major from Statesville thinks she has found the next best thing.

A former varsity player at Belmont Abbey, Pasquarella is a member of UNC Charlotte’s “club” softball team, which plays against other colleges and universities in the region. She still gets to play a sport she loves but does so in an environment she considers stress-free.

The softball team is just one of the 40 or so “sport clubs” managed by UNC Charlotte’s Recreational Services Department. The clubs range from competitive, such as the softball club, to more instructional, such as belly dancing.

Recreational Services’ mission is to get students involved and promote the “lifetime appreciation of a balanced, active and healthy lifestyle.” How seriously the students want to approach the activity is up to them.

“We don’t have a hard-and-fast rule that says you’re a sport or not a sport,” said Max Mello, UNC Charlotte’s assistant director for club sports. “All sport clubs are student organizations (on campus), but not vice versa.

“We ask them why they want to be a club. It may be more about the camaraderie than the activity itself.”

The laser-tag club has an interesting story about how it became an official sports club. A few years ago, Nicholas Easter, now the senior club president, and a few of his friends used to play the game casually on campus.

Their activity and the guns used to draw such concern that campus police were called on several occasions. Rather than have to explain themselves every time the police were called, the players formed a sport club.

Now the club is about 25 members strong and has regularly scheduled gatherings twice a week. As a bonus, the laser-tag players found a way to sustain their club financially by working concessions during Carolina Panthers home games at Bank of America Stadium.

In the eyes of Recreational Services, the laser-tag club is a green-tier club, meaning it is either an instructional club or competitive club but not a member of a national governing body, like the softball club.

Green-tier clubs also are eligible for up to $2,500 in allocated funds through Recreational Services.

Instructional – or white-tier – clubs are eligible for up to $1,000. Gold-tier clubs – which compete on a national level – may receive up to $5,000. Those clubs often have the extra expense of traveling or paying game officials.

Clubs asking for funds for special circumstances, such as attending a national championship tournament in their sport, must submit proposals to the executive council, which is comprised of a select number of club presidents, Pasquarella among them.

“Club sports have definitely given me a really awesome leadership opportunity,” Pasquarella said. “I’ve learned good time-management skills and organization. I really enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun.”

Recreational Services also requires clubs at each tier to complete community service projects.

Among the clubs that compete nationally are softball, ice hockey, roller hockey, lacrosse and rugby, but there are just as many nontraditional sports, such as Quidditch, paintball and kung fu.

“If we don’t have what you’re looking for, you’re welcome to start your own club,” Mello said.

Sigmon has record-setting weekend in Las Vegas

Charlotte 49ers women’s basketball player Hillary Sigmon had a record-setting weekend at the Lady Rebel Round-up in Las Vegas on Nov. 30-Dec. 1.

The junior guard had a career-best 22 points against Cincinnati in an opening-round loss, then duplicated the output in a second-round victory against host UNLV.

The 49ers’ next game is Dec.8 at home against South Carolina. The Gamecocks were ranked as high as No.13 in one national poll last week. Game time is 2p.m.