Junior aims to establish club basketball team
With UConn being a powerhouse school in regards to Division I athletics, its club sports can often be overshadowed and underreported. Club basketball, until now, was non-existent - but junior Alex Askinazi started the process to create a team this year.
Alex is currently a 6th-semester communications major. Basketball and sports have always been a part of Alex's life. As he said, "growing up I have always had a passion for sports and being physically active." When he got to UConn, he joined intramural basketball, but longed for something more competitive and long term. With the help of some of his friends, including the club's CFO Zach Thomas, he was able to get people to sign up, try out and create a roster.
Although he said the process in creating the team was not too strenuous he noted that "the most frustrating part for our team is, by school rules, we are not able to become a school recognized club team until we run as a student organization for one year." Since they are not an official club team yet, they are not funded by the school, which is the goal for next year.
Club Sports is a growing Tier II organization at UConn with 1,200 athletes and 43 teams as of 2013. As a result of club teams being a Tier II organization, they are similar to other clubs and groups at UConn that appear at the involvement fair. Club Sports as a whole relies on a council that allocates funds to each team, with every team getting a spot on the council after they get through the one-year probation. All the teams draft a collective constitution by which the players must abide and follow in order to remain a team and receive funding. In order to stay a team, each team has to perform two community service events, demonstrate leadership, pay club dues, attend weekly meetings and follow a point system that ensures they remain engaged. Although most people think club teams are just made up of undergraduates, graduate students and community members can join any club team.
According to Kimberly Sadowski, the Program Coordinator for club sports, a men's basketball team "would benefit the school." She was shocked that there was not a men's club basketball team at such a big school, and thinks this new team led by Alex has "a good chance to become a club team, if they can stay organized and keep with it." Although the process takes awhile, it is not improbable, as shown by the women's club basketball team, which is in their second semester of being an official club team.
Unlike Division I, club teams are not put in set conferences such as the American Athletic Conference or the Big 12, but rather are with other teams in more geographically friendly conferences. This new club team will be playing in the Eastern Conference League, which is home to top-ranked teams such as Ithaca, Sacred Heart, Syracuse and SUNY. UConn's roster currently boasts 10 players, all of which are under classmen.
While the future is uncertain for this team, its members are committed to making it stick. "If I see my idea come to life and become recognized by the school, I will breathe a sigh of satisfaction," Askinazi said, "I know my staff and teammates will as well."
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