Endowment supports club sports

Ava Riger | staff photographer | President Ken Gormley talks to sports' club captains about new funding.

Emma Polen & Isabella Abbott | editor-in-chief & features editor

Duquesne club sports on campus will receive funding allocated specifically for their organizations thanks to a donation from a now-deceased anonymous graduate.

Duquesne University President Ken Gormley announced the news to a group of club sports team leaders Wednesday evening. He said they plan to use $50,000 this academic year to launch the initiative for the 15 club sports on campus.

The goal with the allocation of funds is to at least help with covering partial costs for these sports.

Gormley called the endowment a “great, great asset and opportunity for students.”

The endowment would provide a “steady source of funding for club sports,” Gabe Welsch said, university communications liaison. This amount could be $40,000-$47,000 per year.

Officially, the anonymous donor provided $1.1 million which will be invested.

“This is the year, 2023, to make sure that we declare the club sports a really important priority for this university,” Gormley said.

He asked the student leaders themselves how they would describe the significance of their clubs, sports teams and activities for students at Duquesne.

Club tennis president Wyatt VanDyke called club teams an “opportunity to form a community.”

As a transfer student in his sophomore year, VanDyke found tennis to be a way of meeting friends that he did not otherwise have the opportunity to meet coming in as a freshman.

While VanDyke was elated at the idea of lowering due costs for his co-ed team, he said he would “need to see the process before” making a final judgment on the usefulness of the new funds.

Girls’ club volleyball president Joy Chen said the current process for accruing funds is difficult. Her team has still not been able to access crowdfunding they fundraised last semester – $2,500 that is inaccessible to the team.

Dan McCarthy, director of recreational services, recalled that when he started at Duquesne 15 years ago, there was one club field hockey team with about 30 students involved. Now, that number has grown to 15 club sports teams with over 300 participating members.

For students, club sports offer a “life-changing” way of “finding their tribe,” McCarthy said.

President of club baseball, Hunter Findlay, said his team was “like hanging out with your friends.” For him, the biggest issue with the club’s costs was not being able to afford travel tournaments.

Currently, the dues for club baseball are $400 per player. Findlay was concerned with having to raise the price of dues this year to afford travel expenses – the team’s closest conference game is 45 minutes away – but this concern might now be avoided.

Vice president of women’s club lacrosse, Sydney Mundok, was also conscious of how team dues might dissuade prospective players from joining the team. The lacrosse team lacks the time and space available to teach girls who want to join but do not yet have experience with the sport. In order to continue competing in their current club lacrosse league, the club team will need to travel further out to play against the minimum number of schools per year, Mundok said.

With the funds, Mundok believes the team can improve their skill level, practice more than once a week and become more competitive at tournaments. Right now, the team is at all different skill levels and everyone has playing time.

Aidan O’Donnell is in the process of starting up a club track and field team this year.

“You want to just kind of make that community,” he said, “where you don’t have to worry about committing too much time on something that you really want to enjoy with friends.”

According to a 2022-2023 Princeton Review, Duquesne was high on the list of schools where everyone plays intramural sports.

While this report categorized intramural and club sports together, in practice, they provide different opportunities for students.

The club teams play other schools, while intramural sports play within Duquesne, Welsh said.

Much like other clubs on campus, club sports teams will now have the opportunity to submit a budget every semester, to at least partially cover costs that club members were previously fully responsible for.

Boys club soccer president Zachary Shane said the cost of jerseys and referees are his team’s main concern. Uniforms were a common expense that club teams were hoping to alleviate with the newly allocated funding.

“We have no uniforms in those singlets because we just started, so last year we used our own stuff,” club wrestling president Gram Hepner said. “We share some stuff but you don’t really want to share a singlet after someone uses it.”

Though the club men’s wrestling team is somewhat new to campus, Hepner said there is a lot of interest, even in forming a women’s team. He hopes they will use the money for items they need including singlets, cleaning solution for their mats and travel supplies.

Hepner and Shane also said each team has to pay for their own trainers at home games as well.

All club sports leaders acknowledged a lack of space for storage and practice locations.

This problem was addressed as well at the announcement.

“Some of these things…come with the territory,” Gormley said, “but it is important to try to figure out how to make some of this more accessible.”

Along with the funds, Gormley’s announcement included a statement about using the official Duquesne logo in club sports attire.

“It’s really important to have your identity,” Gormley said. By relaxing some of the rules about using the Duquesne “D,” club sports teams will be able to sell merchandise without worrying about copyright.

“The whole goal is we want this to be the start of something even bigger,” Gormley said, “not just for you, but [for] future generations of students here.”