Jun 152010
Authors: Kyle Grabowski

While 2009-2010 wasn’t the most successful for CSU varsity athletics, campus sports clubs captured two national titles to cap a run of dominance in recent years.

CSU baseball won its sixth title in the past seven years by defeating Penn State in the National Club Baseball Association World Series. The Rams reigned over the series, winning their games by a combined score of 49-8.

Catcher Thomas “Tommy” Johnson was named World Series MVP after hitting .550 with 3 home runs and 8 RBIs.

“There was a great sense of accomplishment,” head coach Mike Abernathy said. “It’s always our ultimate goal (to win the NCBA World Series).”

Even with their run of three straight titles and six out of the last seven, Abernathy feels that winning the national championship is always a special experience.

“Each season is its own entity,” he said. “The difficult part is the expectation to compete for and win a national championship every year.”

CSU finished 46-7 on the year, including 12-2 in conference, while finishing the season on a 10-game winning streak.

The women’s lacrosse club endured a rougher road to their national title, but still managed to defeat Cal Poly 6-4 in the US Lacrosse Women’s Division Intercollegiate Associates (WDIA) National Championship game.

CSU entered the national tournament as the No. 11 seed and knocked off three of the top five overall seeds, including defending national champion Virginia Tech in the first round.

“It was an amazing experience,” head coach Kelly Prime said. “We kind of squeaked by into the tournament, they called us the ‘Cinderella team’.”

Rams goalie Annette Greenberg was named the tournament’s Outstanding Goalie after making 10 saves in the national title game while only giving up one goal in the final 38 minutes of the match.

Midfielder Katie Nepil was honored as the tournament’s Outstanding Midfield, who scored with 10:21 remaining in the championship game to put the Cal Poly Broncos away for good.

Overall, the Rams went 18-7 on the season, stringing an eight-game winning streak together in the middle of the season after dropping the year’s opening two games.
Sports club success at CSU is not one pillar of excellence, but a many-tiered support structure, which elevates the programs to new heights.

Aaron Harris, director of CSU sports clubs, said that the primary reason for club success is a lot of hard work.

He added that the resources available to sports club teams from Campus Recreation, including access to facilities and financial support, put CSU’s programs a cut above the rest.

Abernathy agrees that the time to access the facilities is very helpful to his team, as well as “talented and consistent players.”

Prime, on the other hand, chalked up much of the recent success to the presidents of the individual sports clubs.

“Leadership on the team has built up club stability and led to success,” she said. “The trouble is finding a coach that will stick around year in and year out.”

The women’s lacrosse team was still looking for a coach prior to the season before Prime took the position. She had coached the Rams in 2008, but elected not to for the 2009 spring due to personal reasons.

The primary difference between sports clubs and varsity sports is money. Varsity sports receive funding directly from the university as well as scholarships while sports clubs are entirely student-driven.

Athletes raise all of the funds required for the club through dues and fundraising as well as organizing the schedule, planning the trips and designing the uniforms when it is warranted.

“You really have to have a passion for the game to pay for everything,” Prime said.
Though they are just as successful as varsity teams, sports clubs receive significantly less respect and notoriety, in spite of their hard work.

“We do the same things as a varsity sport,” Abernathy said. “We just don’t seem to get the same respect because we’re a club.”

In spite of all of the recent success of CSU sports clubs, the move from club to varsity is unlikely in the near future, even for a program as dominant as baseball.

“I spoke to the athletic director very casually, recently,” Abernathy said, “ and he said we would need a $13 to 15 million dollar endowment to make that happen.”

Sports Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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