Is Clarke University considering anything and everything for its athletics? Some students on campus, specifically student athletes, feel as though their respective sports are being overlooked by administration, thus, making them feel unimportant.
Decorated teams like Baseball, Softball, and Track and Field all been competing off campus since each of their inaugural seasons. Baseball competes at A.J. Spiegel Park in Peosta which is about a 20-minute drive. Softball competes at Veteran’s Memorial Park which is a 7-minute drive, and Track and Field have never even had home field advantage as they are always on the road. These teams, along with two Lacrosse teams, two Golf teams, two soccer teams, and potentially our new football team will have to share one indoor facility throughout the year, the Gantz Center, which is also a 7-minute drive from campus. Clarke does not provide transportation to these off-campus facilities.
Baseball, Softball, and Track and Field have been exceptionally successful in the past few years; however, a number of student-athletes feel as though they have nothing to show for it.
Campus is changing, and some concerns are coming to light. There is little word from the administration regarding what exactly these new facilities are going to look like. Students can visibly see the plethora of space there is on campus, and that there is a lot of room for possible facilities for sports that seem to have been forgotten.
In a conversation with All-American baseball player, Michael Lopez, a junior from Rancho Cucamonga, California, he expresses his discontent with the current facilities stating, “I feel like our team is consistently successful, however we still get the short end of the stick having to drive 20 minutes to practice every day. A lot of us are from far away states and don’t have cars at our disposal.”
Lopez continues with expressing frustration stating, “It just sucks because student-athletes work as hard as we can to represent Clarke and what has Clarke done for us? Now that they are taking trees down, I can see that there is definitely room on campus for a baseball field or even an Avila type facility which is a full length make-shift football field, soccer field, softball field, and baseball field…I know I am not alone by saying there is room for this type of facility at Clarke.”
Clarke softball players also express their frustration and feelings of neglect. Ally Renforth explains the softball field is less than conducive for competition and practice, “…we have to haul all of our equipment from Gantz to [Veteran’s Memorial Park] to the school. It’s a constant struggle having to chase down equipment.”
Renforth continues to express her frustrations with the actual field, “We play at a community field. Kids ride their bikes across it and even run onto our field during practice. We have to put up a fence in order for our field to be regulation, we have an extremely small dugout for our team, and we have a scoreboard with broken pegs for plastic numbers that fall off. In all of my four years of college softball we are the only team I’ve seen with less than satisfactory facilities like ours.”
Renforth continues to state, “don’t get me wrong, we are content with the facilities that we have, but now that Clarke is making new facilities for a team that doesn’t even exist yet, it kind of hurts feeling as though we have been totally forgotten about.”
In closing with Lopez he expressed, “Clarke is doing a lot of things right, but they are also doing a lot wrong. The university should be caring thoughtfully about their current students and student-athletes because we are the best chance they have at generating donors. Instead, most of us are unhappy and envy schools like Georgia Gwinnett, University of Dubuque and the facilities that many teams in our conference have. I understand sports aren’t everything in life, but Clarke is wasting the chance to bring a championship culture across all sports to campus.”
Personally being affected by this, it seems like Clarke is jumping the gun on some of the decisions they make. This article is not meant to be taken offensively. I think Coach Regalado is doing a great job recruiting a team and getting the Clarke community excited about football. Administration is doing a great job in supporting football on the Clarke campus. The soccer and lacrosse teams are all equally deserving of benefiting from these future facilities. All of these things aside, it still doesn’t hide the fact that current student-athletes feel neglected for a shiny new object when they have put in the blood, sweat, and tears in order to make their sports worthy of respect.
By: Jamie Deering