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Michigan State club sports seek more spaces and time slots to practice and play

MSU’s men’s water polo team celebrating in the water moments after winning the CWPA National Championship.
Tracy Saur
MSU’s men’s water polo team celebrating in the water moments after winning the CWPA National Championship.

There are a lot of club sports and that is causing serious accessibility issues for facilities and times to practice and play. The space and financial crunch is pushing many clubs off campus.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State’s men’s club water polo and women’s club soccer teams hope that the announcement of a new recreational facility and additional turf fields will solve one of its biggest problems: accessibility.

“I’m just anxious to have a space that we know is ours instead of getting bumped around in different seasons,” said Grace Hickey, who plays midfield for women’s club soccer. “I think the school could do a little more to help find places to practice, but since they’re building the new fields, I have to give them credit for that.”

Hickey, who also plays for Michigan Jaguars FC, explained the current lack of accessible field space is a problem during the season. The team is forced to play its home games at the East Lansing Soccer Complex located three miles north of MSU.

“We can’t play on campus,” Hickey said. “We have to pay for an additional field space because Munn Turf, when they designed it … they designed it too small for a regulation field, so we can’t use it for games.”

Facility access is not just a problem during the season, but it also affects offseason training. The women’s club soccer team rents out time slots at IM West and the Duffy Daugherty Football Building during their winter and spring practice sessions - which often occur late at night.

“Our practice time in the winter we get 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. at the Duffy [Daugherty] field and we have to pay a kid to turn the lights on and off,” said Madison Krzisnik, a junior defender from Novi, Michigan. “It’s not ideal for everyone. For me it’s fine, but there are some girls who need their sleep to function.”

The men’s water polo team taking a group photo with their national championship trophy.
Tracy Saur
The men’s water polo team taking a group photo with their national championship trophy.

Dues for the women’s club soccer team were $400 this season without uniforms. The money goes towards renting out spaces for practices, reimbursements for travel to away games and reserving a portion to also pay their coach.

The men’s club water polo team, whose dues were also $400 for the season, cited the necessity to pay for spaces as a reason why the team does not enforce mandatory group training in the offseason, unlike the women’s club soccer team.

“If we’re going to train somewhere as a team we have to pay for that time,” said fifth year senior Ben Daugherty. “In the offseason, it’s pretty much all individually led, encouraged by captains and leaders. It’s on you to show up in shape for the season.”

The 2021 Big Ten and Collegiate Water Polo Association national champions also run into the problem of not being able to fully utilize the existing facilities at MSU to train in the offseason. Daugherty cites the limited capacity of the pool located in IM West as a factor in the team's offseason plan.

“We get in where we can and we just have to make it work,” said Daugherty, who won the CWPA national tournament MVP award. “It’s not super easy. We have to get in during free swims and we can’t run a team practice.”

Regardless of field and pool availability, members of both teams regularly go outside of using MSU facilities to train in the offseason. Even though MSU has since made IM facilities “free” - due to a mandatory student recreational facility fee being assessed to student tuition and fees - many members of these teams use private gym memberships instead.

“I would say at least half of us go to the gym outside of practice,” said Krzisnik, a human biology major. “Most of the freshmen and all those who live in the dorms go on-campus from what I know. Those who live off-campus, all of them go off-campus.”

Members of the men’s club water polo team find it easier to have private gym memberships because getting to, and using MSU’s recreational facilities, is a challenge.

The women’s club soccer team posing for a team photo after the regional tournament.
Anna McKay
The women’s club soccer team posing for a team photo after the regional tournament.

“It’s just easier for most of us to hop in our cars and drive rather than bike or walk because parking isn't usually fully available at IM West,” said Manit Patel, a sophomore utility player for men’s water polo. “IM sucks and depending on what times you want to go, you have to be super picky about that.”

Though MSU’s women’s club soccer team is ecstatic over the announcement of the new turf fields, men’s water polo still has cause for concern as there has been no news of a pool being worked into the plans for the new recreational facility.

“There’s so many valid reasons to have nice facilities,” said Chandler Jones, vice president of men’s club water polo. “A pool would give us huge benefits in terms of our competition, the athletes that would choose to come here and practices. A new pool would be the biggest thing that would benefit us for sure.”

For more information about the new recreational facility and turf fields at MSU click here.

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