Top left: John de Lellis (4th year student, paintball) Top Right: James Manikas (3rd year student, wrestling) Bottom left: Sam Marley (5th year student, soccer). Bottom right: Olivia Giorlandino (3rd year student, rugby)

College Town, a newsletter produced in Fall 2017’s “Digital Storytelling and Social Media” course, spoke with four Northeastern club captains who devote hours on end to the sports they hold so dear – without all the privileges varsity athletes enjoy. They all agree on one thing, though: it’s worth it.

Below, the full interview. 

How does your practice situation compare with a Northeastern Division I athlete?

de Lellis: Most of the time we were going to a field up in Chelsea, which was like 20-25 minutes away. It’s an indoor field. We tried to get something going down in Connecticut last semester, but it was a long drive and didn’t work for people. For the training facilities at Cabot, we had to pay out of our club account to use them. If we wanted to just go in and workout, we had to book a training session and do all of this extra stuff. It wasn’t a straightforward thing where we had a block of time. We had to pay like $100 per training session. For a small club of only ten people at most, you feel that.

Manikas: We practice in Marino, and we have that whole area reserved Monday,Wednesday and Friday from 6pm-8pm and then the volleyball team comes in. It’s really not too hard of a workload. But I don’t want guys on the team who are there but barely come to practice. I understand if people can’t make it but I want them to let me know if they can’t. Obviously this school is very different from other schools in that a lot of guys are looking for co-op while they’re studying which is basically another class in it’s own. It’s a very different environment.

Marley: We get set field times just from the club office. We request our field times and we organize our own schedule and then get our field times based off that. It’s not as much as you’d like but you’re practicing three days a week and playing twice. We are able to practice at Cabot sometimes, but most of the time we’re at Parsons, which is a bit out of the way.

Giorlandino: We practice at Parsons — our varsity athletic complex, which is good and really better than most programs actually have at Northeastern. Though we find it horrible in some ways, it’s better than a lot of club programs, but it also means we are [given poor time slots]. A lot times we are 7:30-9pm, which is inconvenient for a lot of people and then sharing it with a bunch of club sports means we sometimes have 6am-8am practices and sometimes we have 10pm-12am. The perks of being a division 1 athlete aren’t allotted to club sports but we work essentially as hard.  It is a burden because you can never practice a full field, so when we get to an actual game, we’re like “the field is so much bigger than we remember” because we’ve been practicing on half a field. In my memory it’s always been that way, so we expect practices to be half of a field. When we have a whole field it’s a special occasion.

What kind of expenses does your team face that D1 athletes don’t worry about? 

de Lellis: We have to pay for all of our own equipment and things like that, but sometimes travel isn’t covered in certain situations and was a real pain. For Nationals (in Florida), which is in April, prices for flights skyrocket around that time. I think we spent around $500 per person minimum to get down there, all out of pocket.. I had a six hour layover to get a cheaper flight in Buffalo.

Manikas: We do have dues and guys have to get their own shoes and head gear. We pay for new cleaning supplies as well. We just ordered a new mop for the mats because we sweat on there all the time and there’s a lot of dust in there. We don’t have a staff that cleans stuff for us so we need to make sure to wipe off the mats before every practice because you could get skin diseases and things like that. That’s just something you don’t think of.

Marley: We take a trip every year to Penn St. as a club team…If you’re going that far with the varsity team you fly. My freshman year (on the varsity team) to go to away games in Virginia, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, obviously we’d fly. It’s all paid for, good hotel and don’t really have to deal with anything. Just turn up to the bus and food, everything like that, is provided for you. All of your kits are washed. We go to Penn State every year and we get two mini buses from the school, which is still more than most club teams get. We piled in the vans, the players are driving, we travel eight hours to Penn State and we stay in a crappy motel. Four to a room. Two to a bed. Cram in as many as you can. We play and then we’re straight back after two games, eight hours on the bus.

Giorlandino: We try to keep our dues really low, so that we can encourage people to join because it’s a new sport. We want to encourage people to come out and play even without experience, but they understand you can’t just join and automatically be varsity. It’s just not the way it works. We’re good keeping our dues at $100. Our equipment is to buy rugby shorts for $30, mouth guards for $10, cleats and socks. It’s not too bad of a financial burden but I know other club sports like hockey, it’s like $500 dues.

What would you say is the biggest disadvantage you face as a club team? What motivates you to battle through it?

de Lellis: It wasn’t easy coordinating with the clubs’ office. The travel was pretty well covered and we were able find a time and place to practice, the school was pretty good about that, but therereally  were a lot of hoops to jump through to get to that and it was all on us. We didn’t have a coach to do that stuff. We had to handle everything. I understand it’s paintball though. It’s an obscure sport, but we do it because we love it.

Manikas: it’s hard to get guys to come out to open mats all the time.For me, I have to be very calm and composed with everyone and be understanding about that. But at the same time, I really want our team to be more competitive this year. Commitment is important and you get out of it what you put in. There’s nothing better than winning and the ref raises your hand. It’s the best feeling in the world.

Marley: Just one of the main differences is travel. But I also think just progressing as a young adult, playing club has a load of benefits that playing varsity can’t provide to you. Yeah varsity is a little more competitive on field and some kids are trying to go pro. This is their lives, this their career to a lot of kids. But with a club you gotta build everything for yourself. Nothing is provided to you. You have to organize the buses, the hotel, the team bonding events, the kits, the refs, and it makes you realize how much goes into it.

Giorlandino: For getting to practice most people will walk, which is a 40-minute walk to Parsons on a good day. Some people drive if they have cars and we carpool. The men’s rugby team actually rents vans to do it because it is such a commitment to get there and back. For field space, most of time we share the fields…it’s rare that we have an entire field there for us for an entire practice. Time-wise it’s an added expense but it comes with played the sport you enjoy. I like to think of it like it’s any other extracurricular that you could be involved in. I once had a roommate who was super involved in pitch please, which is an a cappella group on campus and she had rehearsal  as much as a I practiced so I think of it as me extensively committing to one extracurricular. It’s definitely worth it.