Sports

Rough day for club soccer

March 31 was a rough day for the men’s club soccer team.

Around 4:45 p.m., the club’s leaders exited a meeting where they had formally received “strike one.” Club sports teams are disciplined for various infractions through a three-strike system. The team formally received its first strike for, among various things, using Campus Recreation facilities without a permit, holding team activities prior to having players properly rostered, and the team president had collected players’ fees when those duties are supposed to be handled by a team treasurer or Campus Recreation officials.

“I was actually so angry with what had happened with that meeting, I was writing my letter of resignation to hand in [the next week],” Marlon Johnson, senior vice president of the team, said.

While strike one is simply a warning, Sports Club Coordinator Sarah Newton warned the club that further offenses would lead to strike two, which carries the penalty of being prohibited from practicing or playing games as a team. Newton declined to be interviewed, electing to have questions answered through Steve Young, director of Campus Recreation. One of the potential offenses discussed was staying off of Geasey Field while Temple Athletics’ teams were either practicing or playing games.

“They were warned that it was imperative on their part to stay off the turf till the varsity lacrosse team was done practicing, or their game was over,” Young said. “There have been a few times where an intramurals or club teams come on the field when athletics isn’t done yet and coaches get ballistic about this, they’ve talked to us about this, and we’ve talked to our folks about this and our supervisors for club intramurals.”

“Soccer’s been warned about this a few times,” he added.

Athletics have an arrangement with Campus Recreation for sharing Geasey Field. Athletics gets the field from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and after that, the field belongs to Campus Recreation for use by either club sports or intramurals.

About an hour after the meeting, three players from the club team arrived at the field as the lacrosse team was wrapping up a 14-12 victory over Princeton. At the same time, around five to eight individuals were kicking a soccer ball on the field before the three had players had arrived at the field. According to Young, an athletics administrator at the game approached the players and asked them to exit the field. The players complied with the request but made a point to tell the supervisor that those other individuals were not affiliated with the team.

Athletics spokesman Larry Dougherty said the supervisor who approached the players was a representative from Campus Recreation and not from Athletics. Johnson said that although the woman who approached the players did not identify herself, he was sure she was from Athletics.

The next day, Campus Recreation received a report from the supervisor and decided to give the team its second strike, putting it on probation.

“We got the report from the athletic administration that the club members were pretty disrespectful and belligerent,” Young said.

The last time a team received probation was the now-defunct cricket club team last year. Cricket went all the way to strike three, which is termination of the club after the team had repeated issues regarding the use on non-rostered players. For a player to be properly rostered, he or she has to sign all necessary waivers, have their medical information given to Campus Recreation and must have paid the associated fees. Campus Recreation will also not entertain the idea of bringing the team back or adding any new teams, Young said.

“We’re capped, we’re not going to entertain applications for new clubs,” Young said.

Limited staff and funding have been the primary reasons for the cap on club teams.

“We’ve got 1.25 staff taking care of 28 sport clubs,” Young said. “We would probably be in better shape with more staff to keep more fingers and eyes on teams, but resources are what they are. If anything, we’ve been involved in a budget constraint for the past two years.”

Because of the limited staff, there is the expectation for teams to manage themselves, while Campus Recreation handles duties such as handling medical care, signing permits for use of facilities and allocating funds.

“You’ll get some latitude because these are some new clubs and they have to learn the system, so I’ll be honest to get a first strike, you’ll be accruing some transgressions,” Young said.

After the club soccer team, which is in its second year of existence, was put on probation, Johnson tore up his resignation letter and went to work.

“I think it was a time where I didn’t want to worry about me and focus on clearing the names of the 30 guys on the team,” Johnson said.

Johnson made his own inquiry into the incident, interviewing the players involved to find out what had happened.

“They said they kind of stepped on, not with the attention of doing anything, but just to see what’s going on and he said the game was ending,” Johnson said. “From what one guy said, the woman was actually very harsh and belligerent toward them, and he said, ‘Sorry about that,’ and they complied and went off the field.”

Johnson later requested a meeting with Young and compared his findings to what was said in the report from the Athletics’ supervisor. It was determined that what Johnson and his fellow players had maintained since March 31 was proved correct: that they complied with the supervisor’s request and that they were not being disrespectful to the supervisor.

“We got painted in a bad light for something that had nothing to do with us,” Johnson said. “We made it very clear that we had nothing to do with it, he even pulled out his file and said, ‘OK, it does match up,’ and she said that they complied and that the others were not with them. “

A few days after the meeting, the team was reinstated with both strike one and two removed, and Campus Recreation even went forward with the purchase of the team’s jerseys, which they wouldn’t have received had they still been on probation.

Despite the team’s reinstatement, Young won’t forget the turmoil that had plagued the team earlier in the year.

“The status now is they’re back, we’ve rescinded the second strike and strike one, but I also had a long talk with Marlon about how they can’t disregard the idea that they need to get their house in order,” Young said. “They still have a file of transgressions that show they haven’t exactly been model citizens so far, so it won’t take as many offenses to get to strike one next year.”

Johnson said the team’s future looks bright as the incoming leaders for next year’s team were side by side with him through the ordeal and are now well versed in what to do and what not to do in regards of running a club team, but for now he is happy to have the name of the team he helped create cleared.

“I want to give a lot of credit to Steve Young, he’s shown a lot of understanding and told me how to look at things from both sides,” Johnson said.

“I have a lot of respect for Marlon,” Young added. “He has shown a lot of class in going about and dealing with this and he has a pretty good grasp of what we want and what we need.”

Brian Dzenis can be reached at brian.dzenis@temple.edu.

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