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CU students who participate in club sports are as responsible for what happens on the field as they are for front-office decisions, and their dedication to both led to multiple championships last year.
Students who play club sports decide on everything from budgets to hiring coaches. Triathlon, mountain biking, men’s soccer and the Division III men’s hockey teams all won national championships last year. The triathlon team has won a national championship in 11 of the past 12 years, and the men’s hockey team finished undefeated in the regular season. The cycling team also had three members earn first place for individual race times.
“The club athletes take their competitions just as seriously as a varsity athlete,” said club sports Director Kris Schoech in a university press release. “They dedicate a lot of time to their sport, and that’s why we’ve been so successful.”
Most CU club sports teams require tryouts, so there is usually tough competition even before the season begins. The mountain biking, soccer and hockey team members are all picked based on tryouts.
“You’ve got to earn your spot. There’s no guarantees,” said Brian Hludzinski, director of the CU cycling team, adding that members of last year’s championship team must also work hard if they are to be included this year.
The cycling team includes mountain, road, track and cyclocross biking.
“You can’t just stack one event and win the national championships. You have to do well in all events, men and women,” Hludzinski said. “We’re always trying to recruit new members. There are just so many success stories.”
“It’s difficult to recruit women into athletic sports here at CU because many are unwilling to test their athletic ability at the collegiate level,” Hludzinski said. “But anyone can have huge potential if they are passionate about it. The culture here allows people with different motivations to succeed.”
This weekend the cycling team will compete in an event hosted by CSU at Beaver Meadows, just west of Fort Collins.
“Colorado teams basically rule the collegiate mountain biking scene,” Hludzinski said, adding that Fort Lewis is always tough competition.
In ice hockey, the men’s Division III team has quickly become one of the top teams in the country. The team joined the American Collegiate Hockey Association in 2002, and has gone from the bottom of their division to national champions since then.
The hockey team members must organize fundraisers for necessary equipment and travel costs, and last year they raised over $15,000 to attend the national championship tournament.
There are 34 club sports teams at CU with a total of about 1,500 student athletes, according to a university press release.