Every year, many UNC students participate in on-campus athletic activities, as Campus Recreation helps organize and promote 48 unique Sport Clubs programs and 21 fall intramural sports, along with many other opportunities for students to get exercise.
Some students get involved because they have played a certain sport all their life, while others might join a team to try something new. Either way, club and intramural opportunities allow UNC students to build relationships through athletics.
“I think that people just need and desire a sense of belonging with people with similar interests and enjoy the activity which they most likely already had some love for before college,” Tori Hooker, senior assistant director of sport programs, said. “That sense of belonging, that sense of community that comes with being on a club sport, it fulfills a need for students.”
After the pandemic halted many activities last year, there has been an uptick in student participation interest this semester. However, this increase in involvement has created new challenges.
Hooker said that one of the main problems has been spacing, as Campus Recreation staff handles practices and matches for dozens of sports and activities across campus.
“We do need more facility space," Hooker said. "And compared with peer-schools and other ACC schools, we don’t have the facility space that we need for this population of students."
The lack of facility space has also meant that club teams sometimes share space with other organizations around campus. Sophomore Matt Warren, a club rugby player, said this has made practices frustrating at times.
“We practice at Navy Field and the band practices the same as us, and it is quite annoying at times because it makes it very difficult to hear the coach and hear instructions,” Warren said. “We don’t have to share the field, but it does make it difficult to practice and concentrate when you have a very loud band practicing 50 meters away.”
To compensate for the lack of available practice space, Campus Recreation has been taking advantage of an agreement with the school's athletic department, which allows some club teams to share facilities with the University's varsity programs.
“We have a joint facility agreement with the athletic department which is almost unheard of across the nation," Bill Goa, director of Campus Recreation said. "They allow us to utilize a lot of their outdoor facilities that varsity athletes utilize.”
Although Campus Recreation plans to expand its athletic facilities in the near future, these proposals have been put on hold while the University tries to manage budgetary challenges caused by the pandemic.
A tentative idea of expanding the Student Recreation Center and Fetzer Hall has been discussed, Goa said, but funding still needs to be coordinated.
“It’s going to take a combined effort of donations and sponsorships," Goa said. "There would have to be an increase of student fees somehow, so there are a lot of sources of funding, but it’s going to take the coordination of that to facilitate a multi-million dollar recreational facility.”
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