Students find friendship, develop skills in club sports

By Alex Rostowsky

David Hug never had any experience climbing until he started college three years ago.

Now Hug, a senior from Waterloo studying forest recreation, is the president of the SIU climbing club and scales bluffs as much as possible.

The climbing club is just one of 41 registered sports clubs offered by the university. The clubs are a way for students to continue participating in sports they grew up playing, or any individual who wants to learn a new sport.


Sports clubs differ from intramural sports because the clubs are organized and funded by officers and students. Sports club teams are also eligible to play clubs from other universities, while intramural athletes only play against other SIU students.

Hug said he embraces the friendships he has gained with members of the club, as well as the diversity amongst its members.

“There are so many different people from so many walks of life. They all bring great personalities to it,” he said.

Hug said he wants the new members of the club to fall in love with climbing as he has over the past few years. He plans to take the club to areas in the Shawnee National Forest such as Jackson Falls, Lake Kinkaid, Fern Clyfee and Cedar Lake.

“I want to show them why southern Illinois is beautiful,” Hug said.

Tommy Lafontaine, a freshman from Bloomingdale studying aviation, said he joined the men’s soccer club seeking friendship as well.

“(I want) close relationships with friends through the team and to better myself in the game of soccer,” he said.


Jared Rosine, men’s soccer club president, has played the game for more than 10 years. This year will be his third with the club.

Rosine, a senior from Strasburg studying sports management, previously played at the collegiate level at Rend Lake College. Since joining the club, Rosine said he has watched it progress.

“(I enjoy) the way I’ve watched it grow from a team of misfits to an organized team that’s very competitive,” he said.

Vijaya Kollipara, like Hug, did not have much experience in his sport before he started college. Kollipara, a graduate student in mining

engineering from Hydrabad, India, said he never played badminton before coming to the United States. Now, after three – and – a – half years with the club, he is the president.

Kollipara said the club has around 35 members now, but he hopes to see the number reach 50 or 60. It has had more than 100 members in past years, according to the badminton club website. He said he is striving for more diversity amongst the club.

“Most of the club members are from India, Malaysia and China,” he said. “What I’m trying to do this year is get more Americans involved.”

Kollipara said he has many objectives for the club this season, including to watch beginners progress and reach out to other schools to set up tournaments.

Badminton members compete against one another in the club. Kollipara said he has contacted representatives from Saint Louis University to set up a tournament between the two clubs.

Dan Unes is also in his first semester as president of an SIU club. He is the head of the men’s rugby club, which he has been a member of for four years.

This year, the club joined the newly formed Gateway Conference with other Division II rugby squads — Central Missouri State University, Missouri S&T, Principia College, Saint Louis University, University of Missouri-Kansas City and Washington University in St. Louis.

“Our goal is to win the conference,” Unes said. “If we win the conference playoff, we should have a bid right into the sweet 16 in nationals.”

Unes, a senior from Peoria studying mechanical engineering, said a lot of the rugby players enjoy the game because they get to hit someone on the play field — something they might not have done since their high school football days.

He said this year’s club is comprised of players who came back from last year, as well as a group of athletic freshmen.

“It’s a fun game,” Unes said. “There’s a lot of social activity involved. Rugby has a lot of traditions.”

Students interested in additional sports club information can contact Shane Bennett, assistant director of intramural sports and sports clubs, at [email protected] or 453-1295.