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Cardinal Courier

Cardinal Courier

The Student News Site of St. John Fisher University

Cardinal Courier

Club Basketball Introduced at St. John Fisher University

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Team photo of the womens’ club team

A new sports opportunity has entered the ring at St. John Fisher University; club basketball, which features a men’s team and a women’s team. The club will join hockey and baseball as the three opportunities Fisher offers for club sports. Leading the charge are Club President Brendan Evans, Vice President Adam Jones and Treasurer Jenna Hoffman, whom I had the opportunity to speak with about the creation of the club.

For those that don’t know what a club sport is, it’s a sport available at a college or university that students and a club advisor typically run. Club teams are not a part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), but still have organized and competitive games. Think of it as a middle ground between intramural sports and junior varsity sports at college. Students often join club teams because school-sanctioned sports can be a big time commitment. 

When Evans started the idea for club basketball at Fisher, he brought Hoffman onto the project due to her prior speech to student government. In this speech, she talked about how junior varsity and club opportunities were more plentiful to men than women. “If you look at the statistics from the [athletics] website you’ll see that there are three JV sports opportunities for men,” Hoffman said. She went on to explain that these three JV sports combined with the two pre-existing club sports make it a 5:1 ratio for non-varsity sports for women at Fisher, with their lone opportunity being JV womens’ soccer.

Hoffman’s passion for more sport opportunities for women at Fisher fueled her work on the project of club basketball. She was appointed captain of the women’s team by Evans and was first tasked with generating interest in the club. Her outreach strategy was simple: word of mouth. “I’d reach out to some girls just walking around the commons, I’d go around and just say ‘hey are you interested in playing a women’s club sport?”’ 

Jenna Hoffman (left) poses with Mary Marrapese (right)

Through this method, Hoffman was able to get around 30 girls with an interest in playing. After talking with Brooke Chase, who is the Director of Student Life and Organizations, the next step for the club was their involvement plan. “The involvement plan means, what other events are you gonna host on campus that are open to everyone?” Hoffman explained. Ideas for the involvement plan include collaborating with Best Buddies to host a Unified game, a students vs. professors fundraiser, and a March Madness party. 

Once the involvement plan was in place, the club finished its bylaws and became an SGA-certified club. They also found their advisor in Dr. Zach Murphy, who is a biology professor at Fisher. Their next hurdle was funding for the club, to which Hoffman, Evans and Jones had to make a presentation. The group presented to the Special Case Financial Committee and was then able to get funds for the club.

The club now needed to find a home, and they decided on the National Club Basketball Association which includes teams from all over the country ranging from Division III to Division I schools. Hoffman explained that teams have conference and non-conference games. For example, Fisher plays Canisius who is in the North Atlantic-West conference with them, but can also choose to play Syracuse who is in a separate conference.

After paying the league dues, it was time to determine the rosters. Tryouts were held and the women’s team saw 25 girls show up with 18 of them committed to traveling. The final roster ended up being an easy decision for Hoffman as NCBBA rules state that the maximum roster size is 18 players. “We didn’t need to make any cuts, we just took the 18 that said ‘I’ll be at every game, I’ll be committed,’” she said.

Although the rosters are already set and the 18 players on both teams will be the ones participating in games, Hoffman reiterated the inclusivity of the club. “Anyone is welcome to come to practice each week. You don’t even have to have come to tryouts, this is open to anyone,” she stated. 

Despite having a roster of 18 players, Hoffman has a goal of getting everyone in the game. In turn, the team has already gelled early in the season. “I don’t play the whole game, there’s no girl that plays the whole game. We all substitute in and out, and everyone is so understanding of it.” Hoffman went on to say, “If someone is up for a three, we are all standing up smiling and clapping, we have the three’s up on our hands, and we’re so excited for our teammates.”

Coaches Ryan Sheck (left) and Jacob Marshall (right)

Another unique aspect of club basketball is that the men’s and women’s teams practice together. Hoffman explained that most practices will open with drills that both teams do together such as shooting drills, 11-man and three-man weave, and then the teams separate to focus on 5v5 and practice plays.

Above all, the club values respect, teamwork, and opportunity for all. Hoffman explained that with both teams coming together, they have a lot of respect for each other and have become close. “Not only are you making friends with one team, but you’re also making friends with a community full of people who love basketball no matter what your gender is,” she said.

Hoffman’s goals for the club in the rest of her time at Fisher are to continue to build interest and to compete for the NCBBA national championship. “The league championship is actually in Virginia, so it would be amazing if we win our league and have that opportunity to travel to Virginia,” she said.

The women’ team celebrate their first win

At the time of publication, both teams had already played their first games. On Nov. 12, the men’s team split a two-game series with the University of Rochester, while the women’s team beat Oswego but lost to Brockport in an all-day tournament. 

 

 

 

To keep up with the inaugural season of club basketball at Fisher, you can follow them on Instagram. Anyone interested in practicing with a team can join the club on the Cardinal Hub, or check the Instagram for the practice schedule and simply show up to a practice.

 

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About the Contributor
Nick Kehoe, Sports Editor
Nick Kehoe is a junior Sport Management major. He is currently the Sports Editor for the Courier. Nick also writes game recaps as well as student-athlete spotlights. He hopes to write for a professional baseball team after graduating. Nick Kehoe ’25 – Cardinal Courier (cardinalcouriersjf.com)
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