Club sports make a comeback from COVID-19

After not being able to compete last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, club sports are now able to compete as normal, with women’s club basketball even getting to travel to Nebraska.  


Jackson Kennedy, a junior mass communications major from Aurora, Illinois, and president of the Bass Master’s Fishing Club, said this is the first semester the team’s been active since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said last year, they weren’t allowed to travel, and had to get the club director's approval to participate in events within a 50 mile radius. In Spring 2021, they were only able to participate in one tournament.  


Kennedy said he’s thrilled to be back and able to participate without worrying about getting suspended. 


"I'm stoked that I'm able now, especially as President, I'm able to make the decisions that can benefit our team and bring kids to more tournaments,” Kennedy said. “We're getting new jerseys this year. We're able to get a very decent amount of money in terms of sponsorships from title sponsors for [local companies], along with companies back in certain club members’ hometowns. So, having the ability to now fish as much in Terms of [the] university letting us and then in terms of us being able to financially do it is awesome.” 


Kelly Cruise, a junior economics and psychology major from Havana, Illinois, and co-president of the women’s club basketball team, said they weren’t able to play any games last season, but that she forgot how much fun it is to actually play and have fans in the stands.  


"It's not fun to not get to compete in your sport, but we were really lucky because we had a really strong core team that stayed with us and practiced once a week every week, even though we weren't playing games,” Cruise said. “So to know that they were committed and dedicated was really awesome.” 


Cruise said the team is currently first in their league, so she’s excited for the chance to play in their league championship.  


"If we win that, then we advance on and might have a possibility to play in Pennsylvania for the national championship, so I think we're all really excited for that,” Cruise said. “We had a chance to do so my freshman year, but that was the year that [COVID-19] started and everything went downhill, so we didn't actually get to go up.”  


Kyndel Arthalony, a senior biological sciences major from Mason City, Illinois, said the women’s club basketball team will play either Iowa or Creighton in regionals.  


"They're both really good teams and they are fundamentally sound. They know what they're doing, and they're aggressive and they're tough. So no matter what team [we] play, we're definitely going to have to prepare and come into the game with the right mindset,” Arthalony said. 


Skyler Schafer, a junior elementary education major from Effingham, Illinois, and co-president of women’s club basketball, said the regionals match will be tough, especially since the team’s only loss this season was against Iowa.  


"We are really excited for the opportunity to hopefully get to play them again and see how it goes,” Schafer said.  


The team also had the chance to travel to Nebraska to compete. Kelsi Bales, a sophomore nursing major from Springfield, Illinois, said it was a great time for the team to bond.  


"I think the chemistry translates to the basketball court. We've had really good chemistry this year for a bunch of girls who pretty much have not played together. I think we've been able to come together well, and that's because of the opportunities that we get to travel places like Nebraska and we went to Mizzou so I think that’s really helped us,” Bales said.  


Schafer said the trip gave them an opportunity to bond that they haven’t had due to everyone’s busy schedules.  


"We played probably some of our best basketball. It was just the best. We shared the ball and had lots of good looks, and we finished our conference play with two wins so it was really good,” Schafer said.  


Schafer said she is hopeful that the team gets to travel to Pennsylvania, as it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.  


"This team has worked so good together. The scoring comes from everywhere and I think that's why we've been as successful as we have because our team just plays so well together and really there's not a lot of selfishness,” Schafer said. “All we really care about is our scores higher at the end of the game, so it's a great camaraderie to have in order to be as successful as we have been.”


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