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Club teams set goals for seasons

Club rugby and sailing teams rank in national top 10, while frisbee team looks to rebuild

Participating in collegiate athletics is a large time commitment, with student-athletes devoting many hours each week to practice, competitions at home and travel. But it is not just varsity athletes who make this commitment — students who compete at the club level also devote significant time to their sports. Though many of Brown’s club teams are among the school’s most successful athletic organizations — some are even among the best in the country — many said they feel their profiles on campus do not measure up to their achievements.

Vanessa Flores-Maldonado ’14, a flanker on the women’s rugby team, said her squad considers this lack of awareness unfortunate, but she added that the players participate out of love for the game.

“We still recognize each other and the hard work that we put in,” Flores-Maldonado said. “Sometime at the end of the day, that’s good enough for us.”



The men’s rugby squad is currently ranked tenth in the country, the best ranking it has held in years, said Daniel Tonderys ’14. Tonderys added that only two years ago, the squad lost 105-7 to Dartmouth, a loss he said was the low point of his collegiate rugby experience. But the team has bounced back, he said. The team has grown from the roughly 20 members it had when he was a first-year to the nearly 50 it has now, and the players are more committed and skilled, he said.

“My grade has a lot of experienced guys on the team,” Tonderys said. “And definitely better leadership and better accountability for coming out to practice. And, honestly, the recruiting has gotten so much better.”

The squad mostly plays other Ivy League schools and teams from Massachusetts and Rhode Island. But over spring break, it will travel to the Bahamas to compete.

Tonderys said the team’s goal for the year is to make it to the national championship starting Jun. 1 in Philadelphia and to continue acquiring talented players.

The women’s rugby team has been consistently successful for a number of years — winning the Ivy League title for seven years running and appearing in national semifinal games in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Currently, the team is ranked third in the nation.

The women’s team has unsuccessfully been seeking varsity status for several years, The Herald previously reported. Gaining this status would limit the team’s reliance on alumni donations and other fundraising efforts. Most college women’s rugby teams are club-designated, though a few are varsity, including Harvard’s, which was granted this standing last year.

In the fall, women’s rugby only lost one match. The squad’s goal is to break past the Final Four and win the Ivy League championship for the eighth consecutive year, Flores-Maldonado said.



Brownian Motion, the men’s frisbee team, won national championships in 2000 and 2005, but over the past few years, has not been as successful. Austin Mertz ’14, who has been on the team since his first year at Brown, said the club is now “sort of in the rebuilding phase.”

The team, Mertz said, wants to find its way back to its earlier success, though it also has more moderate  dreams.

“I think the goal is always to get back to nationals and reclaim our rightful place atop the college rankings,” Mertz said. “But I guess making it to sectionals and winning sectionals and doing well in regionals is a fairly consistent annual goal.”

Matt Barnes ’13, a member of Brownian Motion’s “A” squad, said although he feels the team is “fairly well-known” on campus, he thinks it does not get the same recognition varsity teams do. Members of the “A” squad dedicate 15 to 20 hours to their sport each week over six days, in addition to extra time spent in the weight room, Barnes said. He added that it would be a good thing for students to realize club athletes play at a high level. Just because club athletes do not have a varsity label “doesn’t make them any less of a team or any less of a sport, ” Barnes said.

Similar to the men’s squad, the women’s team — Disco Inferno — is not in the midst of its most successful season, said Aimie Kawai ’14, who has been on the squad for three years. But Kawai added that the University has increased the team’s funding in recent years. Though the team must still fundraise on its own — similar to other club sports at Brown — the University pays for most of its expenses, Kawai said.

This season, the team’s goals are to do well at regionals and to improve its “cohesiveness,” she said.



Brown has both a co-ed and a women’s sailing team, each of which is ranked in the top 10 nationally. The team had a successful season last year and competed in all three of the national championship events — women’s, team racing and fleet racing. Tommy Fink ’13, a former captain, said the team’s goal for this season is to qualify for all three nationals again. The team thinks it has a “good chance” to win at least one of the three events, Fink said.

Though sailing is a club sport, its funding, much of which comes from the University, is on par with other squads across the country, Fink said. “The teams that have more funding and more support tend to do better,” he added.

The team practices in Cranston four times a week for between three and four hours each day.

“We’re all really good friends,” Fink said. “Within our team, you have a microcosm of the University. And it’s really cool to see all those interests try to come together and compete as one unit.”

Similar to the other club athletes, Fink said he believes his team does not compete for recognition and while the team’s members would “be excited if more people knew about” their achievements, the sailing team is fine with the amount of attention it currently has.

“I don’t necessarily think we’re looking for more recognition from the student body,” Fink said. “We enjoy what we do and we think it’s really cool.”


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