By Abigail Cloutier
A new sponsorship from Mercy Health is supporting the club and intramural sports scene by providing finances for equipment, jerseys and marketing opportunities.
The idea started when Mercy Health approached the Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center staff and said it wanted to have more collaboration with the center at Youngstown State University.
“We really liked the investment that they’re going to make in our students,” Ryan McNicholas, associate director of campus recreation, said.
Currently, club and intramural sports and Mercy Health are finalizing the sponsorship as a four-year deal.
McNicholas said they plan to use some of the funding on projects that would not otherwise be possible.
“This allows for other things to happen that we might not be able to necessarily get from just our expense expenditures. We can grow and do other things and expand what we already have on campus,” he said.
Some of those expansion plans include specific club sports, such as esports.
According to Dominique Sak, the coordinator of club sports and summer camps, esports is going to be the “next big thing.”
“We want to expand the Frost Penguins esports club by increasing participation and retention, allowing the student leaders to make decisions on behalf of the club and ultimately put them in a position to succeed through competitions and exposure,” she said.
Although the funding amount could not be disclosed, Sak said the sponsorship, which was finalized in January, is “quite a bit of a [dollar] amount.”
“Club sports uses quite a bit of equipment, and every sport is different. So between equestrian, bass fishing, ultimate Frisbee and women’s rugby, all those sports require different amounts and different kinds of equipment,” she said.
Sak said the sponsorship also requires club and intramural sports to provide a significant amount of marketing services with Mercy Health’s logo.
“They would like on jerseys [to be] their logo and anywhere else that we are able to market them,” she said. “We plan on having a banner at Cafaro Field, having a banner at the rec itself, [advertising] on social media, but really the deal is sponsor Mercy Health as often as we can.”
Although new jerseys are purchased as needed, some teams, like the men’s volleyball club, are already using their new jerseys on the court thanks to the sponsorship.
Kenneth Diogo, a senior computer science major and president of the men’s volleyball club, sees the sponsorship as a relief.
“One of the main primary concerns we had going into this semester as the season progressed was getting jerseys,” he said. “We thought we’d have to do fundraisers or just pool our money together in order to buy something. … But having it all paid for is super helpful and really took a lot off our shoulders as a club.”
Jerseys are important to Diogo as a marker of team unity and pride.
“I mean, it’s really one big pride thing to wear the YSU colors and have the YSU logo on there. It really just makes us look professional together as a team, so when we go out we can really represent YSU,” he said.