By John Stran and Chris McBride
Joseph Anastasia steps onto the ice. His padding, along with the extra height he gets from being on skates, makes his appearance dominant.
To the right of Anastasia is his mother and to the left, his father. Being on the ice with his namesake is ritual for a player’s final game.
Anastasia played the wing position for the Youngstown State University Hockey Club up until the spring. Graduating next fall, he opted out of playing another semester.
He is just one of many YSU students who has or is participating in club sports at the university. Other club sports on campus include women’s rugby, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s soccer and volleyball, wrestling, fencing, bowling and ultimate frisbee.
According to SGA member, Dylan Anders, the number of club sports on campus has grown since YSU President Jim Tressel has arrived on campus.
Anders said Tressel improved funding for club sports by qualifying them as student organizations, which gives them the opportunity to apply for money from student government.
Athletes participating in club sports have to pay various prices to participate. Anastasia said when he started playing YSU hockey, his dues ran him around $1,500 and his most recent year was $1,200, which he is still paying.
Other club sports dues are not has high.
In the basement of the Beeghly center lies room 119, a room with a high ceiling, white walls and a hardwood floor. The space is used by many club sports at YSU, one being fencing.
One Friday, a group of five gets a late start to fencing practice and starts their 4 to 6 practice slot complaining about the lack of participants for that day.
The coach of the club, Jonathan Markovich is a recent graduate of YSU. He explained the history of the sport and how the history plays a part in the rules of fencing.
One of these rules was turning one’s back to an opponent. History says turning your back to an opponent is a sign of disrespect and so the rule still stands today: a turned back means a yellow card or warning.
Markovich said fencing was popular in the area in the 1970’s and 1980’s and then took a steady decline in popularity. He said since around 2009, the sport has been steadily coming back and seems to be remaining alive.
Caroline Lacusky is the president of the fencing club. She said the fencing team came back from hiatus just a few years ago. Her want to fence came from her need to try something new.
“It’s like nothing I’ve ever done before,” Lacusky said.
The team does not necessarily play other schools but they do compete in tournaments were other fencing teams may be.
The tournaments they are a part of are not limited to just students.
Markovich said the tournaments can be entered by anyone from ages 12 to 70.
“Yeah, one time I got my ass kicked by a 60 year old.” Lacusky said.
YSU’s hockey team who also reformed recently in 2015, plays other schools. They also play other colleges whose hockey teams are classified as a collegiate sport. Their last game of the season was against Cleveland State at their home rink, Deep Freeze in Boardman; a bout in which they lost 5-6.
One of the fencing club’s recent travels was to Cleveland for a tournament. This is where SGA plays a part in funding. They have the ability to fund an organization’s specific event.
“If a team says ‘Hey we’re going to Purdue and it’s going to cost us $1,000 to enter the tournament and $100 for a rental van,’ we can fund all of this,” Anders said.
But Anders also said club sports at YSU are not traditionally funded through campus recreation but they do try to assist the teams, helping them fill out travel documents and find their budgets.
The problem is they can’t give money to help pay for equipment. Anders said funding for any student organization, not just club sports, is limited to about $4,600 dollars for an entire year.
Lacusky and Anders both spoke of a plan in the works to give club sports their own separate funding, making it possible to receive a little more.
Lacusky said funding from SGA currently isn’t always strong, so the funding falls on them. Their main sources of income are through fundraisers and restaurant takeovers.
The fencing club itself offers some gear for those who want to participate, but Lacusky said most like to use their own.
Lacusky said the three variations of swords in the sport — foil, epee and sabre — all cost around $50 and the group often finds themselves replacing them once they bend and break.
The dues for fencing are less than the hockey teams, which Lacusky said are anywhere from $25 to $30.
Lacusky said her hope is that more people join the fencing club, but she fears that this would mean funding would be placed more on the student and their price to participate would increase. With just enough equipment to support everyone on the team currently, newcomers would have to supply their own.
She also said she hopes that the sport receives a little more attention on campus, but not too much.
“I want there to be a happy middle ground,” Lacusky said. “Usually when I tell people I’m the president of the fencing club, they reply by saying they didn’t know we had a fencing club.”
The underground feel of fencing at the university is something that attracted some to it.
“I chose fencing because it’s not the normal thing to do,” said fencer Brianna Owoc. “I’m not really a sports person, but this isn’t like a regular sport.”
Fencing is a year-round sport, so the group will continue to practice and scope out tournaments. Anastasia and the hockey team finished their season 0-18-1, a sort of added testament that there must be real passion for the game the game amongst these players.