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Communications and Agricultural Education

Communications and Agricultural Education

Kansas State University
1612 Claflin Road
301 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3402

785-532-5633 fax

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

by Jamie Smidt

On the athletic spectrum, lingering between casual intramural sports and intense NCAA Division I athletics lie the 24 K-State club sports teams. Overlooked by many people on campus, club sports athletes spend hours practicing to compete against students at other colleges and universities. Three of these athletes are Catie Snyder, Dillon Stum and Alicia Thiessen, students in the College of Agriculture.


Snyder, student in agribusiness, began playing softball at age seven. She started on a community recreation league and then joined a traveling team. She also played on her high school softball team. Though she had an offer to play softball at Cloud County Community College, Snyder decided to come to K-State. “I’ve always been a wildcat,” she says. “I’ve always loved the purple and white.” A good friend asked Snyder to play on the club softball team her freshman year, an offer she politely declined. When the same friend asked again the next year, Snyder agreed to try it out.

“Now I’m really upset I didn’t play last year,” she says. “I ended up loving it. The girls are awesome. It’s just fun to be able to play ball again.” Snyder says the level of competition is high. The girls play nationally ranked teams, some of which have indoor facilities and practice every day. The K-State team is less formal, practicing only a few days a week when the weather is nice. Snyder says their coach is laid-back and encourages the girls to have a good time. “It is competitive, but we’re out there to enjoy ourselves and have fun,” Snyder says. The girls have games or tournaments about twice a month and have traveled as far as California, Virginia and Minnesota, but most of the games are closer to Manhattan.


Stum, agricultural economics student, joined the trapshooting team his freshman year at K-State. A farm kid who grew up hunting with his dad, he says when a friend convinced him to join the team – he felt right at home on the shooting range. The trapshooting team practices every Thursday evening at the Tuttle Creek Shooting Park. Practice begins when classes start, and most competitions are scheduled early in the fall semester and late in the spring semester. At the shooting park, there are five stations around each trap house from which the clay targets are released. Microphones are positioned on stands at each station. Team members gather around the houses, take aim and alternate calling “pull,” which signals the machines to release the clay pigeons.

Another team member stands behind the group, marking their accuracy rates on a clipboard. After three years on the team, Stum says he has greatly benefited from weekly practices. “It has helped my hunting skills,” he says with a grin. “Now I watch everyone else miss and laugh at them.” His ranking at competitions is further proof of improved shooting skills. At the April Association of College Unions International Clay Target Championships, the largest college shoot in the nation, Stum placed 32 out of 295 college students and the team placed third out of 38. In addition to team practices during the school year, Stum spends time shooting in the summer as well. After graduation from K-State, he plans to pursue a law degree, and always, he’ll continue competitive trapshooting.


Thiessen, agribusiness student, is co-captain of the Women’s Rugby Team. A fellow employee learned that Thiessen enjoyed rough sports, and recommended she try rugby. Thiessen was skeptical at first; she’d never seen a rugby match and was recovering from a recent knee surgery. “The first day I came out here, I thought it was really cool, but I didn’t think my body could handle it,” she says. “I’d just gone through my second ACL surgery. My doctor said I was never going to play contact sports again.” According to Thiessen, rugby is like football in continuous play, because the match only stops for penalties, time-outs Photo Courte sey of Al icia th iessen College of Agriculture students participate in K-State Club Sports by Jamie Smidt Take Me Out To The Ball Game Kansas State Agriculturist Fall 2008 31 and half-time. Her coach describes the game as “elegant violence,” she says.

“There is a position for every different sort of body-type. It’s also the best team sport; there isn’t a player that really stands out because you can’t do it without each other.” Thiessen says it takes a certain kind of person to play rugby – this sport is not for the weak or faint of heart. The coach tells the girls to make one big hit a game, advice Thiessen takes to heart. “I try to hit one person so they’re a little slow getting up,” She says. “You’ve got to be able to hit and take a hit.” Though she’s never been seriously injured from playing rugby, Thiessen did break her ankle from running incorrectly during a match. She has also had a number of minor injuries. “This past year the doctors at Lafene knew me on a first-name basis,” she says laughing. “I broke a finger, cracked a rib. I’ve been joking that by the time I reach 40 I’ll be in a wheelchair. But I’m still kicking. As long as I can keep going I’ll still play.”


Snyder, Stum and Thiessen agree the best parts of playing club sports are traveling and forming close friendships with teammates. They also say practice and competitions offer a muchneeded break from the daily grind of student life. “It’s relaxing to come out on a Thursday, hang out with the guys and shoot,” Stum says. “It’s fun to blow some targets up every week.” Thiessen actually lives with four of her Rugby teammates and the five of them plan to move into a larger house to be joined by two more teammates. Having a large house is convenient because it’s a rugby tradition for the home team to host a social for the visiting team after each game.

How to Join

Those interested in joining a club team should visit http://recservices. k-state.edu/sportclubs/ for more information. Listed on the site is contact information for the teams’ coaches and captains.

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