Posted February 24, 2016
For the past 14 years, not a single game of baseball has been played at a competitive level by the UW-River Falls Falcons. One student has set out to change that.
Freshman Aaron Mamer stepped into Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Gregg Heinselman’s office the first week of the spring semester with the idea to start a baseball club on campus.
Mamer had heard that Heinselman had a history in baseball and was looking for someone to be the advisor for a new club.
“Aaron popped into my office, probably the first week of classes this semester, and said, ‘I understand you’re the guy I need to talk to about starting a baseball club,'” Heinselman said. Mamer could not be reached for comment.
With a history of 50 years with the sport, some spent playing and some spent coaching, Heinselman is familiar with what it takes to have a baseball team, and agreed to come on board.
However, the process to become a sports club is quite the lengthy ordeal.
Ryan Rudesill, assistant director of Campus Recreation, said it can take years to be able to go from idea to reality.
“The process to become a sport club can be long but rewarding for dedicated students who are interested in starting a new club,” he said in an email interview. “From start to finish, it can take over three years to go from an idea of starting a club to a full status sport club.”
To achieve such a title the group of interested students first has to become a recognized student organization (RSO). This occurs through the approval from the Student Involvement Office and then Student Senate. So far, Mamer has succeeded in getting the baseball club approved by both.
Next, the RSO has to meet with Rudesill to go over the basic questions a sports club would have to face to see if the club is feasible. If all checks out, the RSO has to remain as such for one full academic year, and then it can apply to be a sports club.
After being accepted as a sports club, the group has to begin with no annual budget, but is able to raise money it may need to join a league. In January of its first year as a sports club, the group can request a budget for the following year.
According to Heinselman, during his 11 years on the UWRF campus there have been two other attempts at starting a baseball club. Neither attempt got past finding an advisor, and thus were unsuccessful. However, he said that Mamer has a lot of energy and is motivated to seeing this attempt through.
“From a student development standpoint I give him a lot of credit for saying, ‘Hey this doesn’t exist here. I think there’s interested individuals in this opportunity. Why don’t I lead as a first-year student?'” Heinselman said.
If the baseball club were to get approved, the organization would have its work cut out for it in terms of getting everything ready to hit the field.
First, it would need to find a space to practice and play. Because there is no UWRF baseball field, the club would either need to partner with the city or the public schools.
Next, the club would have to be accepted into a league. There is a National Club Baseball Association (NCBA) for college club teams. Wisconsin falls into the Great Lakes West conference, which is made up of six teams already, according to the NCBA website. There are 24 conferences across the nation that are comprised of teams from Division I to Division III schools.
The club’s season would run the month of October, and then from March until mid-May. If the team were to win the conference, there is also a regional tournament and a world series.
Despite all the obstacles in the way, Heinselman said he wants everyone to look at Mamer’s effort in one way.
“Take a step back and say, ‘This is how our club sports are supposed to work. This is how students are supposed to engage,'” he said. “It’s kind of neat to see that play out that way so far.”
If it continues to play out that way, Mamer could be one of the first players wearing a UWRF baseball jersey to step on the field and bring baseball back to the Falcons.