This fall, UT is offering two new Recreational Sports-sponsored clubs to students: field hockey and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
All RecSports-affiliated clubs begin as student organizations. If a group meets certain listed requirements, it can apply to become sponsored by the University through RecSports. Chad Zimmerman, senior assistant director at RecSports, said the sponsorship offers the clubs publicity, advising, access to practice space, funding and clearance to use UT trademarks.
“You become part of the University,” Zimmerman said. “The University assumes responsibility for your activities. They support and endorse you.”
Ellen Alley, president and founder of the field hockey team, said she missed playing sports with her friends when she came to UT and was disappointed to learn there was not a field hockey club to join.
“I definitely missed it,” said Alley, a Plan II, human dimensions of organizations and sociology junior. “I wasn’t working out a lot and I wanted to meet new people.”
Last fall, Alley and her friends decided to start a field hockey student organization. Since then, she has been working with RecSports to turn her organization into a sponsored club to increase publicity and funding.
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu team, which has been a student organization since 2005, gained sponsorship with the help of team president Rusty Summers.
Summers, a pharmacy doctoral student, said he wanted to apply for sponsorship from RecSports because he saw the jiu-jitsu organization often struggled to find regular practice space and was forced to share equipment with other groups.
“That’s why it was important to me to take it to the next level and get RecSports sponsorship — so that we would be able to maintain that regular schedule,” Summers said.
Alley said she is eager to recruit students and urge them and try something new, whether they are experienced athletes or not.
“You don’t have to have any skill or talent,” Alley said. “We won’t judge you at all.”
With this sponsorship, Summers said the jiu-jitsu team will be taken “much more seriously.”
“We want to be accessible and approachable,” Summers said. “We want to have legitimacy as competitive, combative athletes, but we also want someone who has never played a sport to feel comfortable walking up and saying, ‘Hey, can I play?’”