Track club eager to take on competition

By Jimmy Johnson

Ragtag and scrappy; that’s how the NIU track club described itself.

Once they arrived in Champaign for the U of I Club Relay Friday, the Huskies quickly noticed they were far different from their competition.

“Going down there, all these teams have uniforms, warmups and bags,” said Taylor Dupre, sophomore and NIU track club secretary. “There are just 20 of us and an assortment red and white Under Armor.”

This is the life of a first-year club team.

Alex Fitch, NIU lacrosse vice president, said that club teams are not allowed get supplemental funding from the Student Association in their first two years of existence.

“The whole point behind is that you prove you can remain alive as an organization without them wasting money on you,” Fitch said. “The Catch-22 is that it’s hard to survive without the funding…sink or swim. We’re trying to swim as hard as we can.”

Even without typical uniforms and funding, it didn’t stop NIU from taking second place at the U of I Club Relay.

“U of I knew about us,” said David Goings, sophomore and NIU track club president. “But when they announced second place Northern Illinois, and we have Wisconsin and Michigan look over at us like, ‘What the heck; who are they?’ So, we definitely surprised a few teams.”

Goings, Fitch and Dupre all said they were recruited by D-II and D-III schools for their track and field teams. However, all four had the desire to go to a “bigger school.”

“When I got here, a huge drawback was not having a track team,” Fitch said. “We decided to start it ourselves and try and see where we can go with it and how far we can go with it.”

While their title associates them as a club, Fitch said it hasn’t stopped them from competing at a higher level.

“We want to be competitive at the college level,” Fitch said. “We want to see what we can do against them. It’s just not the club level…it’s nice, but we want to do our best against actual college competition.”