In intercollegiate club sports, there are no scholarships, no crowds and little adult leadership.
University funding is minimal – barely existent at times – but hard work and devotion from athletes is abundant. Despite the adoration and recognition of NCAA teams, club sports are the epitome of athletes playing for the love of the game.
The average college student was likely a member of their high school’s athletic teams, but the opportunity to continue that sport usually stops once they arrive at their college or university. At least that is the case for Greg Palazzo, a junior at Hofstra University and a third -year member of the Hofstra club baseball team.
“I came to college with hopes of playing for the varsity team, but with classes it wasn’t a realistic opportunity for me,” Palazzo said. “I heard about joining the team at orientation, our organization has a table at each session of orientation where older members talk to incoming freshman about the benefits and experience gained by joining the team.”
The commitment and accountability for the club team is dependent upon each player. The team plays two seasons each year – fall and spring. Practices usually take place two times per week, every Wednesday and Friday, on the intramural field. During the weekends the team’s schedule maintains a double-header every Saturday and then one game on Sunday.
During the winter offseason, the team practices and meets with former Major League pitcher Fred Cambria to work on fundamentals. The team has been around for six years, and such a commitment has led the team to the College World Series twice, and they might be destined for a third trip this season.
When it comes to financing the team, Palazzo explained the Student Government Association allocates money for the team but most of the money is generated through each player’s dues, which are $200 for the whole year. The team also holds fundraisers to help raise money for the team. Each player is required to fill out a donation sheet which is sent out to family and friends in hopes for donations and we also have a golf tournament in fall.
Hofstra’s division is split into two sections, the North and the South. The Pride play in the South along with the College of New Jersey, Rider, NYU and Penn. The North division includes Northeastern, Fordham, Sacred Heart, Montclair State, Munroe College and SUNY-New Paltz.
Most of the games are played locally, the furthest point being in Pennsylvania. But for the College Club Baseball World Series, this year’s championship is in Columbus, Ga.
“Since I’ve been on the team we’ve been one of the top D2 in the nation, finishing last year at a ranking of fourth,” Palazzo said. “This season we are off to a fast start at 7-0 and have climbed the rankings to No. 2 in the nation. We have high expectations for our ball club and obviously winning the series and being No. 1 in the nation is our ultimate goal.”