Quinnipiac teams up with students to expand club sports with women’s ice hockey and women’s basketball

June 03, 2024

New club sports expansion for women's ice hockey and basketball

Quinnipiac administrators has teamed up with some dedicated students to expand the Bobcat competitive club sports universe with two new offerings starting this fall: women’s ice hockey and women’s basketball.

The exciting additions are among 23 team options now offered to students seeking a club sports experience, said Associate Director of Recreation John Somers.

“I think it’s a huge testament to the university’s commitment to recreation to offer these opportunities for students,” said Somers.

More competitive than intramurals, but not requiring the same commitment as NCAA sports, Quinnipiac club sports match teams up against students from colleges and universities throughout the region.

University funds and university-sponsored donor funds contribute to club sports team operational costs and club sports players are supported medically by staff athletic trainers. Training, practices and home games utilize Quinnipiac’s elite training and athletic facilities.

“One of the most rewarding parts for me is seeing parents come out when we host games on campus,” said Somers.  “A lot of them thought they would never get to see their kids compete again. The parents are super grateful for these opportunities.”

Developed in association with the Student Government Association (SGA) and with input from students, Quinnipiac Club Sports programming was founded five years ago and underwent a major expansion in 2021.

Beginning last year, with assistance from SGA President J.P. DiDonato '25, JD '28, students Gabriella Ponzo ’27, Maeve Campbell ’27 and Karissa Leclair ’27, took on the challenge of building momentum to further expand club offerings.

In addition to DiDonato’s assistance, the students received feedback and guidance from Somers and other Quinnipiac administrative team members, including Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Matt Kurz and Chief Experience Officer Tom Ellett.

Ponzo, Campbell and Leclair are communications majors who skated with competitive ice hockey teams as youth and high school players. Ponzo said she was considering playing women’s ice hockey at another university but stuck with Quinnipiac due to its strong communications program and the supportive framework the university provided aligning with her goal to help club sports expand to include women’s ice hockey.

“Quinnipiac is the place that I’m meant to be at and I wasn’t about to give up the opportunities that I have here. So I’m really glad it worked out,” said Ponzo.

Ponzo began the effort on her own at first and was joined by Campbell and Leclair during the 2023-2024 academic year.

“We were just really driven because this was something we all wanted. We realized this would have to be 100 percent student led and we just put the work in,” said Leclair.

“I was pushing for a long time on my own and then it really came together with Maeve and Karissa. I couldn’t have done it without the help of those women,” said Ponzo. “The three of us really worked hard to help make this happen.”

“We really wanted to advocate for adding a women’s club ice hockey team,” said Campbell. “It was awesome to see the best scenario come out of it. I wanted to come to Quinnipiac for my education, but now it’s really awesome to also be able to play hockey.”

The first step was to set up a new student organization, Quinnipiac Club Sports Expansion, for which Ponzo serves as president and Campbell and Leclair are executive board members.  One of the first efforts of the new student organization was to develop student surveys to gauge interest in the types of club sports Bobcats were looking for, said Ponzo.

“We got a lot of responses and lists with interested students and the two main sports were women’s hockey and women’s basketball,” said Ponzo.

Lily Penner ’27, a psychology major, has taken the student lead on the club sports women’s basketball team. She said she offered to get involved because she was looking for a competitive, fun way to play.

“Club sports sounded like so much fun and I thought if I could help it get off the ground, that would be really cool,” said Penner.

Somers said one of the key benefits for students heading up Quinnipiac club sports is exposure to valuable advisement which promotes student leadership development.

“They really are student-run teams. We try to let the students do all of the scheduling of the games, figuring out what league they want to be in and doing their own budgeting,” said Somers. “That’s probably the biggest piece they walk away with at the end of it all. They wind up being club sports officers and they get some serious skills.”

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