Northwestern sophomores work to establish club softball team

Amy Whyte, Reporter

Northwestern has 39 club sports teams, ranging from soccer to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. But students interested in playing softball have been disappointed — until now.

Weinberg sophomore Emily Bacalao and Sarah Stumbras, a sophomore in Bienen and McCormick, are in the process of starting a club softball team at NU. The two played softball together in high school and said they were surprised to find NU did not already have a team.

“We just ran into each other one day and were just reminiscing about how much we missed playing,” Stumbras said. “So we thought, ‘Why not just go for it?'”

Bacalao said a lack of University funding for additional club sports prevented “one of the most popular female sports” from coming to NU. Only a limited number of groups are able to receive funding, so for a softball team to be included, at least one other team would have to disband, she said.

Strumbas said she approached Peter Parcell, director of sport clubs, before Spring Break about possibly forming a team. Bacalao and Stumbras are now lobbying for status as a conditional club, which means the team would be recognized by the University and able to participate in the National Club Softball Association. However, it would not receive University funding or have access to certain resources, such as club sports vans for transportation.

“It’s just about sticking around and showing that we’re serious enough,” Bacalao said. “It’s definitely trickier to organize, but we can still play.”

Bacalao and Stumbras have spent the last few weeks gaging interest in the team with Facebook promotions and word of mouth. Strumbas found Kim Riley, a graduate student at Loyola University of Chicago, online and hired her to coach two weeks ago. Riley has previously coached high school softball and played for a Division III team in Minnesota.

“The opportunity Sarah (Stumbras) offered me was very exciting,” Riley said. “There is a lot of talent here.”

Bacalao and Stumbras have also succeeded in getting equipment and uniforms donated to the team. They still have to raise money to pay for the NCSA entry fee, which Stumbras said will come partially from player dues. They also hope to raise more money through fundraising and donations.

Seventeen students came to tryouts Sunday. Four other students told Bacalao and Stumbras they were interested in playing but were unable to make tryouts. If all goes well, the team hopes to start playing games as early as this quarter.

“Best case scenario, we’ll play later this quarter against local schools like Loyola,” Bacalao said. “The main goal is just establishing the team.”