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Sport Club Alumni: A Look Back

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The Sport Club Program provides opportunities for students to participate in recreational and competitive non-varsity sports with an emphasis on student development. During the 2014–15 academic year, over 0,000 students participated in 00 different clubs sponsored by the Division of Recreational Sports. Many of these students held leadership positions, requiring them to be directly responsible for the formation, development, government and administration of each club, including the management of all club finances. Time management, peer communication, travel planning and logistics, and developing budgets are all skills they learned as a result of this experience.

Sport Club Alumni Share Their Life Lessons Learned
Men’s Rugby

Chris Cronn, ’02, who found his niche with Men’s Rugby as a sophomore, says, “The decision to play rugby would wind up changing the rest of my college career and my life.” For starters, he was named team captain his senior year. He says, “Rugby taught me invaluable life lessons including discipline, work ethic and perseverance.” Today, as a lobbyist and government affairs executive he says he utilizes numerous life and business skills he learned as a rugby player including leadership, humility, equality, adaptability, a sense of purpose and, most importantly, the value of teamwork. Chris still plays rugby and is involved with alumni who live all over the world.

Sammy Abdullah, ’05, says, “Being president of the (Men’s) Rugby club was a tremendous experience and a lot more that I expected. Probably the single most important thing I learned was how to prioritize things.” Sammy was responsible for club finances including insurance, registration fees and travel expenses. He also worked with RecSports administrators, players, coaches and the USA governing body. “I learned how to work with people. Being flexible and accommodating were the keys (to success),” he says. Today Sammy co-manages a small venture capital fund and still plays rugby in Dallas. 

UT Dance

Brooke Carpin, ’07, considers herself a RecSports aficionado because of the variety of ways she was involved with the Division. She was a member of the UT Dance Team, she worked part-time in the RecSports Programs Office, she taught fitness classes and she served on several committees. As captain of the Dance Team she says, “The number one thing I learned was peer leadership and how to separate your personal and professional sides. I’m thankful that I was able to develop that ability in college so that I was prepared for the workplace.” Today, Brooke works at a Chicago department store chain as a retail design consultant.

Women’s Volleyball

Kristin (Durant) DeAngelo, ’09, was a member of the women’s Volleyball Club team that won three consecutive national championships from 2005–07. She says, “Being a team member required cooperation, collaboration and compromise. As club president, it was all that and more.”  Being responsible for 40 women on two teams taught her to think outside of just herself. “I learned that resolving conflict involved a lot of listening and little talking,” she says. Kristin earned her master’s of education degree in sports administration at the University of Arkansas in 2011 and is employed there as the assistant director for fitness center operations.

Men’s Lacrosse

Ernst Leiss, ’08, who served as president of Men’s Lacrosse, says, “Managing the club's $100,000 budget helped prepare me for my first project in the oil and gas industry where I was responsible for a million dollar budget.” He added, “Similarly, the challenges of time management and working with various people such as teammates, coaches, UT RecSports advisors, shed light on working in industry where stakeholders vary from your colleagues and supervisor to business partners and government regulatory agencies.”  Ernst works for Chevron as a repair supervisor in Bakersfield, CA.

Men’s Soccer

Jim Hannesschlager, ’03, as team captain and club president for Men’s Soccer, says, “I learned many skills such as time management, budget management, relationship management and people management while overseeing the daily operations of two club soccer teams.” He adds, “This classic trial by fire experience would be crucial in my first job and would also carry me through today.” Jim currently works for the U.S. Soccer Foundation in Washington, DC where he interacts with grantees and adds value to corporate partnerships. He says, “Had I not had the opportunity to mix my passion with the need to learn these skills less emphasized in much academia, I can quite confidently say that it would be difficult for me to be competitive in today's job market. But perhaps more importantly, were it not for the opportunity the RecSports club soccer provided, I would not have made many of the life long friendships and connections that I enjoy today.”