Tag Archives: J.P. Gale

Athletic Allegiance

The Sport Clubs program at California State University, Northridge is unlike many others because it offers so many students the chance to take part in an activity they’re interested in, to challenge themselves, and to build friendships.

“We have kind of approached ours a little differently,” CSUN Sport Clubs Manager John Paul Gale said. “A lot of schools’ sport clubs fall underneath student affairs, or in our case what would’ve been the Matador Involvement Center, but we have a department through the Associated Students explicitly for sport clubs.”

CSUN’s Sport Clubs program has more staffing than other schools, too. While most universities have only one full-time staff member, CSUN has four, according to Gale.

“We also have two full-time athletic trainers, an athletic training room, a weight room dedicated explicitly for sport clubs participants, which is very unique,” Gale said. “We are one of the few schools in the country who has that.”

The Sport Clubs program gives students the opportunity to compete regionally and nationally, allowing students to represent their school, and demonstrate their school spirit.

“We do perform very well,” said CSUN Sport Clubs Graduate Assistant Jade Law. “I know that our students represent CSUN very well, I think, and not just academically. We do hold all of our students to maintain a certain GPA level. They are required to perform academically, but they also represent CSUN even as high as the national level. We had our rugby club go all the way to Pennsylvania a few years back to represent CSUN nationally.”

All clubs are funded through a $92 fee from every student through their tuition each semester, according to Associated Student’s Lower Division Senator Nick Jackson. The total is around $8 million, which is dispersed to all clubs and organizations on campus.

“We [receive] about $650,000 from the A.S. budget,” Gale said. “In addition to that, the clubs put in their own dues and fundraise close to another $100,000, and then we also get donations that vary year-to-year: anywhere from $10 to 50,000, that goes towards the clubs and the operation of the clubs.”

There are often leftover funds at the end of the year. According to members present at a recent Sport Clubs Council meeting, there is $13,500 left in the A.S. budget.

“The funding that we reported at the last council meeting is allocated funds specifically for our sport clubs program,” CSUN Sport Clubs Council President Stephanie Peterson said. “During those meetings, people often put in requests for supplemental funding for our clubs. So, let’s say one of our teams has to travel to nationals and they don’t have money for plane tickets, then they would submit a request. Our executive board would take it to a vote and recommend an amount to allocate to them from that budget. Then we bring it before the council, and then the council votes on the amount that we recommended for the club.”

People often question the difference between club sports, NCAA sports, and intramurals, but according to Gale, CSUN students can actually choose among four levels of sports participation on campus.

“There’s your most informal, ” he said, “which is informal recreation, where people just show up and play a game on a field. Intramurals is the next step, where you’re playing games maybe once or twice a week and you’re playing a set game with set rules, and there’s no practice, no training or anything that goes on, you’re just playing a formal game once a week. The next step is sport clubs, and above that is NCAA athletics. The thing that those two have in common is that they’re intercollegiate.”

Aside from giving students the chance to play sports, CSUN has also designed a way to engage, showcase, and build a brand around their clubs and athletes, according to the Matador Sports Network web page. MSN covers sport clubs events, makes highlight reels for the teams, and builds a weekly sports show with team interviews.

“It started a little while back, a couple years ago with James [Jewett], I believe,” said Peterson. “He was from the roller hockey [team], and I also believe he was a journalism student, and he had this idea of just creating a general space where we can broadcast information about our CSUN sport clubs program. That was started, I think, four or five years ago.”

Jewett met with Gale, and they blended their ideas together, Gale said, and they started the MSN.

“Their objective is to live stream games now, and then also to provide highlights from games that we record and live-stream, and produce a weekly show called The Brief,” Gale said.

CSUN Sport Clubs officials said they want to be able to receive even more community recognition and refine what they have in the years to come.

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Anchor: Yesenia Burgara

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Addiction to Sports Blinds Us to the Danger

Many Americans have spent many hours laughing at those online videos showing people getting hurt. Many of the stars of these videos are athletes, who get hurt while playing sports. But sports-related injuries are no laughing matter; they can be quite serious, even deadly, and many athletes, as well as members of the medical community, are starting to take notice.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association estimates that 1.3 to 3.8 million concussions occur in sports and recreation-related activities every year.

Alex Burdeski, a CSUN student and an ice hockey player for 15 years, said he believes that injuries are “part of the game.” Burdeski broke his femur while playing ice hockey.

“I was on crutches for six months and when I got the clearance to get off the crutches I started skating again,” Burdeski said.

The effects of sport-related injuries are the reason why more than 2,000 former NFL players filed a lawsuit against the league this past June in Philadelphia. The suit claims the league is withholding imperative information that links football-related injuries, like concussions, to long-term brain damages.

“A concussion is basically an acceleration/deceleration injury,” said Dr. Eric Sletten, director of CSUN Sports Medicine, who has treated student-athletes for over 20 years. “What happens is the brain is shocked for a moment, to lead to different levels of consciousness.”

Sletten believes that the long-term effects of sports-related injuries can be traced to the violence in America’s sports-obsessed culture in American.

“I would love to see some of the violence toned down because I don’t think it needs to exist,” Sletten said. “We’ve turned into cage-fighting. It’s against the law to put a dog or rooster into a cage and fight, but we’ll put in a human.”

J.P. Gale is the coordinator of CSUN Sports Clubs, and the coach of CSUN’s ice hockey team. He said he agrees that violence is so embedded into the culture of sports that it would be close to impossible to remove it.

“Taking the violence out of boxing or mixed martial arts is elimination of the sport entirely,”  Gale said. “Kids and adults need to take personal responsibility and understand of the effects of what’s possible.”

Even President Barack Obama has expressed concern about violence in college football.

‘‘You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth, and then have nothing to fall back on. That’s something that I’d like to see the NCAA think about,” Obama told The New Republic.

The NCAA promotes student-athlete health and safety. The organization tracks sport-related injuries to help understand the cause and minimize the risks. Soccer is one of the monitored sports, and it continues to grow every year. Soccer players are susceptible to sports-related injuries because of the quick changes of direction and lateral movements required by the game. From 2004-2009, there were more than 55,000 injuries, and soccer players were exposed to a possibility of an athletic injury 7.1 million times. Soccer players are also three times more likely to get injured during a game than a during a practice.

Sean Franklin is a defender on the LA Galaxy soccer team and a former Cal-State Northridge student. He said he has experience with the risks of playing soccer. Franklin had sports hernia surgery in 2009, after three weeks of pain in his lower abdomen. He had continued to play despite the pain.

“The trainers ultimately make the decision whether you can play or not,” Franklin said. “You kind of have to ‘man-up’ and do it for your teammates, for your fans, and your organization.”

A sports hernia is defined by the National Council of Strength and Fitness as “an overuse injury caused by repetitive tissue stress.” Athletes are more prone to suffer from this injury if their sport requires “high speed movements, fast direction changes and/or forceful kicking motions.”

“With a contact sport you’re going to have the warrior mentality,” said hockey coach J.P Gale. “They’ve been taught to play through pain, especially if you’re a better player or a player heavily relied on.”

Gale’s brother, Chris, has played ice hockey since he was three. At 13, Chris broke two bones in his lower back and wore a back-brace for 8 months. But despite his traumatic injury and the risks of other injuries, Chris continues playing the sport.

“I live for the game,” he said. “That’s really what’s kept me driven and kept me going.”

CSUN doctor Eric Sletten said he believes that warrior mentality is decreasing as student-athletes are provided with proper techniques for avoiding injuries. They are now being taught about the risks of sport-related injuries and the possible long-term effects they have, but Sletten said athletes’ passion for their sports may make some overlook the risks.

“One of the most important and hardest decisions I make is to disqualify an athlete,” he said. “Sometimes I have to step in and I have to be your 40-year old brain instead of your 20-year old brain.” Sletten said having a third party on the sidelines to bench injured players for their own safety is one way to maintain the health of college athletes, but he said athletes should learn to protect themselves.

“Injuries are tough and some are more severe than others,” Galaxy player Sean Franklin agreed. “ It’s one of those things where you have realize that there’s more out there than the sport that you play. At the end of the day if I feel that it’s something that will jeopardize my future off the field, then I will definitely step away from the game.”

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