The University of Connecticut’s water polo team, along with other teams, are in the process of filing a complaint to the university after a disagreement with Club Sports regarding practice schedules.
According to water polo vice president Megan Russell, an eighth-semester nursing and statistics major, UConn’s team is not allowed as much practice time as the other college teams playing in the New England Division of the Collegiate Water Polo Association.
“When we go to competitions, we don’t feel like we’re leveling up with the teams that we’re playing,” said Russell. “So, we actually reached out to the teams and were asking them their practice time and what kind of resources they get from their school. And, we found out that we get half the amount of practice time than the schools we’re competing against.”
After attempts to request more practice time, Club Sports was “dismissive of our concerns about not being able to play at the same level as other teams,” Russell added. “They said it was their policy to give the amount of practice time that we’re given and [that] it’s the same with all of the teams.”
Currently, the water polo team practices for two hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as an hour and a half on Fridays, according to the water polo website.
According to Russell, at one point during the fall semester, water polo athletes received an email indicating that “one of our practice times was going to be canceled for five weeks or so, with no warning.”
“When we talked to Club Sports about this, asking if there was going to be an alternative practice time or location, they were really dismissive to this, saying there was no other place on-campus that we could go to,” Russell added.
Russell said the team suggested areas such as the Natatorium or the old Rec Center for practice, but were told that those areas were designated for UConn Athletics and not Club Sports.
“I feel like our issues with Club Sports…have been going on for a really long time,” Russell said. “And it’s interesting, because they have an officer meeting at the beginning of the semester with all of the club teams. They kind of emphasized how it’s their job to advocate for us, to give us the best resources…But then when you try to talk to them personally, none of that is true.”
Russell also said the team attempted to schedule a meeting with Dean of Students Eleanor JB Daugherty, but UConn Recreation “heard about this meeting and…demanded we go through Club Sports first.”
According to UConn Recreation’s policies, “Questions regarding a specific policy should be directed to a UConn Recreation staff member for clarification.”
“My team actually met with Club Sports last fall…about how we’re not being given the resources that other schools are, and that they keep cutting our practice time,” Russell said. “In this meeting, I felt gaslit and they were very dismissive of any of my concerns.”
Water polo is currently working with other UConn teams that have encountered issues with Club Sports in the past in order to put in a formal complaint to the university.
“I know it’s not just water polo that has these issues,” Russell said. “I talked to a lot of other club leaders. It’s more of a systemic issue with Club Sports and the way that it’s set up structurally.”