Sep 17, 2010 Ami Olson Uncategorized
If you have a passion for playing, Syracuse likely has a sports team or club that is right for you — from rugby to roller derby, running to rowing, there’s no excuse for adults to sit at home.
And the best part? These teams give back. By running youth clinics, organizing fundraisers for charities or donating profits directly to other organizations, it truly pays to play.
Here’s a round up of some not-for-profit and charitable teams and clubs open to adults in the ‘Cuse… take your pick:
Syracuse Chargers Rugby Club
Dan Sieburg grew up playing lacrosse and soccer, never rugby. But after college, the Syracuse Chargers Rugby Club caught his attention.
“I decided I needed to do something to get back in shape. I was a rookie at 29 years old,” Sieburg said.
Five years later, Sieburg is now the vice president of the club and a starter on the roster. And he’s hooked.
“Rugby is very addictive, once you start you can’t stop,” he said.
The success of the rugby club in the last few years is evidence that Sieburg’s teammates agree. The Chargers brought home the New York State Championships five years in a row, from 2002 to 2006, and a Northeast Championship in 2003. They also played in the National Championship that year. Though the last three years have been “down years,” according to Sieburg — the team finished third in the state for three seasons — it’s clear they take ruby seriously.
“We train 10 months out of the year,” said Sieburg. “There’s very little downtime.” The team practices two evenings a week and weekends, rain or shine — a commitment that Sieburg thinks is too much for some would-be players.
“There’s these men’s ‘beer league’ softball teams — that’s not what we are,” he said. “It’s easy to go play softball.”
But for those who are interested, the team will take players of all skill levels, even the inexperienced. Some team members never played any sports, Sieburg said, “but for the most part, if you just keep showing up it’s a key indicator of whether or not you’re going to last.”
How they give back
The team primarily gives back through its youth rugby team, the Syracuse Silverbacks. The team is offering a free clinic for kids second through 10th grade, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday Sept. 26, Oct. 3, 10, and 17 at
But the range of team members’ backgrounds also lends itself to giving back, said Sieburg, who works at the Rescue Mission, where many teammates sometimes volunteer. The club’s emphasis on off-season socializing, (it’s a self-declared “athletically-oriented social organization), also means the team plays in the community, on and off the field.
Visit syracuserugby.com for information about the Syracuse Chargers Rugby Club and the women’s team; check out syracuseyouthrugby.com for the under-18 Silverbacks team. To register for the free clinic, call 729-2661 or 446-8506 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, (registration forms available online, too).
You can also find the men’s team on Facebook.
Syracuse Chargers Track Club
The aim of the Chargers Track Club is to be an all-inclusive, all-purpose running club and it’s membership, which hovers around 1,000 people, indicates the club is meeting it’s goal.
Longtime board member and former president David Oja said the club focuses on the “big three,” track and field, road racing and cross-country. But members also participate in race walking and trail running, and recreational running and walking.
How they give back
By its nature, the club is constantly supporting other non-profits and causes through road races fundraisers, of which there is no shortage in and around Syracuse. The upcoming Festival of Races alone will help 21 different non-profit organizations raise money.
The club also offers a scholarship each year; last year the club awarded Jamesville-DeWitt graduate Eileen Cody with $1,000 scholarship. The club’s Fayetteville Classic on Sept. 18 will raise money for the scholarship fund.
Visit Syracusechargers.org for more information about the club. The Syracuse Festival of Races also has a website, festivalofraces.com, and a Facebook page.
Syracuse Chargers Masters Rowing Club
Looking for a year-round workout? Get on the water.
When the Syracuse Chargers Masters Rowing Club isn’t actually rowing on Onondaga Lake or the canal, team members are in the gym using row machines to stay in shape during the off-season.
Program Director Nickolas Scholz said a group of interested women helped establish the masters club about 15 years ago, and now about 40 rowers, men and women, make up the club.
The club offers Learn to Row programs for beginners and intermediates, because “rowing is a sport you need some development in before you can go and compete,” said Scholz.
After completing the intermediate Learn to Row course, the competitive masters rowing teams are open to interested people age 27 and older.
And this team is competitive — the masters brought home gold, silver and bronze medals from the National Rowing Championships in Camden, N.J. this summer, then traveled to Ontario for the World Rowing Championships.
“They’re pretty serious about it,” Scholz said. “They absolutely love what they do and they work hard at it.”
How they give back
The rowing club directs its charitable ambitions inward, with masters-level club members often taking care of “the little things” around the club that need to get done, said Scholz.
The club also provides rowing opportunities for ages as young as 10, and brings many students from different high schools together during the summer and fall to row together.
“The masters’ ability to work and volunteer helps a lot of the daily functioning of the club,” said Scholz. Many masters club members also serve on the board of directors.
Find out more about the Chargers Rowing at chargersrow.org.
Onondaga Cycling Club
You don’t have to be race-ready to ride with the Onondaga Cycling Club — the group offers eight rides throughout the week for various skill levels, including one-milers, “very hilly” courses and time trials.
President Wayne Miner said the club, founded in more than 40 years ago, currently carries around 460 members, including many families, and a range of ages from mid-teens to mid-70s.
Keeping fit through cycling is one that draws many riders to the club, and one that they hope to capitalize on.
“One of the key issues we’re all very much aware of in this country is obesity,” Miner said. “The average individual in our club, I know, is healthier than the national average.”
How they give back
Miner said over the last five years the club has raised and donated more than $13,000 for local charities, and an expected change to the club’s tax exemption status will focus more of the club’s attention on charity.
“The club has for many years been involved in supporting charities in the area,” Miner said. The board plans to become a 501c3 exempt organization, (it was a 501c7), which will make it a charitable organization.
Members also donate bikes, money and their repair skills for the CNY Family Bike Giveaway in December.
The club has an extensive website, onondagacyclingclub.org, and a presence on Facebook.
Assault City Roller Derby
With derby alter-egos like Deb Crush and Princess Impaler, the Assault City Roller Derby girls skate the line between fierce and fun while giving the crowd a good show.
Teammate Becky “Crazy Diamond” Firman said although the ACRD team held its first bout in April 2008, the Syracuse team is relatively well established. But, since the modern resurgence of roller derby is only about five years old, almost all of the teammates and new recruits have no derby experience.
“And very few people come to us with any actual skating experience,” Firman said.
Which means potential new recruits shouldn’t let their lack of skating or derby skill prevent them from joining the team.
Learning the game together in a primarily female environment has created the super supportive group of athletes, Firman said.
The ACRD team currently has about 30 bout-ready skaters, plus a new recruit class of 15 members, from the minimum age of 21 up to around 45 years old.
“The older they are, the more fierce they tend to be,” Firman said.
How they give back
Though not a tax-exempt nonprofit, the ACRD is still committed to supporting charitable causes in Syracuse and CNY.
That philosophy is in line with Derby tradition, said Firman.
A dollar from each ticket sold to an ACRD home bout goes to a local charity, with emphasis on women’s and children’s organizations. Firman said the team has recently reised money for Golisano Children’s Hospital, the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund and Jowonio.
The team has also held fundraisers like car washes to drum up support for charitable groups.
The ACRD is all over the web, at assaultcityrollerderby.com, myspace.com/assaultcityrollerderby and on Facebook.
To catch the girls in action before the season ends, make a short drive to Rome on Sept. 19 for the bout against the Utica Clubbers, or to Ithaca on Oct. 9, when the ACRD face “sort of rivals” Ithaca SufferJets and Blue Stockings in a double-header.
Syracuse Shock Football, formerly the Express, is a semi-pro opportunity for former and current high school and college players, pro hopefuls along with those who suit up just to play the game.
The team carries 45 players from 18 to more than 40 years old, and has a record this year of 7-0-0 with two games left to go.
How they give back
Each team member is required to perform at least 10 hours of community service, said Johnson.
Last year the team set a goal of completing 1,000 hours of service and regularly work with the Boys and Girls Club, Big Brother/Big Sister, United Way, food banks, American Red Cross and youth football leagues.
Visit the Shock online at eteamz.com/syracuseshock or at the North American Football League site, nafl.org/teams/syracuse-shock.
Fun isn’t free
While typically nominal, these teams and clubs require a membership fee and/or membership dues. Often, playing also requires an investment in gear and equipment. Contact the organizations directly for the most up-to-date fees and information about required gear.