Swimming participants prepare themselves in their swimming position to dive in at Palo Alto’s Aquatic Center.

It’s all about the Benjamins

By Desirae Gonzales-Moreno, Pulse staff writer

Because of a lack of funds at Palo Alto College, the title Student Athlete no longer exists, leaving some students in despair.

Palo Alto received less than half the funds it needed to continue with club sports because approximately 80 percent of students are attending school only part-time, according to Carmen Velasquez, director of Student Engagement and Retention.

Club sports in previous years included women’s volleyball, and men and women’s basketball.

“We simply can’t afford to do the sports. It [is] more than half our budget. We knew we didn’t want to get rid of it because how important it is; however, we needed to restructure it in such a way that we would be able to continue the services that we do provide and yet provide the recreation sports aspect at a lower cost,” said Velasquez.

According to Juan Aguilera, instructor of the Weight Lifting Class, the lack of funds has been holding weight lifting back from becoming an actual competitive team. Aguilera trains his students, yet they have to pay out of their pocket to go out and compete.

Like the weight lifting class, Palo Alto’s swimming is in the same position with offering a “Masters Team” for students and the community.

“The Masters Swim Team allows for people to come in no matter what their skill set is and be able to swim,” said Swimming Head Coach Nicol Schriner. “I’ve got other people who are interested in fitness and their big thing is just having motivation of someone expecting them to be there and having someone else who provides their workouts for them. I have other people who really want to compete [and] go to a lot of meets, whether they are doing triathlons or traditional competitive swimming. The way we have our club structure set up allows me to attend to all those people.”

Hired in May of 2013, Schriner stepped into the organization of the Alamo Area Aquatics Association, which Palo Alto is a member of and consists of coaches from all over San Antonio.

“The Masters Team is not funded through PAC or Alamo Area College District; participants pay a [$60] monthly fee. PAC does not pay for equipment, entry fees or travel,” said Schriner. “Part of the city’s agreement with Palo Alto to share the pool is that Palo Alto offers community programming. This swim team is part of that community programming.”

Sports left for students to be involved are intramural sports, which include volleyball, soccer, basketball, flag football, dodge ball, kick ball and possibly badminton. Intramural volleyball is currently taking place at the school’s gym, along with open gym basketball.

“Currently, we are having intramural volleyball on Tuesdays starting at 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Students who want to participate can come and will be put on a team before the game. But on Monday, Oct. 28, and Tuesday, Oct. 29, we will be having our Intramural Volleyball Tournament,” said Garza.

The 7×7 Soccer Men’s, Women’s, and Co-Ed Division registration is open for individuals to sign up their team or as a free agent. Free agents are placed on a team. Individuals can sign up through IMLeagues.com or stop by the Fitness Center for registration assistance, according to Garza.

Co-Ed soccer teams will play on Mondays at 4 p.m. and 4:45 p.m., and Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. Also, the women’s teams will play on Mondays, as well, at 5:30 p.m. and 6:15 p.m., and Tuesdays at 4 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. The men’s teams will play on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. and 4:45 p.m., and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. Games will begin on Oct. 28 on the school’s soccer fields.

Other events provided for students included the Bench Press Competition on Aug. 26, Basketball 3-Point Shootout on Aug. 28 and Fitness Challenge on Sept. 16.

Upcoming events include the NFL Combine Competition on Oct. 21 and the Swim Challenge on Nov. 18. These are one-day events where students can feel free to join without registering and have a chance at winning prizes.

“The NFL Combine will be taking place in the Fitness Center and Gym at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Students, faculty and staff who want to participate can come by and do the competition,” said Garza.

Participants will compete against each other in football drills. However, the Swim Challenge is a little different and not a competition. Every participant will receive a prize, according to Garza.

“The challenge will consist of swimming in the shallow end to retrieve an object in the water, running in the water with a board on your head, and a little bit of swim. Students, faculty and staff can swing by and participate and they will all get a prize. It [starts] at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.,” said Garza.

The Swim Challenge will take place at the school’s Aquatic Center.

These sports offer equal opportunity for students to be engaged with one another and allow students to compete against other Palo Alto students on campus, according to Adrian Montoya, athletic director.

“Right now we want to focus on intramurals and then possibly next year we can focus on including some club sports, as well,” said Montoya.

However, many student athletes are not happy with this decision to focus on intramurals. They want playing time with real competition now.

“Find funds somewhere, maybe organizations, [to raise] money for the students,” said Brittany Flores, a sophomore Kinesiology major. “Students have fun with sports…It pushes a person to do something, gives them goals to go to school for, and if they don’t have goals to go to school for, then what’s the point in going to school?”

 Freshman Alexis Sanchez, who is pursuing a career as a physical therapist, said, “Students allowed to only play against each other on campus is just less exciting, less competition, and it allows them to not be able to see the skills that other girls at different schools have to offer.”

Students who want trainers, coaches and competition [in sports] need to find a way to get that done and start doing it, according to Schriner. She recommends forming a club through the Office of Student Engagement.

Freshman Kinesiology Major Gabriel Mora is an example of what student athletes can do to fight for their sport. Mora plans on making history by bringing full physical contact football to campus for the first time.

With the support from our student government and administrators, like Vice President of Student Success, Dr. Robert Garza, Mora is doing everything in his power for students to earn the title back as a Student Athlete.

“We have two soccer fields, and we don’t even have a soccer team. To me that’s pretty embarrassing,” said Mora. “Once a football team is here at Palo Alto, my goal is to get other sports.”

The reason why there has not been a soccer team is because of a lack of interest from students, according to Velasquez.

Mora’s ambition is to give hard-working student males and females the opportunity to play the sports they love and bring our campus school spirit back to life wearing the green and white Palomino pride. During a Club Rush meeting, Mora passed around a football petition and received 324 signatures in two hours.

 “I’m excited getting to play [football] again. I miss it,” said freshman Liberal Arts Major Mark Alarcon.

For more information on intramural sports, visit the college’s website or contact Program Supervisor of Intramurals and the Fitness Center Laura Garza. For more information on swimming, contact Swimming Head Coach Nicol Schriner. To form a club, contact Carmen Velasquez.