CSU baseball finds limitless success with limited support

Christian Hedrick

With a recent string of conference titles, national championships and deep National Club Baseball Association World Series’ runs, the Colorado State club baseball team is arguably the most successful team on campus. 

Despite their success, the team has had to overcome an annual decline of resources and attention from the University. While CSU currently supplies the baseball team with a budget of about $3,000 per year, annual budget cuts have put pressure on players’ pockets and fundraising efforts to meet demands.

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“Funding is definitely our biggest limitation,” CSU assistant coach and former player Brett Bogner said. “I definitely think the University could help us more. Back when I was president of the team in 2013-14, we were getting about $8,000 from the school and that has declined ever since.”

While the baseball team’s budget has shrunk, expenses have continued to pile up. Among the most common expenses are travel, equipment and field rental.

“Field rental is an issue that’s been hard with the University,” Bogner said. “We used to have that field on campus, but they demolished it probably eight to 10 years ago. Now we have to pay for field rental. That’s a pretty big expense … probably a few thousand dollars each semester.”

Constructing another on-campus field may be an unrealistic expectation from the University, but there are other, less expensive ways that CSU can support the baseball team and other club sports.

“The university could help us out a little more with marketing and our public relations stuff,” Bogner said. “A lot of people don’t even know we’re here. Our games are always free and there’s always pretty good weather, so I think the University could help.”

Without scholarships and state-of-the-art facilities to train and attend games, club baseball does not garner the same national attention as NCAA baseball. Nonetheless, CSU club baseball players believe they dedicate as much time and energy to the sport as their NCAA counterparts.

“We treat it like any other NCAA program, I would say,” CSU catcher and club president Jake Walker said. “We come out here and practice two-and-a-half to three hours a day, four days a week and then have games all day Saturday and Sunday. More than half of all of our players’ schedules are spent out here being a student athlete and balancing school just as much as any other athlete at this school.”

The Rams’ demanding schedule is rooted in their success and sets them apart from many other club teams.

“There’s a stigma against playing club baseball and we’re kind of the outliers in that situation since we usually go to the World Series, compete at a high level and carry a lot more guys than some of the other club sports here,” Walker said.

The club baseball team may not have to fight that stigma much longer, as a return to Division I status could be in the future.

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“I think it’s always on the radar,” Walker said. “Colorado is starting to become a bigger baseball state and with Greeley (Northern Colorado) and Air Force being the only Division I programs in the state, I think there’s pressure on CSU and CU to bring back Division I baseball and I think it’s feasible if both programs wanted to.”

Even if the program never receives Division I status or proper funding, club baseball will always be a home for athletes who want to continue their love for the game.

“A lot of the time, club baseball is like a last resort for a lot of us,” Walker said. “I was a former NCAA baseball player and a lot of our guys came from playing in junior college and NCAA. I’m sure it’s the same for a lot of other club sports (athletes) here who wanted a different atmosphere, but wanted to continue playing the game they loved.”

Collegian sports reporter Christian Hedrick can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ChristianHCSU.