DePaul Rugby: the experience of running a college athletic club

Two DePaul students stood by a U-Haul van parked outside of the Ray Meyer Fitness Center early on a warm Saturday morning.

Juan Orozco, backs captain of the men’s rugby team, and Katina Calamari, backs captain of the women’s team, were deciding how to fit a set of goalposts and other equipment into the van. A few minutes later Orozco drove the van to Diversey Harbor where he and some members of the club set up a rugby field.

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Freshman Edyta Tarczyński helps load a van with rugby equipment. [Photo by Christopher Silber. June 3, 2017]

The DePaul Rugby Club is a student-run organization. Players do everything from funding money to renting fields and scheduling games.

“Every DePaul Club has a $5,000 fund from the University,” said Junior  Erik Anderson, who was elected to be president of the men’s team next school year. “We have to apply to use it so we can buy new jerseys and equipment.”

Orozco, who was elected vice president, said renting fields costs varying amounts of money.

“Diversey Harbor costs about $75 an hour. Winnemac, where we played our home games in the fall, only costs $50 an hour, so we saved  $100 over four hours,” he said. “We also don’t have to put up goal posts there, because the park has permanent ones.”

The club has called four different fields home over the past few years. Diversey Harbor is the closest, but the teams have set up as far south as Dan Ryan Woods.

The Pregame

A group of about fifteen men’s and women’s players walked into the park at 10:00 a.m. to set up the field. They had to measure out the field and spray it, and put up flags and goal posts.

They were careful about measuring the field. The games in a few hours were important for the program. It was the day of the alumni game, where current students play graduates. Former players from as early as DePaul Rugby’s founding in 2001 were coming.

“This is my favorite field,” said Anderson. “It’s so close to DePaul. I think having more games here would get more guys to come out.”

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New men’s president Erik Anderson (far left), and women’s president Katina Calamari (middle) help student Tony LaPiana measure out the field. [Photo by Christopher Silber. June 3, 2017]

The women’s game was scheduled for noon, and the men’s game was scheduled for 1:30. The men are expected to support the women, and the women are expected to support the men.

“Rugby does not discriminate,” said Orozco. “The women literally play the same game we do. Same rules, same ball and same field.”

The men’s and women’s rugby teams used to be separate clubs, but they combined a year ago.

“The two clubs used to be separate,” said Orozco. “The reason why we joined to be one club last year was because a more united effort would look better with DePaul and possible sponsorships.”

Obtaining sponsors and seasonal player fees help the team operate. Occasionally, players have to use their own money to host events.

“We don’t have a team credit card or anything,” said Kevin Simoni, the team’s treasurer for the 2016-2017 school year. “When we hosted the Chicago Cup, I had to put $1600 on my own credit card. I wasn’t able to use it for the rest of the month.”

The Women’s Game: Empowerment and Inclusion

Rugby is a physical sport. The physicality is one of the major draws for men and women alike.

“When I was looking for a new sport I decided to try rugby because I was an enforcer in high school soccer and I’ve always thought being competitive and aggressive was an asset, not a detractor,” said sophomore Maya Scanlon-Kimura.

She said the sport is empowering in a way most activities are not.

“My favorite part is definitely the empowerment for women both on the field and off as well as the accessibility of the sport,” she said.  “This team is unique because you’re allowed to come to practice just to learn and try it out – there’s no stigma about what shape or skill level you are.”

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Members of the women’s team converse as they watch the men’s game. [Photo by Christopher Silber. June 3, 2017]

Members of the women’s team praised the club’s inclusivity. The fee to play is small compared to sports like rowing, and practices are usually open to newcomers.

“My favorite part of rugby is how it brings all types of people together,” said women’s president and backs captain Katina Calamari. “My team is amazing and I might not have met them if it wasn’t for Rugby.”

The Men’s Game: Competitive Camaraderie

Current men’s players and alumni walked onto the field before kickoff. Many were joking about old memories, the party after the game, and making bets about the upcoming game.

“The best thing about DePaul Rugby is the brotherhood,” said Erik Espeland, a senior playing his last game as a student. “More brotherhood, less cost, and none of the weird stuff that comes with joining a frat.”

Some students played in high school, and enjoy the competitiveness the team maintains while keeping the game fun.

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Student Jack Stevens relaxing with friends before the game. [Photo by Christopher Silber. June 3, 2017]

“My favorite part about DePaul rugby is just the atmosphere the team gives while having a competitive yet relaxed attitude” said Erik Anderson. “I wanted to continue playing rugby in college. Also I wanted to play with people at my school instead of joining a men’s team.”

Students praise the social aspect of the club, or, as junior Jack DeHaven said, “Smashin heads, drinkin beer, singin songs.”

The students won the men’s game and the alumni won the women’s game, both by close margins. After the men’s game, all the men and women present made a circle and talked about the club, how the teams did this year, and the importance of keeping the tradition of the alumni game alive.

“I have felt so welcomed into the rugby community and I love playing because it is so empowering as a woman to celebrate my strength and power on the pitch,” said senior Claire Sandberg. “DePaul Rugby has been such a great experience and a great space to learn a new sport, stay active, and meet great people.”

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Current players and alumni gathered for a picture after the games. [Photo courtesy of the DePaul Rugby Club. June 3, 2017]

Chicagoans contemplate the future development of Holy Name’s Parking Lot

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An old basketball hoop sits in the middle of Holy Name’s parking lot, which was sold to developers in April. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 3, 2017]

The bus stop on the corner of Chicago Avenue and State Street brimmed with activity on Wednesday afternoon.

A man and his child ate McDonald’s, a utility crew cleared leaves off the sidewalk, and hundreds of people walked up and down the stairs of the Chicago El stop.

Mark Adams stood away from the curb, smoking a cigarette as he viewed the scene.

“This area sure gets busy,” he said. “I got lost on my way over today.”

Adams had just gotten a job at a business off of Chicago Ave. “It’s been a great day so far. Now I just need to get on the bus,” he said, chuckling.

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The Chicago stop on the El fills with passengers waiting for a train headed north. According to CTA, more than 16,000 people enter the station on the average weekday. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 3, 2017]

Within vision of the bus stop was a wide, low parking lot on State. The lot, once owned by Holy Name Cathedral across the street, was purchased by JDL developers for $110 million in early April.

“That parking lot must be nice for the church,” said Adams. “You don’t usually see lots that big in a place so crowded.”

JDL plans on building two to four apartment tower complexes on the parking lot.

“It’s a great location,” said Adams. “transport, walking, food. It’s all here. I just hope it doesn’t get too congested.”

Noise is normal

A block south of the parking lot, an elderly woman walked and admired the new leaves growing.

“There really are beautiful trees on this street,” said Susan Carson, as she fumbled to show me a picture she took on her phone. “This is my favorite time of year to walk around.”

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The new 8 East Huron building is under construction by Holy Name Cathedral. The Cathedral’s parking lot lies on the right. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 3, 2017]

We could hear the sound of construction near us. CA Residential LLC is finishing building  new residential skyscraper on 8 East Huron.

“It is a noisy place,” said Carson. “There’s always something being built around here.”

She said she doesn’t mind all the noise from construction.

“Places like this are supposed to be bustling.” Carson said.

She said she thought building on the parking lot seemed like a good idea.

“I feel like that parking lot is wasting space,” she said. “I just hope the people at the Cathedral have somewhere to park when it’s gone.”

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Parents wait for their children to finish class outside of Francis Xavier Ward School by Holy Name. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 3, 2017]

How big?

Eliot Sterling ate a burger with a milkshake on the McDonald’s outdoor patio.

“I mean, somebody was going to build something there eventually,” he said. “It’s a developer’s dream.”

Sterling, a middle-aged office worker, said how he views the construction depends on what the building plans look like.

“I don’t think the [developers] will be able to build some huge tower,” he said. “There’s too many hoops to jump through.”

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Cars and commuters fill the streets outside of the McDonald’s on Chicago and State. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 3, 2017]

Sterling may be right. In April a proposed 60 story building was shot down a block away on Michigan Ave. for traffic concerns.

“I know the Church sold it for a lot of money. It’s probably gonna be a big project,” said Sterling. “But I can’t see them building anything that would hurt the Cathedral.”

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Residents walk by the walls of the former convent and seminary next to Holy Name Cathedral. The Holy Name complex encompasses a whole city block.  [Photo by Christopher Silber May 3, 2017]

What do you think of the development of Holy Name’s parking lot? Contact me by email at csilber298@outlook.com or on twitter @silber_depaul.

An Inside View on a Radio DePaul Pocket News Broadcast

An Inside View on a Radio DePaul Pocket News Broadcast

As a member of the Radio DePaul News team, I got an inside look on the daily Pocket News broadcast at noon on May 1, 2017. Freshman Sarah Breedlove and Sophomore Ryan Witry wrote and produced the show. Pocket News is a fifteen minute broadcast every weekday at noon and 5:00 p.m.

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The DePaul Radio Station at University Hall is empty at 11:00 a.m. before students arrive to prepare for Pocket News at Noon. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 1, 2017]

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News Operations Director at Radio DePaul Sarah Breedlove begins looking for stories to report in an hour. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 1, 2017]

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Breedlove is joined by Radio DePaul Sports reporter Ryan Witry. The two have an hour to put together a fifteen minute broadcast that streams live. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 1, 2017]

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The broadcasting studio waits for the two reporters to begin the daily news report at noon.  [Photo by Christopher Silber May 1, 2017]

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Breedlove and Witry situate themselves in the studio. Breedlove configures the computer and sound hardware before the broadcast. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 1, 2017]

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Breedlove opens Pocket News with local news, reporting on the recently closed Bridgeport Bar Schaller’s Pump. She goes on to report on national, world, and entertainment news. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 1, 2017]

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Witry reads the sports script he compiled in the hour before the show. he reports on The NFL Draft, Chicago Cubs, and DePaul Women’s Tennis team.  [Photo by Christopher Silber May 1, 2017]

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The central microphone lays unused as music streams onto the station after the short Pocket News broadcast. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 1, 2017]

Radio DePaul’s News Team is always looking for more reporters. If you are a DePaul student interested in joining the News Team, I suggest you contact News Director Doug Klain at radiodepaulnewsdirector2@gmail.com. Visit Radio DePaul’s website for more information on the station’s shows and events.

People look to Chicago parks as health risks rise

Thousands of Chicago residents walked through the warm spring air over Easter weekend, but the air wasn’t doing them any favors.

According to a new report published earlier this month, Chicago had 151 dirty air days last year. Seventy of those days also had elevated smog levels.

Many Chicagoans say they escape the pollution of the city at public parks.

“I try walk through some greenery every now and then,” said Nora Drew, a freshman at DePaul, as she walked along the sidewalk to Oz Park on Webster. “I don’t think I could live somewhere without any parks.”

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Parks are often seen as an escape from urban harms such as air pollution. “Chicago-018” by Jesse Rapczak licensed under CC by 2.0.

She said living near a park makes her feel healthier.

“Being close to Oz Park, it makes me get out and move around a bit more,” she said.

Mayor Emmanuel appears to agree. His office announced a $26 million investment to repair aging park facilities earlier in April.

“I think investing in parks is a win-win,” said Drew. “It helps us stay healthy, and it gets us to go out and do something with ourselves.”

Beyond the Air

For South and West side residents, health problems extend beyond air pollution.

 

A Sinai Urban Health survey found that South and West siders have high rates of obesity, diabetes, asthma, and more.

CHIObesity has become a serious health risk in many neighborhoods in Chicago. Statistics found on Chicago’s Data Portal.

Though many health factors in these areas require complicated and long-term fixes beyond public green space, many parks in the South and West sides are scheduled for improvement with the new investment. Among the parks on the list for repair are Archer Park, Austin Town Hall Park, Columbus Park, Douglas Park, Dvorak Park, Fosco Park, Hamilton Park, and Harrison Park.

Are parks a possible solution to Chicago’s health problems? Contact me by email at csilber298@outlook.com or on twitter @silber_depaul

 

Residents succeed in halting construction of River North tower

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River North is home to some of the tallest buildings in Chicago. Newer high rise plans, however, face steep opposition from residents. “Chicago 204a” by Lize licensed under CC by 2.0.

For River North residents, bigger isn’t necessarily better.

Alderman Brendan Reilly of the 42nd Ward announced that plans for a high rise at 739 N Wabash Street won’t be moving forward.

The proposed 725-foot-tall Carillon Tower was going to be the tallest planned River North Building since Trump Tower. Residents, however raised concerns about traffic at a community meeting about the project in March.

After seeing these plans, people felt the plans did not do enough enough to address the already slow traffic at the intersection of Superior Street and Wabash Avenue.

The building was supposed to be mixed use, with retail on the first floors, condos, hotels, and indoor parking.

“This combination of uses suggests heavy volumes of deliveries, curbside pick-up/drop-off, special event traffic and buses,” Alderman Reilly wrote in an email to constituents on Friday, “It’s simply too much for this block.”

Similar sentiments caused the Alderman to oppose a proposal for a 45 story hotel in the same area in 2014.

New construction plans ahead

It’s also worth noting that a few blocks down Chicago-based JDL Development plans to build two to four apartment and condo towers on the site of the old parking lot for Holy Name Cathedral. JDL bought the lot for $115 million earlier in April.

Details on height and size of these buildings have not yet been determined. Don’t expect happy residents if they’re too big.

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Will residents approach development of the former Holy name parking with the same coldness as 739 N. Wabash? “Holy Name Cathedral” by David Wilson, licensed under CC by 2.0.

What do you think about River North development? contact me by email at csilber298@outlook.com or on twitter @silber_depaul