Sport Clubs represent Georgia State University from Coast to Coast
The Department of Recreational Services oversees 23 active Sport Clubs, which are student run organizations that have a sport based component. These 23 Sport Clubs represent Georgia State University throughout the year, competing against different universities across the Southeast. Five of these Sport Clubs, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Paintball, Powerlifting, Rock Climbing, and Rowing, participated at a national championship level competition this past year. For many clubs, this was not their first appearance at an elite level competition.
Last October, the Powerlifting Club competed in the USA Powerlifting Nationals in Atlanta. Two club members, TraShon Hightower and Dicy Taylor, represented Georgia State University at the competition. Hightower was able to break the American Record in Squat by age and weight class. He squatted 545 lbs in the 74 kg Junior class. Taylor broke the Squat state record, Bench state record, and Total state record by squatting 308 lbs and benching 154 lbs, for a total of 799 lbs in the 57 kg Open class.
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Club participated in the Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championships in Irvine, California, in March. This was the club’s third straight appearance at a national championship event. Two club members, An Vu and Devin Topping, represented Georgia State University. Topping won her weight class in the Women’s Division. Topping recalls that her favorite moment of the competition occurred after her final’s match, “I did not cheer, did not scream or even hear my coaches and teammates congratulating me. I was in disbelief. I could not believe that I had just won a huge tournament. I sat down on the ground in the gymnasium where the tournament was being held and I cried and cried. I felt as though time had stopped for me in that moment. It was as if I had been preparing for that moment the whole two years that I had been training.”
In April, the Paintball Club participated in the National Collegiate Paintball Championships, hosted in Kissimmee, Florida. This marked the club’s sixth straight appearance at the National Championships and the second consecutive year finishing in the top 3. The club came up just short of a first place finish, losing in the semi-final match to the University of South Florida. However, the club rallied to win the next match, taking home third place overall and capping off an impressive two-year run at top level events. One lesson Austin Tian, President of the Paintball Club, learned during the competition was “the importance of improvisation and damage control. When something goes wrong in the middle of a game, I can keep a cool head, assess the situation, and continue to execute plays to try and win.”
The Rock Climbing Club also competed in April at the Collegiate Climbing Series National Championships at the Mesa Rim Climbing Center in San Diego, California. This was the club’s fourth consecutive National Championship appearance. The club had 8 members compete. Club President Jammer Howell predicts the club will continue to grow and succeed. “Climbing is one of the most fun club sports. It’s also one of the fastest growing communities on campus, so there are always new people to get to know,” says Howell.
In May, the Rowing Club participated in the American Collegiate Rowing Association National Championships held on Lake Lanier. This was the club’s second straight National Championship appearance for the 15 participating members. According to Wes Dunkirk, President of the Rowing Club, the competition Georgia State University faced was intimidating, but “facing such stout competition is also the most rewarding part of the experience.” Dunkirk continues, “As we rowed to the start line, it was incredible seeing how skilled our competition was. Having some of the best rowers in the country line up next to us gave us additional motivation to give everything we had in the competition.”
For all the athletes, competing at elite tournaments requires months of preparation and hard work. Explains Topping, “The most challenging part of the competition was the months leading up to the tournament. It’s the nerves that will get you the most. They make you question everything that you’ve been doing.” At the tournament, students see their hard work and perseverance pay off. Howell explains, “One of our climbers, Tibor Nagy, made it to finals this year, placing in the top 20 out of more than 100 participants. Last year he missed it by one place.”
Competing at a national level competition isn’t the only benefit of joining a sport club. According to Dunkirk, “the Rowing Club has given me my most rewarding college experiences to date. Through rowing, I have seen the benefits of dedication and made friendships that will last a lifetime.” Topping adds, “Each time I compete, I learn something about myself. I learn that I can push myself to my limit. To students that are considering joining the club this fall, don’t be scared! You never know if you’ll like it unless you try it!”
Congratulations to all five clubs that represented Georgia State University at the national championship level this past year!