North Philadelphia: Temple University Club Baseball Team Enters Season Two
The spring semester of 2014 marked the final season of Division I College baseball at Temple University. After 87 seasons on the diamond, the historic program was one of seven Division I teams cut at the university for financial reasons. Now, in the fall semester of 2015, the club team at Temple looks to kick off its second season as a member of the National Club Baseball Association (NCBA).
Joe Kokol, a senior business management major at Temple, is the founder of the club team. Before the tryout date was set, there was a lot of work that had to be done in order to make the team a possibility.
“We sat down at the club sports office at Campus Recreation and jotted out a plan for us to bring a club baseball team to Temple,” Kokol explained.
Unfortunately for Kokol, there was a restriction on club teams due to a lack of budget in the club sports program at Temple.
Peter Derstine, the assistant director of sports clubs at Temple, worked along side Campus Recreation to add new club teams with the permission of the university.
“There was a freeze on new clubs for five years due to a wide range of factors such as staff oversight, funding and space,” Derstine said. “With the cutting of varsity sports, the university told Campus Rec that they would get the funding for more staff and overall funding needed to open the freeze and accept new club applications.”
Over the summer break heading into the fall semester of 2014, Kokol received news that the restriction was removed allowing an opportunity to create the team.
Kokol, along with his vice president Brad Stiles, ran a tryout on a cold November evening in which 85 students came out. With the season starting less than four months away, Kokol and Stiles had to cut 57 fellow students in order to have a 28-man roster.
“We started out pretty disorganized,” Kokol laughed. “We quickly realized that we had to be organized fast.”
Not only was the club team starting its first season in the NCBA, the season was already in full swing come the beginning of March. Teams in the NCBA play the first half of the season in the fall semester and finish the second half during the following spring semester in the next calendar year.
“Last season was to just try and get a feel of the competition,” Kokol said. “I reached out to a lot of other club coaches and presidents just to see how they ran things.”
Ryan Wheeler, an assistant coach and the recruiting coordinator for Saint Joseph’s University Division I baseball team, was the head coach of Temple’s Division I program for three seasons before the program was cut from the university.
“I have mixed feelings about the club,” said Wheeler. “At this point the university does not seem to want to bring back any of the sports that were eliminated, so receiving any funding from the athletic department is not going to happen. The club program has existed with little or no funding, so whatever they are doing must be working since they have a program.”
The Owls completed their first three-game series of the season with a sweep over the University of Pennsylvania and have started the season 3-0.
– Text, video and images by Andrew Salciunas