Alumni will play to save UWO soccer

Sarah Zander

The Save UW Oshkosh Men’s Soccer Event and Alumni Game is being held in lieu of the recent athletic cuts to help preserve the men’s soccer team on Saturday, May 2 at Titan Stadium at 6:30 p.m. “It will be a way for people to show support, become informed about the issues and provide ways for them to help in the future whether online petition, donations or other communications,” senior soccer player Daniel Kobin said. Kobin said the alumni group has also initiated a fundraising project and needs a chance to be heard. UWO alumni and former Titan soccer player Darren Gallagher said the Men’s Soccer Alumni Association is hosting the event. Gallagher said they hope to generate buzz that stirs up the student body and the Oshkosh Student Association to speak on behalf of their rights in attendance at a public institution. “Fifty-five percent of the athletic budget comes from student fees and should be brought up by those who represent the student body on the OSA board,” Gallagher said. “More than just soccer players and tennis players are affected by the cuts.” According to Gallagher, the athletic team cuts go beyond players and coaches to fellow students and the entire campus community. “It’s your classmate, lab partner, roommate, friend and your personal rights that will be lost,” Gallagher said. Gallagher said a recent remark from Chancellor Andrew Leavitt said he’s received almost no criticism from anyone, but current soccer players and alumni said the remark is misleading and inaccurate. “The message is also meant to be a form of intimidation towards OSA, faculty and staff who have spoken up to Save UWO Soccer,” Gallagher said. Mark Pawlyshyn, another UWO alumni and former player and coach, said their goal is to continue to generate awareness of what’s happening for the program. “The chancellor has replied to anyone who has emailed him that the decision is final,” Pawlyshyn said. “However, there seems to be conflicting reasons he gives for the cut. Instead of sitting down with us, he avoids the topic completely and shies away from any interaction.” Pawlyshyn said they want to let Leavitt and Athletic Director Darryl Sims know they aren’t willing to go quietly without exhausting every option available to them. “As a group, we have a lot of initiatives that we want to share and getting together as a group on Saturday will allow us to show our support to the current players, family members and students,” Pawlyshyn said. Gallagher said the alumni game will begin at 6:30 p.m. and local youth players will be allowed on the field at half time to kick around and will be able to meet current players on the varsity team after the game. “There will be an informational meeting prior to the game with handouts, wristbands, posters, T-shirts and a petition,” Gallagher said. There will also be a social for alumni, current players and families after the game, according to Gallagher. “We hope the visual of seeing 100 alumni and 30 current players and coaches not only compete, but represent the school wearing the University crest on their jersey and the sight of the community, youth players, teams and clubs attending as fans and supporters will demonstrate how the impact goes beyond the city of Oshkosh,” Gallagher said.