Catamount Football Falls To Rival

The UVM Club Football team was handed its first loss of the season after being shut out by the visiting rivals Southwestern Connecticut Grizzlies in Sunday’s Homecoming game.

A steady downpour fell over South Burlington High School’s Munson Turf Field throughout the 20-0 loss, and the slippery conditions caused several turnovers for both squads.

“The ball didn’t bounce [our] way a couple of plays and they took advantage of it,” said head coach Steve Sheeler. “We don’t make excuses. I mean, they had to play in the rain as well.”

Vermont came into the game having won their first two contests by a combined score of 65-13, but the rain seemed to throw the Catamounts off.

“Our mistakes were what caused us to break down and let up points,” said junior quarterback Jack LeClerc. “The conditions did not make it fun to play in.”

One mistake that was out of the Cats control was an unfortunate blunder by the officials.

On an attempted field goal attempt gone wrong, the Grizzlies desperately heaved the ball to the end-zone. The ball was caught by an ineligible receiver, a detail overlooked by the officials.

Despite the gloomy weather and even gloomier results on the field, the stands remained occupied by a sea of umbrella-wielding fans.

The turn out was impressive for a university that noticeably lacks a varsity football program.

“The only way we’re going to have a meaningful football program is for more people to know we exist,” Sheeler said. “We are a good football team with very high quality athletes, and I think we could really be the best club on this campus.”

“More people know about it, more people are coming to the games,” LeClerc said. “We had fans sitting through the rain, and that means a lot to us. So we’re looking to grow.”

According to Sheeler, for the program to continue to grow they will eventually need increased support from the University.

Instead of being directly funded by UVM, club sports are required to go through the SGA to request funding.

In a 2010 WCAX article on the possibility of football’s return to Catamount Country, athletic director Robert Corran was asked about the University’s choice to not to bring back a program that was discontinued in 1974.

The reasoning was mostly economic.

“The size of the staff, the scheduling requirements, all of those things,” Corran said. “We need a stadium, we need locker rooms, we need all of the infrastructure to field a team.”

Corran speculated that they would need an annual operating budget of $50-60 million.

Reinstating football into the varsity ranks would be a costly endeavor, which leaves the club team focused on making the most of their given situation.

According to Sheelen, a change in scenery could potentially benefit the program.

“We control what we can control, from our club standpoint,” he said. “And we’d love to move this party down to Centennial Field. That way we’d be able to get more students coming to the games, and I think that would really increase the atmosphere. I think that would really help us out.”

Centennial Field is the current home to Vermont’s club baseball team as well as the Vermont Lake Monsters, an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.

The potential move would bring the club closer to campus, both in terms of proximity and relevance within the UVM community, Sheelen hopes.

For now, the team will continue to call Munson Turf Field home.

The 2-1 Catamounts travel to Clarkson next week, and will return to Burlington Oct. 26 to host Eastern Connecticut State University.