Between 17 Division II teams, 24 athletic clubs and countless intramural events and leagues, sports are an integral portion of Slippery Rock University.
Slippery Rock sponsors 17 official Division II sports, many of which are not played in the area high schools, but Athletic Director Paul Lueken says that’s an important part of growing the school.
“It’s a nice, wide-variety of sports so we can attract a lot of different folks from a lot of different areas,” Lueken said. “Some of the sports we have are predominantly played out east, some of our sports attract international student-athletes, so that let’s us diversify there.”
Athletic events aren’t just a great experience for hardcore sports fans, they are some of the best places for all students to gather in a social setting.
“One of the things that our athletic teams here do is they bring a sense of spirit to the campus, something to rally around,” Lueken said. “Something to do in social settings and bring groups of people together, some time to celebrate with other folks. It’s a big part of our campus culture”
It’s not limited to those in the Slippery Rock area either, as visitors either passing through or staying for athletic events benefit the town and school.
“When we have events here, we have visitors who come to town and they go to the restaurants and the gas stations and the stores and that kind of stuff, it definitely benefits the business community.” Lueken said.
It’s not just monetary value that surround the positivity of SRU sports, the success of the plethora of teams have created a veil of energy for the University.
“It brings a lot of positive PR to the university. Our results are tabulated on the sports page, most of the other things in the university aren’t,” Lueken said. “It’s a mark of our success.”
For the student-athletes themselves, they learn a lot of positive qualities during their playing days that can apply throughout different challenges in their life.
“For our student-athletes, leadership is huge. The chance to be a team captain and a leader on a team is a great thing,” Lueken said. “I always tell our athletes that they want to be a good student, and they want to be a good community member. This is where you’re living, so treat it like that. Treat it like you’re part of a family.”
The combination of student-athletes bettering themselves, the tradition of SRU and the positivity surrounding every sports team helps make the University and the town that it is in a great place to be.
“Living in a college town is cool, whether you work at the school or not.” Lueken said.