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    November 2, 2022 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    This year, as a means of generating revenue for its programs, Liberty University’s Club Sports department has taken the lead in preparing and selling concessions as well as cleaning up after all university Athletics events on campus, including football games at Williams Stadium.

    “So far, it’s been a huge success,” Club Sports Associate Athletic Director Kyle McQuillan said. “The beauty of the model is the strength of our workforce, as we have access to over 700 students who are able and motivated to work toward their teams’ financial status. So it is a model that makes a lot of sense, as we are able to funnel that money back into programs.”

    At most college and university campuses, club teams are student-run and student-funded.

    “Being able to play a part, and fight off any sense of entitlement, promotes a sense of gratitude,” McQuillan said, noting it is becoming an expectation for Club Sports teams to participate, “We don’t exempt any team. When coaches call and say we need more money, more funds to go to nationals, we ask how engaged are you in giving? Obviously, we want to step in and help programs when they experience hurdles and setbacks, but we also want to connect them with opportunities to generate funding and revenue.”

    McQuillan, who also serves as head coach of the Flames’ men’s lacrosse team, recruited 35 of his players to work the Oct. 23 football game against BYU, a historic 41-14 win played in front of a record crowd of more than 24,000 fans.

    “Our guys were on both sides of the stadium, some on trash duty, some deep frying, some working registers, they were all over the place,” McQuillan said. “I’ll say fun, but it was chaos, the biggest crowd that stadium has ever seen, and undoubtedly the most concessions ever sold on one day. It was very busy.”

    His team is raising funds to go toward its travel expenses this spring, which will include a trip out West to play Utah Valley and BYU in mid-March. In all, Liberty’s Club Sports teams have provided an average of 120 student-athletes for each of the four home football games to date, working six-hour shifts and bringing in thousands of dollars for their respective programs.

    Liberty DI women’s hockey players take a break from service at a recent football game at Williams Stadium.

    For the season, players from Liberty’s women’s Division I and II and men’s Division II and III hockey teams, men’s and women’s beach volleyball, crew, disc golf, taekwondo, triathlon, and wrestling as well as women’s figure skating and men’s lacrosse and swimming teams have now participated in home football game concessions, contributing to cover the costs of their respective teams’ new uniforms and apparel as well as food, travel, and lodging expenses on road trips.

    For men’s Division I hockey games, which require a staff of eight student-athletes working from 5:30-10 p.m., men’s and women’s disc golf and taekwondo, men’s DIII hockey, and women’s gymnastics have stepped up to serve on the concourse at the LaHaye Ice Center.

    Student-athletes are able to apply the hours they serve toward their Christian/Community Service (CSER) requirements each semester since they are not being paid individually, but serving voluntarily.

    “Every year, teams are asking for more fundraising opportunities,” McQuillan said, noting how the experience benefits teams not only financially, but also in growing a team culture based on service. “It’s a great opportunity and we pitch it to coaches, to find ways to help themselves. Sending a team to go and work an event together, whether it’s flipping burgers or working at one of the kiosks or stands, it is an opportunity to develop camaraderie and team culture and to give back to the university that has so richly invested in them.

    “Our goal is to be able to generate over $1 million in revenue through concessions to help our department continue to find ways to help fund and develop and grow our teams in the future,” he added.

    With Wednesday being Liberty’s annual “Flames Giving Day,” many teams have gone into the fundraising drive with a healthy start toward generating the revenue needed to cover operating expenses for the year.

    “They work together and they know what they’re working towards,” said Jillian (Woosley) Burton, who spent the past three years as Club Sports’ Sales Operation Coordinator before being promoted to Assistant Athletic Director of Sales and Concessions, reporting directly to McQuillan. “It helps that it stays within Liberty (so) we’ll have more money to help Club Sports and individual teams as well, to send them to nationals or use toward mission and travel expenses.”

    Burton received her B.S. in Family and Child Development in 2017 with the intent of becoming a preschool teacher before going on to earn her M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision in 2019 while serving as a graduate assistant for concessions. She said Liberty’s food service provider, Sodexo, has welcomed the Club Sports takeover as it has faced staffing shortages since the pandemic.

    “They made the comment that, ‘Wow, that’s awesome that you have so many people willing to help,’ because what Sodexo kind of lacked was the workforce,” she said.

    Burton has two full-time staff members, former Flames men’s volleyball player Zachary Martyn (now an assistant coach) and graduate disc golf player Spencer Ellingson, both of whom were graduate assistants under her. Her four current GAs are all former Lady Flames student-athletes: Hannah Miller (disc golf), Sophie Miller (swimming), Kiana Ziegler (DII hockey), and Lydia Vernon (ultimate). She also has about 40 work-study students and assistants working for her who receive modest salaries that they can apply toward tuition costs.

    Other events that Club Sports staff cover include women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball in the Liberty Arena, baseball and softball games, and indoor track & field and swim meets.

    “Now, any food sold on campus for official Liberty University Athletic events is (served) by Club Sports,” McQuillan said, noting that also includes Student Activities concerts and Coffeehouse events at the Vines Center.

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer  

    Liberty gymnasts worked into the rotation of serving concessions at Friday’s and Saturday’s DI men’s hockey games at the LaHaye Ice Center. (Photo by Chase Reed)