Mizzou Racquetball Team Swings into National Spotlight

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COLUMBIA -- The University of Missouri's club racquetball team is currently ranked third in the entire nation but can't overcome a different type of problem. Despite the team's national success, getting to the major tournaments continues to be a challenge.

"We're third in the nation," said racquetball team president Brendan Giljum. "We do our own fundraisers but we still feel like we're underfunded through club sports."

There are several major tournaments across the country, but the team says they usually can only afford tournaments in St. Louis.

The team ended up placing third at the 2012 National Intercollegiate Championship at Arizona State University in late March. The is team comprised of six men and six women that travel to several tournaments throughout the year.

The top seeded girl on the Mizzou team is freshman Anna Schwartz. She says being a freshman and playing in the top-slot for the Mizzou team is a bit scary, but the amount of time she spends practicing eases her nerves.

"I usually come up here three or four times a week," said Schwartz. "We all practice a lot, it's just a shame we don't get more recognition and support."

Despite not having enough funds, the team does not get any scholarships as well. The team finished and is ranked highest among schools without any scholarship players.

"It's really cool to compete with those schools without having scholarships and having a huge budget," said racquetball team member Bill Wurm.

Giljum acknowledges that despite the financial support, the team does well.

"We really work hard," said Giljum. "We all like to have fun, but we're all very competitive and I think that's what's propelled us to the top of the college rankings."

Mizzou club sports are unable to meet the team's request for more funding.

"We wish we could give them more funds," said club sports coordinator Melissa Operle. "It all depends on how much the team fundraises, how many tournaments the team requests at the beginning of the season. Also, we have to be fair to all the other club teams."

The team hopes to be competitive in the 2012-2013 season.