From Clearance Sale to Champions

After a successful tournament in West Palm Beach, Fla., the SUNY New Paltz Extreme Croquet Club team is preparing for the spring 2012 semester.

The club began in 2007 with a barbeque and a clearance sale croquet set from Target.

“The founders of the club were having a barbeque one day and had gone to Target to grab supplies,” fourth-year Vice President Brian Davidson said. “They wanted to do something fun though and they came across a croquet set on sale, and that’s how this all got started.”

Since it first began, the team has been successful in recruiting through the Club and Involvement Fair and by word of mouth. They are visible on campus as they practice in front of Bouton Hall and Old Main Quad.

Fourth-year Co-President Tim Mullen said he initially joined when he was a second-year student after two of his friends played a semester before him.

“I wasn’t doing too much at the time, but my friends said I had to play and I really liked it,” Mullen said. “We’re a very social club. Some people come for the social aspect of hanging out and playing with friends, but others come because they want to compete at the highest levels.”

The club sent 10 members to the West Palm Beach Invitational. Davidson said socializing about the sport is just as important as playing for club members.

“The tournaments are a lot of fun because we’re always busy, whether we’re talking about the sport or playing the sport,” Davidson said. “We’d start playing games at 8:30 a.m. and compete during the day. At night we’d get dinner with everyone else competing and just socialize.”

With the Florida Invitational behind them and the spring 2012 semester ahead, the team is gearing up to prepare for the National Tournament in Haverford, Pa. Davidson said he is currently filling out the paperwork for nationals and that the team will be sending 24 players to compete.

Last year, the team won the National Tournament Title in 6-wicket, while placing third in the golf category. They were able to break a seven-year winning-streak held by St. John’s College.

Davidson and Mullen said they prepare by teaching basics at the start of the semester.

“We start off small and see who wants to go to Nationals to really compete,” Mullen said. “It isn’t as active right now because of the weather, but once it gets nice out, we practice for about three weeks to a month non-stop in order to prepare for the tournament.”

Aside from tournament preparations, Davidson said the team was also looking to do some heavy recruiting for when he and
Mullen graduate.

“There was a big drop-off in recruiting this year,” Davidson said. “Really it was because we lost about eight or nine members to study abroad and most, if not all of them, said they were coming back.”

After this semester, the club will be losing many of its founding and most active members. The loss does not worry Mullen though.

“I think every sort of club team, especially young ones, worry about a team not being able to thrive,” Mullen said. “However, I’m not too worried about it. We’ve seen that people really love and enjoy playing this sport, whether it’s for fun or just competing. We all know that when we leave this will not die with us.”