The Moab Athletic Club, founded in 2009 to give local athletes a chance to travel and play competitively with teams from other areas, has grown dramatically in its brief four years of existence from one traveling basketball team to several teams in various sports.
The club fielded two traveling basketball teams last season and now has four traveling baseball teams and four traveling soccer teams.
The club is run by the parents themselves. They have a president, secretary and treasurer, though the president has been absent for quite some time, club treasurer Rarni Schultz said.
“We’re currently reorganizing and trying to do things different,” she said. “We’re starting to get big enough to need structure.”
To play in tournaments out of town, parents of athletes pay for uniforms and travel expenses and the club pays tournament entry fees. The club raises money to pay fees from fundraisers, assistance with local events, such as garbage duty during the April Action Car Show, and grants from the Grand County Recreation Special Service District, Schultz said.
The Moab Athletic Club is not affiliated with Moab City Recreation, but the two organizations do work together and serve different needs for the city’s youth, said John Geiger, who serves as both the recreation coordinator and the rec board treasurer.
“City rec provides practice facilities and equipment to the traveling teams,” Geiger said. “As rec board treasurer, I’ve also approved a great deal of funding for the organization.”
Geiger said Moab City Recreation and the Moab Athletic Club have “two different philosophies that cooperate well together.”
“Our philosophy is inclusion so we focus on letting everyone participate regardless of skill level and quite often traveling teams are skill-oriented and only the best players get the playing time,” Geiger said.
Geiger said that although the more competitive philosophy of traveling teams doesn’t fit the Moab City Recreation mold, he appreciates what they accomplish.
“We’re really seeing the benefits in town,” Geiger said. “Increasing the skill level of our athletes, getting them out of town to see different perspectives – You can see the improvement of our athletic teams at all levels.”
Geiger said it’s been great to see the club grow to what it is today, and he believes it’s because of the hard work and dedication of the coaches. Schultz said she is surprised with how quickly the club has grown.
“We never knew we would grow this big, but we did,” she said. “We hope future parents keep it going.”
The club recruits new players and coaches largely by word-of-mouth, Schultz said.
Coaches coach on a volunteer basis and there are now no restrictions on who may coach teams, said Jennifer Horton, who will be taking over as secretary or treasurer when the club’s reorganization takes effect.
“Usually the coaches are parents of one of the players,” she said. “And any kid that wants to is welcome to come and play… basically show up at the ballpark at any given time and someone there will be able to tell you where to go to get the information.”
The club is now unable to host tournaments in Moab, but insurance issues and the club’s status as a non-profit organization are obstacles the club must overcome to make that a reality, Horton said.