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New student organization helps UI students play pool outside bars

BY MATT STARNS | OCTOBER 03, 2012 6:30 AM

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A new student organization on campus aims to make playing pool in an alcohol-free environment easier.

The Iowa City Billiards Club held its third meeting Tuesday evening. University of Iowa junior DJ Trunnell, the president of the club, said he created the student organization with Vice President and UI senior Ryan Grant after realizing there was no club devoted to playing pool and billiards.

Trunnell and Grant are members of the UI’s chapter of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.

“In our fraternity, we’re required to be in an organization, outside of the fraternity, on campus,” he said, and he and Grant reviewed the options and decided to start their own club.

Grant, a UI senior majoring in biomedical engineering, said the first meeting of the billiards club — hosted at the Lambda Chi fraternity house — drew more attention than he had expected.

“We had a pretty good turnout with our first meeting, upwards of 25 people,” he said, and the high interest in the club prompted he and Trunnell to move the club’s future meetings to the Robert A. Lee Community Recreation Center, 220 S. Gilbert St.

He said the center offers more tables and a larger space for the group than the Lambda Chi house.

Kelly Bender, the UI campus community harm-reduction initiatives coordinator, said the billiards club is an opportunity for students to socialize and have fun without the involvement of alcohol.

“Something like this, it just provides an opportunity to do something different,” she said. “It seems to replicate a lot of the things people like about being in a bar atmosphere. Not everybody wants to go out and get drunk every weekend.”

Bender said the club might also be important for bar owners looking to protect themselves from the liability of hosting underage patrons after hours.

“I think the overwhelming majority of bars and restaurants are socially responsible and are happy to have young people involved in activities,” she said. “And they don’t need to have them in their bar drinking.”

Terry French, owner of Sam’s Pizza, 441 S. Gilbert St., said he anticipates little disruption of his business because of the club’s focus on keeping play away from the bars.

“I don’t think it’s a big concern,” he said. “I think it’s good for kids to have a place to go.”

Grant said concerns about the connection between bar culture and pool and billiards were raised when he and Trunnell proposed the new organization to the UI Student Government.

“They were worried that we were going to be playing at the bar,” he said. “They didn’t want to sponsor an organization that’s at a bar.”

Grant said he and Trunnell offered the Lambda Chi house — which has a pool table — as the club’s original meeting location, and the club was approved. He stressed, however, that the club is not only for students involved in greek life.

“It’s a pretty good distribution,” he said. “It’s not just us.”

Overall, Grant said he and Trunnel hope the club will grow to be a dynamic student organization. He said they’ll focus on holding weekly meetings this semester, but he hopes to host some competitive play and possibly reach out to other schools for some intramural competition next semester.

He said the most important thing, however, is getting students involved.

“One of the things with the club is just getting people playing pool, because a lot of people don’t have access to a table,” he said. “It’s about learning the game.”


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