by LAWSON ROBINSON
Monday’s Rochester City Council meeting started per usual with the Pledge of Allegiance and Mayor Cathy Daldin addressing those in attendance. The Council and Daldin approved of the meeting schedule before Daldin welcomed Coach Tom Menas of the Oakland University Club Football Program to the podium.
Menas began by inviting residents to join in on participating in football for the first time on the campus of Oakland University. “The University was founded in 1957, it has taken 60 years to get where we are, but we are here now,” Menas said, adding that the program has been getting plenty of attention on social media through various platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Coach Menas went on to talk about the history of the club football program at Oakland University, including its creation in 2013, when student David Borawski and advisor Nicholas Bongers wanted to bring football to OU and set out to do so. “That is a tough road for any organization, especially with the myth lived that you cannot have contact sports at Oakland University.”
Nevertheless, Borawski and Bongers were successful in their endeavor as they successfully established the club football team at Oakland University. Menas then started to discuss the recent success of the program, specifically referencing the last four years.
Over the last four years, the Oakland University program has won 30 football games while only losing four. The program has won two national championships, in 2014 and 2016. In 2016, the program developed 13 player All Americans and 8 academic All Americans. In the past year, the program has grown to boast 40 player All Americans and 20 academic All Americans. Menas noted that they not only win games but also graduate their players, which is something that he is personally very proud of.
On top of the aforementioned accomplishments of the program, last year Bobby Saad received the honor of the Defensive Player of the Year Award and Coach Tom Menas was awarded the Coach of the Year award as well.
“We are the benchmark for how a program should be run. Oakland University has now taken that into consideration and as a result we can now provide this type of entertainment to the student body. We are gaining fans by the thousands every week and I think it really shows,” Means said at Monday’s council meeting.
Coach Menas noted that he brought the President of the club football team with him to speak to City Council to give his perspective. Menas introduced him by saying, “This is a student run organization. Let me make this clear, I work for a 20-year-old.” He laughed, “That’s fine though, he is a great kid.”
Like the other athletes involved on the club football team, Chris Polite is a non-scholarship athlete. Polite started by thanking all of the City Council members, the Mayor, and the citizens of Rochester for their support. “I think back to 2014 when I joined the team and we won a National Championship that year. We were allowed the honor of walking in the parade in downtown and I know it was a great experience for myself and for my team.” They were also allowed to walk in the parade when they won their second National Championship in 2016.
“We have an outreach to the community and we love it when they reach back out to us.” Chris noted their first game on September 9 before he finished speaking at the podium.
Menas joined in to note that the game on September 9 is a charity flag football game against the staff at Grace Center of Hope. The first official game of the season is on September 16. After that, the Oakland University Men’s club football team will travel for three weeks and then they are back for the rest of the season starting with their Homecoming game on October 14.
City Council Member Rob Ray spoke about the program. Ray began by noting that most of the city council members come from schools that are known for their championship football teams. “Those pedigrees of success were built on club teams – they all started with club teams. Here is another way for you to enjoy college football and you do not have to even drive that far. You get to bring this experience to Oakland University.”
Before finishing talking, Coach Menas noted that admission is free and he would love to see the citizens of Rochester at the game.