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Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Club boxing offers community, lifestyle balance for students

GVL | Aida Dennis

Exercise is an important aspect of a balanced college lifestyle. Coming from high school structured sports, many students lose this routine when coming to a new environment on their own. Sports clubs are an option for students to continue to be involved with athletics and maintain a balanced lifestyle through routine. 

Grand Valley State University’s Boxing Club aims to offer a recreational and competitive boxing space for students.  

The club holds practices on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings. The first two practices of the week are led by their coaches Dennis Shimmell and Sarah Rae Batenburg.

Batenburg is a GVSU alum and former club president. She helps support the competitive side of the club. Batenburg was the first female to compete in the boxing club. During her time at GVSU, she won a Michigan Golden Gloves title and three United States Intercollegiate Boxing Association (USIBA) national titles. 

In these coach-led practices the athletes participate in sparring with each other, a live-action simulation of a real fight to prepare athletes for future matches. Then, on Fridays, practices are led by the club’s Eboard members.

The club’s vice president Ryan Landgren described a typical practice.

“(We) will start with warm-ups, which include stretching, push-ups, abdominal exercises, some cardio and shadow boxing. Afterward, we will break up into even groups for heavy bag drills. While doing bag drills, we’ve been having females who want to spar, and then later on it will switch to the males sparring who wish to spar,” Landgren said. 

During the club meetings, sparring is not required, but the club does focus on that competitive aspect of boxing to help prepare members who wish to transition to the competitive side of the sport. 

“People who come to practice can expect a hard workout, but they will be supported by their teammates, as we are all trying to support each other and make it a welcoming and fun environment,” Landgren said. 

The group’s atmosphere aims to be welcoming to all experience levels. Landgren said he was inspired to take a leadership role to shape a positive culture for the club and help the organization transition from a less structured recreational club to one that offered a competitive aspect. 

Landgren said the Eboard used to be short-staffed contributing to burnout. Now with more involvement and dedicated officers, the club is experiencing a turnaround in leadership and member excitement. 

The club competes throughout the year at the MGGA St. Mary’s Boxing Gym downtown, at an annual competition the weekend of the Superbowl called Pre Super Bowl Fight Night and at the USIBA nationals tournament. In the fall of 2022, Alexander Dietrichan, an international student who was with the club for one semester, competed at the USIBA competition. Landgren said it was his favorite memory in the club. 

“It was great because we had close to ten club members at the event to watch him (Dietrichan) fight, and it was a great team bonding experience,” Landgren said.

Landgren said the club has given him a sense of community at GVSU and is a large reason why he stayed at school after finding friends and getting involved. 

“It unlocked opportunities for me in the amateur boxing world as I’ve gotten offered to announce jobs across west Michigan over the summer,” Landgren said.

The Eboard said boxing is an excellent way to relieve stress and stay active. It also helps students keep a balanced lifestyle like maintaining a balanced diet to stay at their match weight and be fueled for practice. Outside of practice, the club members do cardio workouts to increase stamina for fights. 

Landgren said he hopes to see this momentum in competition interest and involvement continue by expanding the organization and maintaining new members.  

“I also hope to see us succeed at competitions this year as we managed to be undefeated in the previous school year. I would like to see more members compete this year,” Landgren said. “Most importantly, I really hope that we keep the happy environment that we have this year.” 

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