They practice and play hard, are dedicated to something they love and sometimes travel. But best of all, they are undertaking a great experience outside of the classroom.
No, this is not the Miami Hurricanes football team – they are the hundreds of students who participate in the club sports program provided by the Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center.
With over 40 available for undergrads and grads alike, club sports offer an alternative student-athlete lifestyle than those sports at the intramural and varsity levels.
“I believe that there’s a sport for everyone who wants to get involved,” said Rhonda DuBord, associate director of recreational programs at the Wellness Center. “Students play club sports for so many different reasons, and the teams are so very diverse with different levels of interest.”
According to DuBord, when she began in 1991, there were only four club sports at the university. Now, interest in the program has exploded, with more sports than ever seeking to become registered through the Committee on Student Organizations (COSO).
Club sports are certainly unlike both intramural and varsity athletics. Whereas intramurals meet twice a week to compete against each other, clubs offer a middle ground for those with athletic experience.
“Club sports are student organizations run and organized by students,” DuBord said.
A popular misconception with club sports is that one must try out to make the team. Dubord said that this is not true. There are different specifications for membership in each club sport – some are more casual and will accept anyone who is interested, while others ask their new potential members to try out. Still, others such as the men’s and women’s soccer clubs take walk-ons that would like to practice and play with the team, but have separate travel teams for competitive purposes.
The Wellness Center organizes their clubs into four different categories – social, recreational, instructional and competitive. Different club sports meet the varying criteria of each category. For example, the badminton and cricket clubs have a very diverse, international membership. Students feel that these clubs serve a much more social purpose because of the commonalities in all of the students. In the past, the leadership in these clubs have used the opportunity to arrange enjoyable events for their members to get to know one another.
Clubs like lacrosse and baseball, however, are more competitive in nature and demand more out of their student-athletes. Golf and swimming are examples of recreational sports, while Tae Kwon Do is a prime example of an instructional club.
DuBord said that club sports also promote useful skills that are applicable to any kind of career after college. Organizational skills, time management, public speaking and self-confidence are all associated with leadership in club sports.
“It has a lot of impacts – the biggest [impact] is that it gives the members the opportunity to meet people outside of his or her major or school,” said David Cohen, the dodgeball club president, whose team recently participated in an international national championship in Las Vegas. “Everyone had a lot of fun. That’s what the most important thing was.”