Many WashU students play at least one sport before arriving on campus. However, only a small percentage have the chance to pursue their sport in college at the university level.
Enter club sports: a competitive alternative without the time commitment or recruiting process of college sports. Looking to pursue your sport from high school to college? Want to stay active and make new friends? Club sports might have a place for you.
“If you love your sport and can’t necessarily play at the varsity level in college, I think club sports are a great way to go about it,” said club baseball player Jack Wineman. second year.
WashU Offers 41 sports clubs, including more traditional sports, such as soccer and basketball, and more niche options, such as powerlifting and table tennis. These sports serve as an outlet for both fitness and socialization.
“It’s a great way to meet people, because a lot of the social things I do come through club sports,” said second-year women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse player Olivia Garman. “You really bond with a team – like, you spend all this time training together, and it’s a lot of fun.”
Garman juggles two club teams, showing the versatility of student options. Ultimately, the decision of what to join often comes down to how much commitment each student wants to make. For example, the baseball club and the football club only have a few hours of practice per week. However, weekend games require players to manage their time well during the week.
“I think the captains do a really good job of making sure everyone can balance their studies with sports,” said second-year male soccer player Jacob Sherman. Sherman said each individual practice for men’s club football is optional, although players must attend at least one practice during the week in order to participate in games this weekend.
Because of all the options, students may have difficulty deciding which sport to get involved in. Some students will continue to play sports they did in high school, while others will pursue a new passion. Such was the case for sophomore Ella Brodey, who swam in high school but decided to join the women’s water polo club. Brodey wanted to play water polo in high school, but it wasn’t offered to him. Now water polo has given him a new community.
“It’s just a really fun way to be active and meet new people and be part of a community that’s outside of your normal friend group,” Brodey said.
Another aspect of club sports is the trial process. These can vary greatly between sports. For example, the Women’s Lacrosse Club and Women’s Water Polo Club have no tryouts, making it easy for members to join.
The advantage is that the team then includes players of different levels and abilities, which makes the group more inclusive. “We take people who have never touched a stick before,” Garman said of women’s lacrosse. “We try to teach the basics, so even if you didn’t play lacrosse in high school, you’re welcome.”
On the other hand, women’s club football has a rigorous trial process, with two open trial rounds and one closed trial before making roster decisions.
One club sport that has a unique setup is the Ultimate Women’s Club Frisbee. Women’s Ultimate actually has two club teams: Locamotive – which is a little less competitive and focuses on the fundamentals – and Iron Horse, which plays at the highest level and is faster.
Sophomore Leah Karush, who is part of the Locamotive team, said both teams provide a positive experience.
“It’s just such a big community,” Karush said. “People are super welcoming, and it was just a great way to meet people in my freshman year.”
Karush alludes to the biggest benefit of club sports: a positive social environment to meet new friends. No matter your athletic ability or experience level, joining a club sport opens up social opportunities, from daily practice to mixers.
“Even if you don’t feel very confident in your sport, you can always come and hang out in training and then move on to socializing,” Garman said. “It’s really great too.”