by LIZZIE DEAL
For students who are unable to commit to the pressure and performance of Division 1 athletics but still want to engage in a sport competitively, club sports offers a suitable medium between varsity and intramural participation. Drake University offers eight different sports clubs including tennis, golf, soccer, swimming, volleyball, and ultimate frisbee.
Sports clubs offer students an opportunity to engage in a sport without the commitment of varsity level athletics. While prior experience with the sport is encouraged, it isn’t always required to join. Most teams practice a couple times a week during their season, and while attending more practices might give you a leg up when it comes to being placed on the roster to travel, most aren’t mandatory.
“Club sports typically has one semester that’s your heavy season, so for soccer, that’s in the fall,” Bridget Davidson, the Women’s Club Soccer President said. “When we’re in our season, we have at least two practices a week, and then typically one game a week, if not a double header, sometimes a tournament. Off-season can be like one practice a week, just for fun, and sometimes in the opposite season there are some scrimmages or games.”
When it comes to competitions, sports club games typically follow the rules of the sport in question, although sometimes discrepancies in referees can create some leeway. While some games might be officiated by certified referees, others could be done by Recreational Services employees.
“The technically should be the real rules, but that can sometimes not happen,” Davidson said. “When we host games, it’s usually student refs, so it’s people we know who’ve played soccer. They might not even be a certified ref, but we know they know the rules. Sometimes when we go to other schools, [the refs may] have some training, but might not know fully the rules of the game, so that’s kind of more like intramurals. Other games we have official legit refs, so it can vary.”
The main thing that separates sport clubs from intramurals is their ability to travel and compete against teams from other schools rather than just Drake students.
“Club sports has allowed me to see places I have never been to before,” Alex Doughty, a club tennis and soccer player, said. “When you travel with a team you get very close because it is all carpooling and fast food stops. When you arrive, you get to explore a new place with your teammates which can bring you closer together, especially if you get lost together.”
Sports clubs also offer an opportunity to get to know new people who already share a common interest, and can serve as a motivation to work out.
“It has introduced me to so many people, other freshmen and upperclassmen, and has allowed me to get some fun exercise in,” Doughty said. “I am also the type of person who needs to move around throughout the day, so I know when I am having a stressful or long school day, I get to go hit or kick something and run around to get my energy out.”
Most club teams are student-led and funded by dues, which gives the students involved more power over what they do and spend money on. Creating schedules, planning practices, and collecting paperwork all fall to the club’s president.
“The first thing you plan is usually games,” Davidson said. “Coordinating with other schools can be difficult, and you have to do it a lot earlier than you think. We have to inventory what we have, what we need. This season we didn’t have to do it, but if we have home games, it’s reserving space in the stadium, getting refs, that kind of stuff is all on me. Paperwork, travel rosters, travel forms so when we leave campus they know who’s with us and forms for driving to get approved to drive other students to places off campus.”
For students who want to play sports at a higher level of competition than intramurals but who can’t commit to playing Division 1 level sports, clubs are a low-stress option to fit some physical activity into your schedule.