U. club sports offer opportunity

Craig Gifford and Craig Gifford

Bowling Green State University, like most universities, boasts a varsity sports program. However, not all students are able to play varsity sports, so they turn to something else: Club sports.

Club sports serve as an alternative to varsity sports for students who may not be able to play on a varsity squad, but still want to play competitively.

“Usually our club participants have played the sport before,” said Thad Long, director of intermurals/sport clubs and PFH programs. “It’s providing students with the love of the sport and benefits of team sports like camaraderie.”

Club sports are different from intramural sports in that they are more competitive, with teams competing against other universities and are organized solely by the participants. However, most of the teams do not take the games as seriously as a varsity squad would.

For instance, members of the club men’s hockey team aren’t as concerned about winning and losing as the varsity team may be, according to team representative, Joe Simon.

“It is less pressure,” he said. “We plan for the love of the game. The results of being successful aren’t as big at the club level; it’s more of a personal enjoyment.”

According to Long, because there isn’t the pressures of funding, advertiser involvement and high stakes aren’t involved with club sports. This makes the game more fun than competitive.

“Club sports are still the purest form of sport out there,” Simon said.

However, there are club teams that are nearly as competitive as the varsity squads on campus.

The men’s rugby team competes for the national title every year and is going to play in the sweet 16 of the national tournament next week.

According to rugby team member, Andrew Riddell, the team takes the sport very seriously, with practices lasting two hours.

“There are times that we joke around, but that’s not during practice or during games,” he said.

Although the team is competitive, rugby, like most club sports is still laid back, Riddell said.

“There’s not as much pressure… we don’t have curfew,” he said. “I think once you get into it, you’re willing to not go out the night before a game on your own, though.”

While club sports benefit students who want to remain athletes, Long said they are also beneficial for success off the field.

Students act as officials for the teams, finding opponents, referees, and sites to play at.

“For those officers we want to provide an administrative experience that gives them the tools for when they get a real job,” Long said.

Most of the club team members have their individual reasons for getting involved at the club level.

A club sports program can benefit the university as a whole as well.

According to Long, one student came to the University from Hawaii because club flying and alpine skiing were available, which is a rarity at colleges.

“Club sports literally act as a recruiting tool to get people here on campus,” he said.

However, Long said athletes should not expect the club sport to act as a springboard toward a varsity squad, but as a form of enjoyment.

The track team will sometimes pull club track members, but most other club sport athletes go unnoticed by varsity coaches, Long said.

“Any varsity coach that wants our club athlete, that’s great,” he said. “Very rarely, in reality, have I heard of any of our club members going to varsity.”

Simon said he got involved with club hockey to meet people with similar interests, play competitively and continue doing what he did in high school.

“Club sports are basically and extension,” he said. “(Players) want to prolong their careers.”