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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Club sports both competive, chill”

    The campus sports scene might conjure up images of Lute Olson presiding over the bench, or of softball pitcher Taryne Mowatt’s indomitable arm. But tens of thousands of students will definitely not be suiting up for Olson this year or throwing more than 1,000 pitches at the Women’s College World Series.

    For those would-be student-athletes who aren’t content to sit on the sidelines but won’t be walking on to the football team any time soon, campus club sports offer an alternative.

    Mary O’Mahoney, director for sports clubs and family programs in the Department of Campus Recreation, estimates that Arizona hosts up to 40 sport clubs.

    “”Depending on the sport you’re talking about, some of these sports are very recreational,”” O’Mahoney said. “”We also have some very competitive clubs here.””

    Clubs run the gamut from possible old familiars, such as soccer and baseball, to sports like lacrosse, rugby and ultimate Frisbee that train newcomers.

    The clubs offer a different experience from traditional intramurals. In addition to their collaboration with the Student Recreation Center, many of the competitive team sports are paying members of national leagues within regional conferences.

    Far from being a neighborhood competition between fraternity squads, clubs like men’s and women’s soccer will travel and play against teams throughout the West to earn a slot in November’s national championships, held in Pensacola, Fla.

    Women’s soccer team president Emily Lundeen described the experience as a step up from intramurals, but below NCAA Division-I competition.

    “”A lot of (players) come from club backgrounds where they might not have wanted to play on a D-I or D-II soccer team,”” she said. “”They want to stay competitive and stay in shape but for a more competitive team that’s not just intramural soccer.””

    Accordingly, she said, competition for spots on her squad should be fierce. Lundeen said that out of the potentially 60 players she expects at tryouts, only about 20 will make the final cut.

    While she said her team aspires to a high level of competition, Lundeen added that club sports are a nice compromise between the extremes of a varsity commitment and the helter-skelter nature of pick up games.

    “”It’s not like your life. The D-I team, it’s all they do,”” she said, adding that in club soccer, “”you’re playing with people who are dedicated and like it as much as you do but don’t want it to be their life anymore.””

    If this still sounds intimidating to the prospective club athlete, there are clubs that offer “”no-cut”” policies and instruction for newbies.

    Emily Goldberg of the women’s ultimate Frisbee team advised students that if they’re looking to play a new sport, “”this is it.””

    “”(Ultimate) is the one nobody’s ever played before when they come out, so if you’re looking for something new, you’re not going to be behind on the first day,”” she said.

    Men’s and women’s rugby also offers newcomer training.

    Giao Quach, who splits his time between graduate studies in chemistry and badminton, said that while half his club is competitive, “”all levels are welcome.””

    “”Most people just come for fun, and we welcome that, too,”” he added.

    Until Zona Zoo issues passes for squash matches, fun makes club sports go.

    A lot of (players) come from club backgrounds where they might not have wanted to play on a D-I or D-II soccer team.

    -Emily Lundeen, Women’s soccer team president

    Chris Shepard has never attended a press conference after a game of ultimate Frisbee, but he has traveled with his team to Mardi Gras.

    “”For me it was one of the greatest trips you could go on, especially as a freshman,”” he said.

    In short, D-I athletics get Zona Zoo, club sports gets the occasional crawfish cookout in New Orleans.

    Club sports offer a scratch for many athletic itches, and, in Shepard’s opinion, they’re not bad for your social life, either.

    “”We’re really a social club,”” he said. “”We have this thing called ‘social prac,’ and it’s usually a party every Friday night. We’re a really tight community of 60 guys.””

    O’Mahoney shared Shepard’s sentiments.

    “”They hang out together, and after they graduate, that’s who they remain friends with,”” she said.

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