Need an activity? Club sports could be for you
Many WashU students play at least one sport before arriving on campus. However, only a small percent are fortunate enough to continue their sport in college at the varsity level.
Enter club sports: a competitive alternative without the time commitment or recruitment process of varsity sports. Looking to continue your high school sport in college? Want to stay active and make new friends? Club sports might have a spot for you.
“If you love your sport and you can’t necessarily play at the varsity level in college, I think club sports is a great way to go about it,” sophomore club baseball player Jack Wineman said.
WashU offers 41 club sports, including more mainstream 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 socializing.
“It’s a great way to meet people, because a lot of the social things that I do are through club sports,” sophomore women’s club soccer and women’s club lacrosse player Olivia Garman said. “You really bond with a team — like, you’re spending all this time practicing together, and that’s a lot of fun.”
Garman juggles two club teams, showing the versatility of students’ options. Ultimately, the decision of what to join frequently comes down to how big of a commitment each student wants to make. For example, club baseball and club soccer only have a few hours of practice each week. However, games on weekends force players to manage their time well during the week.
“I think the captains do a really good job of making sure that everyone can balance their academics with the sport,” sophomore men’s club soccer player Jacob Sherman said. Sherman said that each individual practice for club men’s soccer is optional, although players must show up to at least one practice during the week to be able to play in the games that weekend.
Because of all the options, students may have a tough time deciding which sport to get involved in. Some students will continue sports they played in high school, while others will pick up a new passion. This was the case for sophomore Ella Brodey, who swam in high school but decided to join women’s club water polo. Brodey wanted to do water polo in high school, but it was not offered. Now, water polo has given her 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 your normal friend group,” Brodey said.
Another aspect of club sports is the tryout process. These can vary greatly between the sports. For example, women’s club lacrosse and women’s club water polo have no tryouts, making it easier for members to join.
The benefit of this is that the team then includes players of different skill levels and abilities, making the group more inclusive. “We take people who have never touched a stick before,” Garman said about womens’ lacrosse. “We’re trying to teach the fundamentals, so even if you didn’t play lacrosse in high school, you’re welcome to join.”
On the other hand, women’s club soccer has a rigorous tryout process, with two rounds of open tryouts and a closed tryout before making roster decisions.
One club sport that has a unique setup is women’s club ultimate frisbee. Women’s ultimate actually has two club teams: Locamotive — which is a little less competitive and is focused on fundamentals — and Iron Horse, which plays at the highest level and is more fast-paced.
Sophomore Leah Karush, who is on the Locamotive team, said that both teams offer a positive experience.
“It’s just such a great community,” Karush said. “People are super welcoming, and it was just a great way to meet people my freshman year.”
Karush hints at possibly the biggest benefit to 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 super confident about your sport, you can always just come and hang out at practice and then go to social stuff,” Garman said. “That’s really awesome, too.”