Thanks in part to Title IX, opportunities for girls to participate in sports as part of their college experience have expanded substantially. Yet when most think about competing on behalf of their school, they think varsity sports. I’d like to take this opportunity to expand your horizons in case your radar is limited.
Two alternatives merit consideration, including recreational and club sports. Recreational play is for everyone, no matter what level, and is intra-school; most likely students will be competing in the various sports (basketball, softball, volleyball, etc.) in a fun school league. Friends, fraternity brothers, sorority sisters and dorm floors can create their own teams and register to play. It is great social fun and a valuable way for students to stay active.
But my real intent here is to focus on Club sports as an alternative for talented athletes who either may not quite be Varsity level or are indeed elite but don’t wish their sport to consume their college experience. Club is ideal for so many reasons.
The best way to introduce and advocate for Club play is to tell you about my recent experience at Club Volleyball Nationals in Kansas City, MO a few weeks back. What a fantastic few days. Hundreds of men’s and women’s teams congregated for the ultimate tournament after a season of local conference play. Dressed in their school uniforms and demonstrating incredible school spirit, these teams went at it with the same intensity and passion as varsity teams. Sure, the great majority of the teams could not compete with Division 1 varsity teams. But does that matter? The level of competition was good from bottom to top, and the top teams – WOW! They were committed and talented beyond belief and fantastic to watch; as fun and stimulating as watching the varsity levels for me and the so many other fans I spoke with.
Let’s look at the perks of club play:
1) Level of competition can be excellent;
2) Practices are typically 2 or 3 times per week as opposed to every day;
3) Conference play does not usually entail travel afar;
4) More time to hit the books;
5) More time for the college social life;
6) Additional time for engaging in other extracurriculars;
7) Easier on the body since traditionally less rigorous;
8) Overall, less stressful;
9) Offers a way to stay physically active in the sport of choice;
10) Skill improvement is more than likely;
11) Presents the same chance for team camaraderie;
I can go on.
So if you are the parents of a student athlete or a student athlete assessing the opportunities in your sport, be realistic and work on finding the best fit. Certainly don’t feel inferior or feel as though you are settling for less if opting for club play. You are in for a great experience.
As always, look forward to your feedback and discussion.