It is virtually impossible to walk across any college campus in America without hearing about the latest football or basketball game. Many freshmen are still in “school spirit” mode from high school athletics. Supporting their college team is as close as it gets to being on the field, especially for the former athletes adjusting to life as full time students.
However, varsity sports are not the only athletic endeavors offered to students. The University of Idaho offers over 20 different club sport options as well as a vast array of intramural sports to all students. Odds are, if you are interested in a sport, UI offers it in one way or the other.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet new people, participate in a sport that you do have past experience or a passion for at a more flexible level,” said Sports Club Director, Gordon Gresch. “It can also be an opportunity to try something new.”
Most of the clubs have an open try out period to give first time players a chance to give the sport a shot before committing to it full time. The clubs can only let potential players “try out” for so long before they need to find out who is interested or not, so they can focus on the competitive aspect of the club.
“Anyone is welcome to play, we have extra equipment in case you don’t have any and you just want to try it out before committing fully,” said Women’s Lacrosse President, Willow Vero. In the case of the Idaho hockey club, which is technically a club sport, the level of competition is almost at a varsity level, Gresch said.
Gresch said the clubs won’t deny anyone the chance to participate, but the level of experience many of these athletes have are from years of playing the sport as a child and most first time players will just never be able to catch up.
Not all sports clubs are as keen for competition, however. Many other clubs, including the Cycling Club, are more about the social aspects of the sport than the competition, said Cycling Club President, Matthew Dabbs.
However, even with the focus more on social interaction and health benefits that come along with the Cycling Club, as a university funded sports club they are obligated to compete and put together a race squad, Dabbs said.
“If you’ve never raced or ridden with a group we don’t care, we are always glad to have people out. However if you are interested in racing it is welcomed and we could always use more people on the race team,” Dabbs said.
The Cycling Team competes with schools from Washington, Oregon and Idaho in the Northwest Collegiate Cycling Conference and most of the other clubs typically compete in similar conferences made up of clubs and schools from all over the region.
Joshua Gamez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org