College club teams are typically student-run organizations that compete against other college club teams or local community teams. These teams may represent a wide range of sports or activities, such as soccer, basketball, tennis, rugby, ultimate frisbee, dance, and more. Although they are not officially recognized as varsity sports by the college or university, they often have structured practices, compete in leagues or tournaments, and may have dedicated coaching staff.
The process of recruiting to colleges is tough and demands commitment and diligence from coaches as well as athletes. Participation in club sports is one of the most important aspects that college coaches take into account when recruiting an athlete. Club sports provide year-round competition, exposure to more competitive play, and improved opportunities for athletes to be evaluated by college coaches.
Do College Club Teams Recruit?
Yes, college club teams do recruit players. While the recruitment process for college club teams may differ from that of varsity sports teams, many club teams actively seek new members to join their programs.
Collegiate varsity sports are the most rigorous of all undergraduate athletics. They are the most competitive and organized, plus the college or university funds them. They’re also sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Varsity sporting teams represent their schools in competition with other colleges and university teams and work to achieve national rank or recognition.
Some Club teams in Colleges
The NCAA recently surveyed 21,233 current college athletes, asking them if they played club or high school sports. Athletes in a few sports overwhelmingly reported that they played on a club team:
- Soccer: 95 per cent of women and 93 per cent of men played club soccer.
- Basketball: 92 per cent of women and 89 per cent of men played club basketball.
- Women’s volleyball: 91 per cent of women’s volleyball players competed on a club volleyball team.
- Swimming: 90 per cent of women and 88 per cent of men competed on a club swimming team.
- Baseball/Softball: 94per cent of softball players and 87per cent of baseball players competed on club teams.
- Ice Hockey: 91per cent of women and 86per cent of men competed on club teams.
What are Club Sports
Club sports are intercollegiate athletic teams funded and often founded by a university or college’s students. They will also likely, though not always, be sponsored by a college or university and have a lot more organization regarding leagues, competition, coaches, and structure.
For example, like intramurals, club sports may be organized by different academic schools within the college, fraternities, sororities, housing units, and various interest clubs or groups. Unlike intramurals, college sports are more competitive and require tryouts to work and play with other skilled student-athletes and coaches.
Reasons To Join Club Sports In College
Participating in club sports will make the people on your squad some of your best friends. You might be concerned that you won’t be able to find a team that can compare to the ones you played with as a child, but club sports will allow you to create new, wonderful friendships. Team dinners after practices, road trips, late evenings in hotels, and early mornings before games will all be part of your days. You will also feel more connected to your new team if you live near your entire squad and bond over the burden of college studies.
Even though club sports are more casual than varsity, they still require an immense amount of responsibility and leadership from team members. Club teams are primarily run by college students, with each team having an executive board that helps run the team. Some teams have volunteer coaches who give their time to weekly practices and tournaments, while other club teams are completely student-run and led.
That being said, players on club sports teams must have a high amount of respect for their teammates. It can be tricky when your peers are running the team, but when everyone’s on the same page and supportive, there’s no stronger team than that. Most colleges or universities have a club sports office—an extension of campus recreation—that oversees all club sports. Funding for club sports teams can be received through grants from the city, from the sports club office, and from dues paid by the players.
Club sports are far more laid back than collegiate athletics, or even highly competitive club sports. It can feel like a lot of pressure to practice and compete all the time in high school in an attempt to get a scholarship or advance to state finals. However, college students participate in club sports for the love of the sport, not to pursue it as a career or advance to a higher level. Club sports are great because they are structured activities that allow you to continue practising the activity you love for an additional four years while maintaining a competitive edge.
Steps for the Recruitment
Every person approaches the recruiting and decision-making processes differently, but there are some key steps that everyone should take along the way to successfully make a final decision:
- Cast a wide net early in the process using email to introduce yourself to several coaches. Get to know schools and squash programs through online research, campus visits, and conversations with coaches, team members, and their families.
- As you learn more, use the criteria shown above to narrow down your choices to a top list of schools.
- Visit campus to spend meaningful time in person with the coach and team members.
- Maintain honest recruiting conversations with coaches and work hard to discern where you fit into their recruiting plans, including whether they will commit to supporting your application.
- Understand and execute the pre-read and application requirements when instructed, taking all application elements and essays seriously.
- Never hesitate to ask questions if something is not clear or you have not heard from a coach in a reasonable amount of time.
One recruitment tool that many higher education institutions rely on is their student life experience. Often, campus recreation departments fit within that portfolio. While many aspects of campus recreation may impact recruitment and retention, one program area that may play an active role in these efforts is sport clubs.
While the dream of many young athletes may be to play at the collegiate level, the dream does not have to end if you don’t get recruited or choose not to play on a school-sponsored team. Just about all colleges across the country offer club sports that feature nearly all the sports within the program. Club sports are still collegiate athletics, just at a lesser pace and demands than varsity athletics.
Sports club programs provide students not just participation benefits but also leadership roles that offer exceptional opportunities for students to learn and practice skills that are far more important than those offered by most other clubs and organizations.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I get recruited to an NCAA DIII or NAIA school?
- On the athlete’s end, those aiming for this level of competition will engage in pretty much the same process as chronicled above for DI and DII hopefuls. Athletes who desire to compete at the DIII or NAIA levels should be proactive. Post highlights, contact coaches, and work with your own coach and guidance counsellor to find “good fit” schools from an academic and athletic perspective. .
2. Can I join a sports club at my college without being good at the sport?
- Yes. Theoretically, you can work with an intramural sports team. But it’s always a good idea to talk to some team members to gauge their level of competitiveness. It also helps to know the game and the team size so you can assess how much playing time you’ll get.
3. Is it too time-consuming to join an intramural sport in college?
- Most students say playing an intramural sport while still juggling their college classes is easy. You might have team practice a couple of times a week and a game a week. But, of course, it depends on the sport, your team’s level of competitiveness, the season, and your course load. More competitive teams will require a more significant time investment.