By Liam Reilly
It’s no secret that sports are consequential to most Springfield College students. Having to leave their athletic days behind when they arrive on Alden Street can be challenging. Having to cope with losing an important piece of their identity while facing the demands of college is an excruciating task for anyone.
Enter club sports.
Club sports, which serve as a middle ground between varsity athletics and intramurals, offer competitiveness with a more relaxed atmosphere. Springfield College has 12 different options, including men’s and women’s hockey, co-ed ultimate frisbee, and men’s and women’s rugby, cheerleading, dance, e-sports, equestrian, club gymnastics, iron sports, men’s and women’s club soccer, ski and snowboarding and men’s and women’s volleyball.
Springfield club sports teams often participate in local and regional tournaments with some teams, such as cheerleading, equestrian, and volleyball, going all the way to nationals.
So while some view club sports as merely an activity, Adam Bentley, a junior at Springfield College and captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team, sees it differently.
“Ultimate Frisbee is a sport I never thought I would play, but it has become more than that,” said Bentley. “The family and culture of this sport is unmatched compared to anything I’ve ever played before.”
Men’s club hockey player Mike Brouillard feels the same.
“Playing club hockey has been the most fun I’ve ever had playing hockey,” Brouillard said. “There was so much pressure that I didn’t have fun,” he said. “But here I get to [have fun], and it’s the best time I’ve ever had playing the sport.”
Club sports serve as a perfect activity for incoming students who had to leave their playing days behind them. Compared to varsity sports – where there’s practice every day – practices for club sports are often two-to-three times a week and are spread out. Because of this, students won’t feel as if their lives are being taken over by the sport they love.
But now that Brouillard has found a home in the men’s club hockey team, where the stress of not living up to everyone’s expectations is gone.
“Being able to still play the game I love while getting rid of the pressure is amazing,” Brouillard said.
Lastly, club sports help incoming students acclimate to college. Given how low-key club sports are, it’s easy to make friends and form family-like bonds with teammates. Bentley experienced the camaraderie first hand, who joined the Ultimate Frisbee team during his first semester that happened in the pandemic.
After going to the first couple of practices, he found himself wanting to learn the sport more. “The team welcomed me in and it soon became apparent I was here to stay,” Bentley said. “The transition from high school to college can be rough, but joining a club sport can help you find your place with people who support you and want to see you succeed.”
Club hockey also helped Brouillard’s transition to college. “In this crazy time where a lot of people feel like they don’t belong, it instantly gave me a great group of friends that I knew I belonged to,” Brouillard said.
So for incoming students stressed about not knowing anyone or missing their days of being an athlete, look no further than club sports. Each sport offers a family-like atmosphere that helps students feel welcomed on campus. Club sports also offer a competitive experience that former athletes miss, while also having a relaxed atmosphere that varsity sports brought. They are more than a sport; they are an important part of a college student’s life.
Photo courtesy of Springfield College