For many, the love of sports begins at a young age, whether it’s through competing in youth leagues, taking gymnastics lessons or playing on a high school team. But athletic participation doesn’t have to end when high school seniors turn the tassels on their graduation caps. Even if they aren’t competing in varsity sports, many college students find themselves yearning for a team atmosphere and the challenge of working with others toward a common goal.
For those who seek that competitive outlet and a chance to continue pursuing a sport they’ve played since childhood, or even for those who want to try their hand at something new, club sports may be just the answer.
At the University of Virginia, more than 60 club sport teams satisfy a variety of interests, from competitive dance to table tennis to water polo. These clubs are completely student-run, affording their members the independence to balance academics and athletics how they see fit. And not only do club sports fulfill the need and desire to compete, they also foster the formation of friendships and unbreakable bonds.
Here’s a sample of UVA club sports teams that saw success in the 2015-16 school year while making memories to last a lifetime.
The UVA Sailing Association’s women’s team made its first appearance at the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association Women’s National Championships, held in San Diego in May. The team placed 11th in the Eastern Division, and returned to Charlottesville pleased with their performance and excited for the future.
“We are so proud of what we have accomplished this season,” Colleen Roney, captain of the women’s team and secretary of the Sailing Association, said. “Being the first team in UVA history to qualify for ICSA Women’s College Nationals means not only that we are a force to be reckoned with on the water, but also that we are setting a strong foundation for the next generation of women sailors at UVA.
“Sailing is more than a club sport to us because of the amount of time and effort we put in. These girls are some of my best friends, and it is wonderful that we can have as much fun on the water as we do on land,” she said.
The UVA Triathlon team capped its season with a 25th-place finish (out of 132 teams) at the Collegiate Club National Championships in Clemson, South Carolina in April – two places higher than it finished in 2015.
“The University of Virginia Triathlon team has given me the opportunity to satisfy my competitive nature while also forming my closest friendships in college,” Matthew Van de Graaf, the club’s president, said. “The team has demonstrated the excitement that results from approaching training and racing with a team mindset. Awaking before the sun rises, cycling for three hours on the weekend and traveling for entire weekends to race became much easier when I recognized that I was training and competing as part of my team.”
After winning both sectional and regional championships for the fourth straight year, the Virginia Women’s Club Ultimate Frisbee team entered uncharted territory by making it to the semifinals round of the USA Ultimate D-I College Championships, held in Raleigh, North Carolina in May.
“Almost everyone on the team had never played ultimate Frisbee, or had even heard of it, before coming to UVA,” team captain Brogan Jones said. “Somehow, we all stumbled to a tryout first year and were immediately attracted to the competitive, fun, amazing sport. The sport and the awesome people roped us in, and the club quickly became integral to our positive experience at UVA. This program created a fun, supportive and healthy community of talented men and women, and I have met my best friends through it.”
The UVA Men’s Ice Hockey Club finished first in the Atlantic Coast Collegiate Hockey League’s Central Division and advanced to the semifinal game of the overall championship.
“Being part of the club has been really important because we all grew up playing the game competitively most of our lives, and it would have been difficult to just give it up after coming to UVA,” said Raffi Keuroglian, who will be president of the team in the upcoming school year. “The team is also extremely close, so it’s given us a chance to be part of a group that truly enjoys being together, whether that be at the rink, on road trips or just socially.”
The UVA Men’s Club Lacrosse team made it to the quarterfinals of the National College Lacrosse League national tournament in Annapolis in May, narrowly missing a final four showing when they lost 9-8 in overtime to Salisbury University.
“Club sports teams provide an opportunity for students not only to compete at a high level without egregious amounts of time commitment, but also with the opportunity to nationally represent the University of Virginia and its values with your best friends,” Connor Robinson, president of the 2016 team, said.
UVA Club Baseball ended its fall season with a 7-3 record. Club president Bruce Briglia said the team rallied together to come out on top against numerous teams that had beaten them in previous seasons.
“Club baseball truly has a sense of brotherhood and camaraderie. It allows new and younger students to meet older guys, and a continued friendship is formed between teammates. Playing a sport is both incredibly rewarding and fun, but also keeps us balanced in our lives at school,” he said.