One of the best decisions I’ve made in college thus far was to join the club rowing team. I played sports throughout my childhood, all the way through my senior year of high school. Athletics was always a part of my life. But with coming to college and all, I wasn’t sure if it was something I’d continue. I always loved being a part of a team but college was different—a heavier workload, more studying to be done and learning how to balance my schedule on my own. However, rowing has undoubtedly become a major part of my college experience that I am so grateful to be a part of. Joining a club sport can be an awesome experience, and there are so many reasons to join.
First and foremost, joining a sport is an incredibly convenient way to get exercise. The student recreation center is about a 15-minute walk from my dorm, and I have no doubt in my mind that I would not be nearly as active as I currently am if I did not have a team expecting me to be at practice. Being on a sport's team not only holds you accountable for getting in some physical activity, but it makes it fun! It’s more than just running on the treadmill and doing some core. You’re still playing the sport you enjoy and you’re doing with your teammates, all with the same goal as you—to get better every day. A club sport is a wonderful way to get in some exercise and have fun while doing it.
2. Meet new people
Especially as a freshman, sometimes it can be difficult to meet people outside of your dorm. As amazing as my hallmates are (they are really the bomb), joining this team was a wonderful way for me to get know other people across campus, from freshmen to seniors. These are people you spend plenty of time with (from practices to competitions to team bonding and beyond)—you get to know them well. The sport can give you a group of people to fall back on, a group of people that you can call yourself a part of. It gives you friends that you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.
3. Distraction from school
One of my favorite things about rowing is that it’s a break in my day from anything even remotely academics-related. When I go to practice, I don’t have to think about the paper I have to write, the exam I have to study for or the reading I have to complete. All I have to think about is practice. I can exercise, goof around with teammates, get in some laughs and get away from the overwhelming bubble of schoolwork that can encompasses me. Going to practice is a wonderful way to release some stress that might have been clouding my mind and simply enjoy the moment for an hour or two. When I’m there, the only thing concerning me is rowing.
4. Get out of the college campus bubble
College can feel like a bubble, especially if your campus is concentrated in one place, as opposed to being spread out across a city. It can occasionally feel like your entire life takes place in dorms, dining halls and academic buildings, with an occasional weekend outing or trip to Target. Joining a sport can get you off campus, and it can get you farther than a twenty-minute Uber ride. Some sports might travel all over the country for competitions or at the very least, all over the state. If you’re looking for an excuse to travel, join a team! In addition, some sports practice off-campus, and even getting off-campus for just that hour or two can be a nice breather as well as a great way to acquaint yourself with the surrounding area. A club sport is a perfect way to shake any stir-craziness you might be feeling.
5. Continue the sports you loved in high school
Just like plenty of other high schoolers, athletics were a big part of my life—soccer in the fall, track in the winter, softball in the spring. (Yes! I did not row before I came to college! And now I do! And it’s fun! New things are cool!!) Practices, games, meets—those were all part of my daily routine: one that I had grown accustomed to. Not only did I want that same structure in college, but I didn’t want to miss out on the experience of being on a team that I had truly grown to love. Joining a club sport is low enough commitment that I do not have to deal with the stressors and responsibilities of competing at a varsity level, but high enough of a commitment that I am still able to get that experience of being on an organized team that is so important to me. And while I did not continue with the sports I play, there are so many other students that do, because they don’t want to give up the sport they had become so attached to at home. It gives you the opportunity to compete and continue to play what you love, even if the environment has changed.
6. Release your inner competition!
We all like to compete. We all like to put in work and be able to see results. We all like to play against others. As aforementioned, I’ve been playing sports for most of my life—competition has been fostered within me starting at a very young age. And guess what? There is a plethora of people who feel the same! Being active on an athletic team in college is an awesome outlet to unleash your inner hunger for competition. Some people may say winning is one of the best feelings in the world—give yourself a chance to experience it! Or at least enjoy the thrill of competition.
7. Try something new!!
Like I said before, I had never rowed before college. Not even once. And now, I do it nearly every day. Depending on the school and the sport, you may simply be able to walk right on a team, even if you have never tried it before. Even if there are tryouts, some sports may have a B-team for players that may not make the first cut, still giving them the opportunity to play. While going out of your comfort zone can be intimidating, the end result can be amazing. If you were an athlete in high school or if you’ve never played a sport in your life, club athletics can be an awesome medium to try something new.
I feel extremely lucky to have joined a team that I have grown to be so fond of. I want to thank first-semester me for deciding to get involved in club athletics—it truly has been one of the best decisions I’ve made since coming to school.
Lead Image Credit: Penelope Benkard