Western Athletics isn’t all about varsity sports. With 23 active sport clubs, students get a taste of collegiate competitions.
“[Students are] the wheelhouse of what sports clubs are,” Assistant Director of Sport Clubs and Departmental Assessment Clark Cripps said.
Sport clubs help give students the opportunity to participate in individual and team sports at various competitive levels while also allowing students to hold positions of leadership according to the Campus Recreation website.
Western sport clubs offer a variety of teams for both men and women, giving experienced athletes a chance to participate in a life-long activity or beginning athletes the option to learn a new sport.
Senior outfielder and pitcher, Josh LaRussa has been on the club baseball team for three years. LaRussa has been playing baseball for 16 years and was excited to continue playing in college.
“Our league is very competitive,” LaRussa said. The baseball team is part of the Northern Pacific Conference of the National Club Baseball Association. Western often plays against other Washington teams including University of Washington, Seattle University, Eastern Washington University and Gonzaga University.
Although some of the clubs have a limited number of spots on their teams, many do not make cuts and are looking to fill their roster with competitive athletes who are willing to learn. Some non-cut sports include rugby, ultimate frisbee, tennis, water polo and lacrosse.
The Info Fair is a great place for clubs to spread the word about their teams and to spark new students’ interest. Many of the sport clubs are looking to first year students to help fill the holes on their rosters.
“We got a lot of interest at the fair,” LaRussa said. “We got about 30-40 kids to come and sign up for tryouts.”
Oftentimes in their first year, student-athletes aren’t ready for the academic standards of Western. Cripps wants to know what the sport club administration can do to help students stay on track.
“I would love for sport clubs to have a high rate of success in the classroom academically. That hasn’t always been a point of focus for us in administration.”
Months of planning go into the details for each season. Cripps has been working with the teams since last spring in order to prepare for their upcoming seasons.
“We changed our leadership training to do it in the spring so that our sport clubs leaders come into the fall with a better understanding of how to do things so they can hit the ground running rather than trying to figure out paperwork,” Cripps said.
Last spring, leadership attended a six week training program to teach them how to fill out paperwork which included team rosters, travel information and competition results.
Traveling is often a large expense for sport clubs. Although the school gives each club an initial amount per year, most of the team budget is raised through dues and fundraising.
Dues are an amount set by each club that each player pays upon joining the team that help to cover team travel expenses throughout the season including regional or national competitions.
“Our goal every year is to win our league and make it to regionals. Then win that and make it to nationals,” LaRussa said.
LaRussa said that this year the team has extra motivation to win the league and reclaim their spot in the regional competition because they have missed the tournament the last two years.
Many teams participate in competitions outside of Bellingham, traveling all over the country as well as internationally to compete.
Cripps said that most teams can still have home competitions despite the remodelling of Carver Gym. Teams who play off campus or on one of Western’s fields will still be able to host competitions. Only teams who practice inside will potentially have trouble hosting a home event.
“We don’t house very many sport clubs on campus, inside a facility,” Cripps said.
According to Cripps, only three of the 23 teams have had their practice time or place changed.
Although some have already taken place, other teams will be having tryouts throughout the fall, while other teams take new players all season long.