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Monday, May 17, 2021

Varsity and club sports, what’s the difference?

Women’s softball and men’s baseball. At a glance, they’re pretty similar. However, there’s one disparity among athletics at Western.

Sports such as women’s softball are varsity, whereas others like men’s baseball and wrestling, are club sports.

The main difference between the two is club sports are student-run and varsity sports are run and financed by the school. This means many club sports have player-coaches, cost a fee to join and create much of their revenue through fundraisers rather than from the school.

“It’s not just a show-up-when-you-want type thing, we are trying to win.”

Conner Celli, club baseball head coach

One main factor contributing to sports such as men’s wrestling and baseball becoming club sports rather than varsity is the federal law Title IX.

Title IX prevents exclusion of people from not only athletics, but any educational program, based on their gender.

Senior captain and president of the wrestling team Kegan Mulholland said there used to be a varsity wrestling team, but it had to be removed because of Title IX.

Illustration by Shannon DeLurio

“When Title IX became a thing, a lot of not-as-popular men’s sports got the boot. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, that’s just what happened,” Mulholland said.

College offers students the opportunity to do a varsity or club sport, each offering their own perks.

Varsity athletes have the opportunity to receive scholarships, a more competitive atmosphere and a hired coaching staff.

Participating in a club sport gives players a much more relaxed atmosphere, while still giving athletes the opportunity to play the sport they love if they’re willing to work for it.

“Since you have to pay to join the club, I think you really put however much effort you want into it. You’re not under pressure because you’re not on a scholarship,” Mulholland said. “I didn’t feel as nervous before my [wrestling] matches or scared to let people down because I was just out here having fun.”

Softball player Emily Benson is receiving a scholarship through the school to compete. Although she is getting money to play the game she’s passionate about, she said it puts pressure on her to perform at a much higher level.

“Getting to college [the atmosphere] is really serious. I have a scholarship so they’re paying for my tuition to play, so I feel a lot of pressure. You need to do [well] and perform, and with club sports obviously you want to do [well] but it’s a little more laid back,” Benson said.

Although the competitiveness can weigh heavy on a varsity athlete, players are given a coach to help bring out the best in their ability. Clubs such as Western’s baseball team are student-run, and senior Conner Celli is a student, head coach and player for the team.

Celli said the team handles this situation well, but there are times when his teammates look at him as more of a friend than a coach.

“It’s hard for the coaches, to remove yourself from a situation that might be tough and talk to [teammates] as a coach rather than a player,” Celli said.

Illustration by Shannon DeLurio

Although the baseball team is a club sport, Celli said the level of competition is high.

“Everyone on our team has the ability to play, or could’ve played at some collegiate level,” Celli said. “It’s not just a show-up-when-you-want type thing, we are trying to win.”

Whether an athlete plays at club or varsity level, they are given the opportunity to continue competing at the college level in their respective sport.


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