Continue the competition with Illinois club sports

By Matthew Sinele, Staff Writer

Along with the many registered student organizations and unique opportunities that the University of Illinois has to offer for incoming freshmen are a wide range of club sports that also allow students to get more involved on campus.

Club sports at the University provide an opportunity for all existing and incoming students to expand their horizons during the time they spend on campus. From the Illini Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Club to the Illinois Men’s Lacrosse Club, there are 38 clubs that allow individuals to continue to operate in a competitive environment at the University. 

By joining the club sports family, students are granted the opportunity to develop their skills beyond the sport itself. As incoming junior and midfielder for the Illinois Men’s Lacrosse Club Phillip Mackey points out, each member belongs to an organization that encourages personal growth. 

“I have found that the unique opportunities presented by club sports for those who excelled at the high school level but didn’t wish to pursue the D-1 college sports experience are invaluable as an outlet for the student body to come together and represent their university in a more formal way, or to bring together like-minded individuals to grow as a unit through sport,” Mackey said.

For sports like lacrosse that don’t have an official program for Division 1 at Illinois, the club sport fills this void and is extremely competitive sharing the same Big Ten rivalries that an official program has. With this in mind, some club sports require a larger commitment than others.

Member of Illinois Men’s Volleyball Club and recent alum Rocky Mayer gave an important piece of advice for freshmen considering a club sport.

“Fully commit to whatever team you may be on; the guys within volleyball that have fully applied themselves to competing with their teams have been the guys who have enjoyed it the most as well as have had the most success,” Mayer said.

One of the first questions that new students often ask about clubs during college is if one have the time to join these organizations and still balance schoolwork and friends. While some sports do require a large time commitment, others like the Illini Swim Club require a less taxing obligation.

Shots Takeda, incoming senior and member of the Illini Swim Club, has been able to balance two other RSOs, a job and his engineering workload all while consistently making nationals for club swim. The team has tryouts weekly practice and three events throughout the season.

As for balancing time spent with friends, it hasn’t been an issue for Takeda either, as it has provided him with some of his closest relationships.

“Swimming has given me some of my best friends from college and I’m excited to make more memories with them and the new freshmen to come,” Takeda said.

Some of the club sports at the University have enjoyed a great deal of success, such as men’s volleyball, which finished as the runner-up at the national tournament this past spring. Others are steadily improving each year to get to their desired destination, such as the men’s lacrosse team.

Whatever state the club sport that may interest an incoming freshmen is in, they are heavily reliant on the next wave of students to continue to grow their programs in the right direction.

Like any other organization on campus, what the student puts into their time spent with the club is what they will get out of their involvement. Club sports have a wide range for the level of commitment required to have a successful experience. 

By joining a club sport, however, the individual is provided a competitive outlet to continue to live out the passions that they developed through high school, travel to other colleges and the potential to foster some of the strongest friendships made while in college.


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