Club sports offer rigor but no letter

Whether you were a star athlete in high school or you want to try competitive athletics for the first time, Yale’s club sports program may be just what you are looking for.

In addition to the 800-plus students at Yale that compete on 33 varsity teams, there are more than 300 students who compete for Yale’s 35 club sports teams.

These sports range from archery and badminton to Tae Kwon Do and wrestling, and the athletes often coach themselves and pay their own expenses. The competition at the club sport level varies based on the sport, but most are well-established at Yale and boast the same goal as varsity teams: winning championships.

Some of the club sports teams have long-standing traditions dating back over forty years. Others, such as polo, have recently emerged on the Yale sports scene. While the polo team has its own coach, practices and competitive schedule, not all club sports are this structured. But even those club teams that do have structure are more flexible than varsity teams, allowing participants to pursue other extracurricular activities.

The club polo team, for example, has a time commitment for beginners of about three hours on Wednesday nights, plus one hour of work at the barn per week. The time required from team members increases at the more advanced levels, but the schedule remains flexible.

Even without varsity status, club teams compete with equal intensity.

“The overall experience is one of fun,” said Alexandra Redding ’02, a member of the polo team. “Even among the different schools, at polo matches and tournaments the atmosphere is pretty friendly. But this is not to say that there is no competition on the field amongst colleges — there is plenty, just like in any varsity sport.”

But polo is just one of the 35 club sports — the other 34 provide something for everyone, regardless of background or skill level. The more than 300 people who currently play club sports represent a wide variety of experience, from former star quarterbacks to novice skiers.

Club sports also offer a great opportunity for those simply looking for a fun way to stay in shape. And most of all, like any activity here at Yale, they provide a great way to make new friends with common interests.

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