October 27, 2017
Men's rugby game

Students dedicate hours to club and intramural sports to pursue athletic passions while making new friends and developing leadership skills

Senior Courtney Nelson never played rugby competitively before coming to Catholic University. A biomedical engineering major, Nelson was looking for a sport that would help her stay in shape while maintaining a busy academic schedule. So during her freshman year, she joined the women’s rugby team, a club sport at Catholic University.

“Most players on our team come to play having known nothing about the sport,” said Nelson, who is now president of the team. “We teach you everything you need to know to play a safe and fun rugby game. After four years on the team I still get excited to get on the field.”

Club sports at Catholic University provide students the opportunity to dedicate their time to practices and games because they love athletics and the friendships they develop through a sport. Eleven club sports teams (see sidebar for the full list), which are funded through students’ activity fees, compete throughout the academic year against other colleges and universities. Students take ownership of their teams through leadership roles that can involve organizing practices, making travel arrangements, hiring coaches, recruiting players, and setting up schedules.

Catholic University’s club teams are often quite successful. Many of the teams, such as men’s lacrosse and women’s ultimate Frisbee, have won conference or regional championships, or have been nationally ranked and gone on to play in national tournaments. 

Nelson explains that her team practices two to three times a week for two hours at a time. As team president, she works with an executive board of players to manage the team’s schedule against other colleges and universities, order equipment, arrange for team transportation, and more. In the fall, the team participate in league games. In the spring, the team will hit the road to take part in tournaments. Last spring the team traveled to Rhode Island for the Beast of the East Collegiate Rugby Tournament.  

“All club sports are student initiated and student run with officers in place to provide the organizational leadership for their club’s activities,” explains the University’s Fitness, Recreational Sports and Wellness Director Wendy White. “Catholic University’s club teams enhance the overall student experience through competition, sportsmanship, leadership, and fun recreation, as well as provide the opportunity for students to participate and excel in a team setting while promoting personal growth.”

In many ways, club athletes are as dedicated as varsity athletes. They spend hours not only playing their sport, but organizing and managing all other aspects of the team’s activities. For students looking for another athletic option, the University also offers intramural sports, which take place entirely on campus.

During the 2016-17 academic year, nearly 1,000 students participated in intramural sports. Intramural recreation sports teams — such as flag football, soccer, basketball, and volleyball — challenge other on-campus teams in the same sport. Students can be found on Catholic University’s fields and courts as late as midnight having fun and developing habits of participation in physical activity that can carry over into everyday living.

Junior Antonio Mirandes loves soccer so much that last spring he played in three separate intramural indoor soccer leagues. He played every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night. He says intramural sports at Catholic University are very well organized and provide a structure to athletics. Instead of gathering informally to play a sport, students sign up for intramurals so they can regularly compete in a friendly, coordinated environment.

Senior Rebecca Rizkalla says that she spends about five hours a week playing intramural sports, depending on the season. She’s participated in intramural volleyball, football, softball, and soccer.

“Intramurals are popular here because a lot of students who played sports [in high school] have that competitive nature,” she explains.

Rizkalla adds that “making true friends” has been her favorite part of her experience.

“I was already close with the people who I formed a team with,” she says. “But after playing together for three years, the bonds grew stronger and stronger.”