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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Students continue their athletic careers through club sports

Club sports allow students to stay active without the commitment level of d1 athletics

<p>The Southwest Recreation Center opened in 1994, and has since expanded to 140,000 square feet. It includes basketball, racquetball and volleyball courts.</p>

The Southwest Recreation Center opened in 1994, and has since expanded to 140,000 square feet. It includes basketball, racquetball and volleyball courts.

Students who didn’t wish to continue their sport with collegiate programs found a way to keep their same passion alive throughout college: club sports.

UF RecSports offers more than 40 sport clubs for both men and women, from archery to wrestling to hockey; they are open to anyone from experienced athletes to people just looking to be active.  

Students can choose how active they want to be within the clubs they choose to join. The club tennis team has over 400 members, but only about 100 active members. 

“We take all levels on the club team, but only the top people travel to tournaments,” club tennis president Alex Lyew said. 

Some teams coach themselves, while others have volunteer coaches. 

Sport clubs still give students the opportunity to represent UF and compete against other schools. Leagues are typically confined to the state, but it’s common to travel to play other schools for friendly, regional or national tournaments. 

The highly competitive men’s club lacrosse team practices four times a week during their main season, which takes place in the Spring semester. The team also travels to play schools around Florida and fulfill their conference requirements. 

The team also takes an annual spring break road trip to play schools they wouldn’t play during the regular season. This past spring break, the team traveled to Georgia and Virginia. 

“It’s a big commitment, but it’s so fun out there,” club president Thatcher Kelly said. 

Regional and national tournament travel are at the discretion of the league, but some clubs host tournaments open to any school. 

The men’s and women’s club beach volleyball teams play against other schools, but they also battle the general public in open tournaments. 

Their first tournament this year featured local teams like Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University, as well as out-of-state teams like Miami University in Ohio and the University of South Carolina. 

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UF club sports build connections through competition as well. While both the men’s and women’s water polo teams have great track records, men’s water polo team president Alex Kaiser said above all, his team has provided him with a fun, active friend group. 

“It’s a great experience with a perfect mix of performing at a high level and having fun,” Kaiser said. 

The men’s and women’s rugby team’s coach, Gary Byrne, stuck with the program for the last ten years. Last summer, he used his connections to take a few players on the women’s team to New Zealand to play against the women’s team. 

Campbell Lackey, the women’s club rugby president, said the trip brought her much closer to the team.

“It’s literally brought me across the world,” she said. “I would have never gotten to go there if I didn’t play this sport, and it was just a really awesome experience.” 

Contact Lindsay Schindler at lschindler@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @lindsschindler.

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