So much of your students life is sedentarysitting in classes, studying, watching television, talking with friends. Yet physical fitness is a goal for many students, too. The cure for all those hours of inactivity for many students is participation in a club sport.
Club sports are hybridstheyre recognized student activities, such as Young Republicans or Asian American Women, and they have members, dues, meetings, and sponsors. But theyre also sports and recreational teams with schedules, tournaments, uniforms, and even cheering sections.
Mandy Maass, a journalism major who has been a member of the Rugby Football Club for three years, says she likes the aggressiveness and roughness of the sport.
When you hear rugby, your first thought isnt of women, she says. I think most of my teammates play for that reason as well, to defy the stigma of gender-specific sports. Most of us were high school athletes who just cant get enough competition. And the camaraderie of an athletic team is something that, once youve had it, you never want to lose it.
Rugby traditionally follows every game with a social, involving rugby songs and games with your team, the opposing team, and all the fans, she says.
Were a very close-knit group; many of my teammates are roommates as well, she adds.
While most are undergraduates,
the team includes some graduate students and a Ph.D. candidate in sports,
health, and leisure studies. Each year, one or two community members join
Not Just for Students
Club sports range from individual sports such as Hawkeye Chess Club, Sailing Club, and Tae Kwon Do to soccer, rugby, rowing, and ice hockey teams. In all, there are 28 different sports or recreational activities. Faculty, staff, and community members are welcome to join many of the clubs. Some clubs, like mens rowing and the Iowa Icehawks hockey team, are almost varsity status, while others emphasize fun and have noncompetitive activities.
The oldest sports club is sailing, which started teaching and promoting sailing at Lake Macbride in 1981. It has two levels of membershipa competitive team of undergraduates and noncompetitive members who are learning to sail so that when they are certified, they can take the clubs boats out on the lake.
The team travels to regattas around the Midwest, says Allison Hefley, a former team member.
As a recent graduate, she is still a community member but cant compete any more because the competitive team is for undergraduate students only.
Initially, new members learn the parts of the boat, how to launch a boat, and how to sail. A lot of our members never compete, though we do have one regatta that is open to all club members, she says.
Sailing Club includes families and single persons, students, staff, faculty, and community people in its membership. Thats what interested Hefley in joining.
By having community members, we boost our membership so were able to give more to the undergraduate students on the team.
I meet all
sorts of people my age through sailing, she says. We spent
weekends in Minneapolis, Ohio, Madison. . . In fact, Madison has a regatta
every year around Halloween so we were able to hang out on State Street
and watch all the Halloween stuff!
Running the Clubs
While the club sports are fun for their participants, theyre also quite a bit of work to maintain. For that reason, they tend to come and go, strong in one year but not in another, says Ray Beemer, associate director of Recreational Services, who handles the clubs monetary transactions and University contributions.
Students handle the scheduling, budgeting, and recruiting for their teams. Some teams are members of national sports federations and pay dues to them; others are locally based. Some teams depend on local sponsors for assistance.
Some clubs that field competitive teams have extensive travel schedules. While they tend to travel in cars, taking turns on driving, expenses tend to mount up, Beemer says. Other clubs might ask for as little as $150 a year for all expenses.
In a tight budget year, he says, University funding cannot begin to stretch to cover all clubs' requests. Sponsors, contributions, and dues must make up the difference.
Maass says, We
get funding from Recreational Services and sometimes from UI Student Government.
We have two separate seasons every year, one that coincides with football
and one in the spring. We also have a sevens season in the summer. A full
rugby side plays with 15 people, seven backs and eight forwards. With
sevens, you play with the backs only, so there is a lot more running.
We get sponsors for our sevens season, but for regular fall and spring
seasons, we dont have any.
Another club that must spend a considerable amount of time in fund-raising is the Rowing Club. Youll see them in early morning and late afternoon as you drive into Iowa City on Dubuque Street, along the Iowa Riverteams of men in slender shells, straining at the oars, eyes straight ahead as the coxswain shouts orders. While womens rowing is a varsity sport, mens rowing is a sports club.
For Chris Niro, a senior from Oak Park, Ill., who intends to study leadership or organization development in graduate school next year, rowing has been a chance to be a leader. Hes frequently the first man in the boat, taking the stroke seat at the front that sets the pace for all other rowers.
Rowing Club receives only a fraction of its funds from the University. For travel, uniforms, and new equipment, they must find sponsors and pay dues every semester.
Niro says its difficult maintaining a competitive team on club allocations.
We might be able to buy a new boat once a decade, even though we need them more often, he says. One oar costs $300! Rowing is really an expensive sport.
To help out, members pay $200 a semester in dues. For this, they receive all transportation to regattas, entry fees, uniforms, equipment maintenance, and workouts six days a week. Niro is hoping the club can arrange to have this cost put on students U-bills so that they can pay it over time, rather than all at once.
Niro believes the thrill and excitement of rowing are well worth the price. He describes what happens during a race:
Were in shells backed up to stake boats, which are anchored at the start line. A person in the stake boats holds each of the six boats lined up. Its absolutely silent. Were sitting in the boats thinking, Oh, boy, here it comes. I have to make sure I keep on pace, keep my stroke in rhythm.
When we start to row from that dead stop, the absolute silence explodes into noise and energy.
Soon were going 33 strokes per minute, Niro continues. By 1,000 meters were feeling good, but by 1,400 meters its Oh, man, I am hurt. At 1,500-1,700 meters, youd do anything to stop the pain. But then youre far enough along to hear the noise from the grandstands. In many races, youll have 2,000 fans cheering you on. All the rest of your team is cheering on the sidelines and calling your cadence with you.
By the time you see the red buoys, your legs are like Jell-O and you have blisters on both hands, probably bleeding. Your back is tight. But you cant give up then so you powerdig down deep, give it everything in the last few strokes.
over and you find out where you came in. You really dont know until
then. Its just a great experience for people to get involved with!
While most sports clubs are involved with such sports as lacrosse, hockey, kayaking, and sailing, others introduce students to new worlds of philosophy
while training the body at the same time. An example is University of Iowa Aikikai, a recognized student organization that teaches its members aikido, a martial art practiced by men, women, and children in more than 50 countries.
Diana Harris, a senior project analyst with the Engineering Computer Network in the College of Engineering, teaches aikido in some of the classes the club offers each week.
To me, the longer I practice the more I find in this discipline, she says. Sometimes I think I really understand something, but six months later, I find I didnt understand it at all. I dont play chess, but I think its something like that. It offers you multiple opportunities at any time to do different thingslike branches of a tree.
The organizations web site at www.uiowa.edu/~aikido explains the founding, development, and current status of aikido in depth. A primer by Eric Sotnack, linked to the site, says in part, Aikido is not primarily a system of combat, but rather a means of self-cultivation and improvement. Aikido has no tournaments, competitions, contests, or sparring. Instead, all aikido techniques are learned cooperatively at a pace commensurate with the abilities of each trainee. According to the founder, the goal of aikido is not the defeat of others, but the defeat of the negative characteristics which inhabit ones own mind and inhibit its functioning.
At the same time, the potential of aikido as a means of self-defense should not be ignored, Sotnack writes. One reason for the prohibition of competition in aikido is that many aikido techniques would have to be excluded because of their potential to cause serious injury. By training cooperatively, even potentially lethal techniques can be practiced without substantial risk.
Harris says 20-30 people are active in the club, but many others have come for periods of time to take part in the classes. People can join a national federation and practice in the classes to move through several ranks of aikido mastery.
We emphasize, though, that joining the federation is optional. We have a couple of people who have practiced with us for years and have never taken a test. Theyre not interested in that. Most people in the club are there because theyre really interested in aikido.
The University organization invites people interested in trying aikido before joining the club to attend any beginner classes for two weeks. The class schedule is posted at www.uiowa.edu/~aikido/schedule.htm. Members pay dues of $50 per semester for students and $70 per semester for non-students.
For students who want athletic competition but cant handle the time demands of a club, intramurals offer a much shorter season and activities that arent on the club list, such as paintball, wiffleball, and innertube polo. Many fraternities, sororities, and residence hall floors field teams for intramurals.
But for a true club sports fan, intramurals just wont do.
Last year I played intramurals instead of club sports, and we were done in March, Jimmy Ivacic says. For the rest of the semester, I didnt play. For me, thats just too much time away from soccer!
By Anne Tanner