Feature Article

The Bonding Power of Collegiate Club Sports

After walking off the field of her last high school soccer game, Meghan Schroeder thought that she would never play competitively again. It wasn’t until she arrived at the University of Oregon in the fall of 2015 that she realized that she might have another chance.

Universities all around the nation include incoming students who must adjust to a new life without the dedication to the life-long, competitive sport that they pursued in high school. Like Schroeder, these students may not need to play at the intense, collegiate varsity level. On the other hand, they are not interested in the semi-competitive level of intramural sports.

However, some may just be unaware of the power of collegiate club sports.

When Schroeder enrolled at the University of Oregon, she had no idea that the school featured a collegiate women’s club soccer team. Luckily, her roommate shared her passion for soccer, and each day after tryouts, she would try to convince Schroeder to join her.

Only on the last day of tryouts did Schroeder finally have a change of heart. While she was at a major disadvantage to the other competing girls who had been there since the first day, her determination shone through.

Schroder remembers; “After the coach told me that I made the team, I knew my college experience was completed changed, just in the way I wanted it to be.”

After that day, Schroeder finally saw just how unique and empowering collegiate club sports are.

“The glory of club sports is that no one is forcing you to be there,” she says. “There are no scholarships, fancy gear, or huge crowds to keep you going, everything is self-motivation. And that’s why I love it.”

Collegiate club sports are much different than both varsity level and intramural sports. What sets them apart is that each player is paying to be there and the coaches are not being paid at all. This makes both the coaches and players drive and passion for the team unmatchable. Even so, Schroeder has played under the direction of the same head and assistant coaches for the past three years now, further strengthening her bond and commitment to the team.

Each fall, the women’s and men’s club soccer teams travel around the country to compete in both regionals and nationals. In the fall, the UO women’s team won nationals in Arizona. She remembers as a freshman, “it was so cool to see people from all over the country, sharing the same passion as me.”

Recently finishing up her junior year, Schroeder will begin next fall as a captain. When she looks back on her past three years playing on the club team, she realizes that it has shaped her entire college experience and “created a bond not just as a team, but as a family.”