Did You Know?: Purdue Club Sports

February 21, 2013  

Club sports

Members of the Purdue Fencing Club practice at the Córdova Recreational Sports Center. Fencing is one of 30 club sports that are available through Purdue's Club Sports Program. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)
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Faculty and staff have the opportunity to try a new sport or rekindle an old hobby while meeting students and making new friends through Purdue's Club Sports Program.

Club sports are non-NCAA competing sports that provide a level of competition between intramurals and NCAA. Sports clubs compete against teams from nearby colleges and universities, and they even compete at the regional and national level.

Thirty club sports are available through the program, with an average of 45 members to each group. The Purdue Club Sports Program is housed in the Division of Recreational Sports.

Clubs range from classic sports, such as volleyball, soccer and running, to activities like sailing, fencing, karate and trap and skeet. Though the clubs are predominantly made up of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff are also welcome and encouraged to join.

Josh Williams, senior in computer science and Club Sports Council co-chair of communication and club development, says the perspectives and experience of faculty and staff add a new element to the clubs.

"I would like to see more faculty and staff get involved and participate," he says. "I think it would just bring a whole new dimension to the atmosphere. Club sports are wonderful in that they are open and that you can participate at any age."

Daniel Leaird, senior research engineer in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the staff advisor of the Club Sports Council and the Karate Club, says he enjoys the ways that karate pushes his physical and mental abilities.

"The physical aspect of the sport is the easy part," he says. "The mental focus is a challenge to me that is very different from what I'm doing at work."

To join a club sport, faculty and staff must have a current membership at the Córdova Recreational Sports Center and pay the fees determined by the individual clubs. Though competition may be restricted for faculty and staff in some clubs, all practices and learning opportunities are open to participation.

Club sports are also nondiscriminatory, meaning that they cannot keep anyone from joining. Teams can hold tryouts to differentiate skill levels and to form competitive teams, but everyone at Purdue is allowed to join the clubs.

Leaird, who has been associated with the Karate Club for 18 years, joined the club with no outside experience.

"When I first came to Purdue as a graduate student, I wanted to get myself back into shape," he says. "I started off not knowing anything about the sport, and the group helped me get started."

Brendan Melnick, a junior in mechanical engineering and Williams' co-chair, says some sports, such as men's gymnastics, will even take beginners to competition. 

"When it comes to gymnastics, which is a sport that many think would require previous experience to compete, we actually bring individuals who have very little experience," he says. "All that we ask is that they compete in one event. We spend the time to train them until they feel comfortable going out and performing a basic routine."

Depending on the sport, faculty and staff members may be able to compete in alumni divisions.

"In men's gymnastics, as long as you have a degree from somewhere, you are able to compete on the alumni team," Melnick says. "The alumni team is always very good -- it's like the superstars from the college division who just could never give the sport up."

Though many club sports do have a competitive focus, and successfully perform at regional and national levels of competition, there are also a number of instructional clubs that place a higher emphasis on learning the sport than competing. For example, Purdue Outing Club teaches beginners the basics of climbing, kayaking, caving and other outdoor sports to prepare them to take trips with the group.

No matter the activity, Leaird says faculty and staff can enjoy the camaraderie and learning environment provided by club sports.

"It doesn't matter if you are older or new to the sport, try out a club sport," he says. "The students are a phenomenal group to get to know, and you can get involved and try something new. "

For information, call the Club Sports Office at 49-43118 or visit www.purdue.edu/recsports/programs/club_sports/index.php


Writer:  Rachel Florman, rflorman@purdue.edu

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