According to Fairfield University’s website, there are 25 official club sports offered at Fairfield. The sports range from popular ones like hockey and baseball, to unique sports like Equestrian and cricket. Sports are America’s favorite pastime, a topic that on a small or large scale, brings people together. When choosing Fairfield University, it wasn’t the pure green, freshly mowed grass and prestigious academics that won me over– it was the club Equestrian team: FUET. The craziest part of my choice to attend Fairfield was that I actually rejected the potential to be a Division I athlete. Even though club sports are not the same as playing a Division I/varsity sport, they still offer so much to the athletes who play them.
If you don’t know the Equestrian sport, this is what you need to take from it for the time being: Riders typically compete individually. It’s just you and the horse out there in the ring. That being said, my choice in pursuing my passion- the “horse world” – meant missing out on a very important aspect of those weird and dreaded, yet highly memorable teenage years – joining a high school sports team.
In the fall of 2015, only about 11 girls were on FUET at the time. We were all different people overall and for the most part we were each at different experience levels. That was the best part though: passing a lifetime of knowledge on to those beginners just entering the sport. What made us all the same was our passion for horses and the shot to have our sport represented at a college level.
To be clear, I’m not belittling Division I athletes in comparison to club sport athletes because how could I? We all know how talented one has to be to make that cut. I also can’t speak about the experience of a varsity athlete because I never was one. However, I can speak about what a club sport at Fairfield has given me, and what I gave back over the past four years.
To me, being a member of a club sports team means freedom; the freedom to make your team and experience whatever you want it to be. I personally wanted to make my contribution something people would never forget. I always wanted to be there for my teammates who were also my best friends. While Fairfield allowed me to compete competitively with fellow horse girls, in return I gave Fairfield’s Equestrian team my all. I never missed an event, fundraiser, meeting or competition.
Club sport teams typically work with director Jon Dihinion to get the ball rolling, but the rest is up to the officers and the team as a whole. The difference between us and varsity athletes is that the teams initially start with a vision – a pitch. Upon approval to form a team, it is the students responsibility to recruit members and fulfill certain requirements.
Most club sports are small to medium size. In regards to FUET, the team didn’t just show up to practices; officers scheduled them. There were no busses to shuttle us like varsity sports. We drove each other at the break of dawn with the help of a Dunkin’ coffee. Our team apparel was not handed to us. It was created over months of idea sketching and research for the best silk screen artist, brands and embroiderer. There was no coach scheduling ‘mandatory fitness workouts.’ Our motivation for strength came from each other, but also from within ourselves. Club sports taught me how to run something greater than myself, and run it well, not just for the team but for the university and myself included.
It may seem like a whole lot of work for just a regular level sport. The reality is, the fulfillment of all these duties has allowed myself and other club sport athletes alike to put a piece of themselves into Fairfield for future generations to take on every year. So, it’s okay to not be a varsity athlete, because you still have a place to shine and become a role model within your passion! For more information about club sports, visit this link or email email@example.com!