Club sports at Fairfield are a great way to play competitively against others, while gaining experience and having fun.

In order to play these sports, one must cross the path of John Paladino, associate director and sport club administrator at Fairfield.

He acts as a sort of general manager of the teams, keeping out of much of their day-to-day business, but still makes his presence known. However, the teams still retain some autonomy; each of the 18 club teams have officers elected to run the teams, all of whom are students.

“We try to provide the best experience possible under the university guidelines, under the department guidelines and still provide some autonomy for how they operate, to provide that leadership opportunity,” Paladino said.

When asked about how the teams are operated, Paladino described the ways in which it is student-run.

“[Student] officers come in the fall and spring with a plan of operations. I oversee that, giving the final yea or nay,” he said.

The officers do most of the everyday things, but Paladino is around to make sure everything runs smoothly; from making sure that the teams have adequate transportation to their games, to ensuring that public safety knows which students have left campus for their own safety and being a liaison between sick players and the teams that they are skipping out on due to their illnesses, Paladino does it all.

The club sports at Fairfield are a good alternative to the varsity athletic teams for players who just didn’t make the cut, players who don’t have enough time on their hands to handle the added load or varsity athletes who just want to take a step down for personal reasons. These highly competitive teams have tryouts, the opportunity to travel and are a great way to get involved in a sport that is more competitive than intramurals.

However, there are some key differences from the varsity sports. For one thing, there is no recruitment of club athletes, so those interested in participating must contact the club sports office themselves. There is also no pre-registration of classes for club athletes like there is for varsity athletes, so schedules must be done very carefully if a student wants to play on a club team.  One additional, more helpful, difference between the two is the fact that club teams often practice only two or three times a week, as opposed to the varsity teams that practice almost every day. This gives the players an opportunity to make time for the team, while also having a feasible schedule.

The sports clubs are run through the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association, a national organization that helps universities regulate club sports, making Paladino’s job much more doable. Certain club teams, like the baseball team, have higher dues because the league costs more to participate in. But, the higher price is worth the trade-off.

“[The club baseball commissioner of Fairfield’s league] is phenomenal, he organizes all of the fields of play, organizes all of the schedules, organizes and pays the umpires, so we pay them a larger fee,” Paladino said.  That isn’t to say that Paladino’s job is an easy one by any stretch of the imagination, but NIRSA’s involvement is definitely an asset.

In total, Fairfield has 18 different club sports to offer, all providing students the chance to pursue a sport, even if they cannot commit to a collegiate varsity team.

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-- Senior | Assistant Sports -- English: Journalism

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