With the large budget and team cuts being made to the athletic department of the University of New Mexico, it is comforting to know there are other options for students to get engaged through athletics during the brief college years.
Intramural and club sports on campus can be a great option for athletes and non-athletes looking to compete and travel in casual settings.
Unlike school-sponsored teams, club sports are not associated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Instead, these sports are student-run and have a student-centered approach to athletic activity.
Club sports at UNM include: men’s and women’s ultimate frisbee, men’s hockey, men’s and women’s rugby and men’s and women’s water polo. Some teams hold tryouts and most travel regularly to other states to compete while in season. Intramural teams, such as volleyball, tennis, and flag football only compete in town and with other intramural teams on campus.
Patrick Kelly, president of the UNM Men’s Water Polo Team, describes what a season long commitment to the club team looks like. He said that practices start a week into the fall semester and the team meets at Armond H. Seidler Natatorium four times during the week. There are scrimmages held on Sunday afternoons and Wednesday nights.
Kelly said that water polo is a sport that can improve a skill set gained in the water, but also impact daily life.
“I think it is perceived as being a very like difficult sport and a sport some people may avoid just because it is in the water,” Kelly said. “But it is also a really good sport to teach people how to confront fears of the water and confront fears of a player that’s bigger than them.”
Kelly describes water polo as having the gameplay, strategy and flow of a soccer game with a little bit more of the physical aspects of hockey.
Rules include not being able to touch the bottom of the pool, using one hand to touch the ball (with the exception of goalies, who can catch the ball with 2 hands), and having 30 seconds to shoot on the opponents goal once possession of the ball is gained.
“You can use this as a sport to confront limitations and push to the next level,” Kelly said.
Behind the scenes of recreational activity, the student officers of each club must present their own budget to the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico annually. Organizations then work closely with the Student Government Accounting Office to gain funding to pay coaches, organize travel and manage fundraising.
With a personalized club constitution and by following the rules set by SGAO and ASUNM, the students have total control over club activities. These teams are made by students, for the students.
The team will be training with new coaches in the evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. to prepare for tournaments in Colorado, Utah and a home tournament held at Seidler Natatorium.
“We definitely like to have a good time. The atmosphere has been pretty light hearted. Before we go to tournaments we do henna nights and stuff like that,” Kelly said.
Beyond the physical benefits that exercise provides, club teams can be a basis for lasting relationships and memories, he said.
“There’s this certain level of comradery amongst all the sports, I see the frisbee team walking around, the rugby team walking around. With every sport I can see this level of friendship and a borderline family aspect to each of the teams,” Kelly said.
For a full list of chartered student organizations, including clubs sports, anyone interested can visit the UNM Student Activities Center website.
Yana Apostalon is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @yana_aposta.