When many people hear about ‘club teams’ on collegiate campuses, they think of intramural teams, which are often disorganized fun time activities for students. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Club teams practice, compete, and travel well out of the limelight of varsity athletics. Many teams even pursue national championships, which are growing in size every year.

The NY Times has an interesting article up about the expansion of club sports on college campuses and the life lessons they can help teach:

In intercollegiate club sports, there are no athletic scholarships, no adoring crowds and minimal adult leadership.

Institutional financing is meager and hard work abundant, with dozens of volunteer hours required from the athletes just to put on a single game or match.

It’s college athletics without the pageantry or prerogative, and that’s the way athletes in club sports like it. They devise the practices, make the team rules, decide whom to play and when, raise the money for uniforms and game officials, schedule the hotel and travel arrangements and manage the paperwork.

“It’s a ton of work, but we do it because we take ownership of our team,” said David Gerstle, the player-coach of Yale’s club water polo team, which like most club teams operates largely outside the purview of the university athletic department. “I think it’s a more collegial experience than the varsity team model.”

Many parents dream of their kids playing sports at the collegiate level some day, but only a tiny percentage of college bound students play varsity sports. Club teams provide another option and can make the experience much more enriching. Millions of kids grow up playing sports they love, knowing they probably can’t continue to play in a ‘club/travel’ format unless they make a collegiate varsity team. Many may not realize that club sports provide that and much more.