Varsity, Club Sports Offer Athletes Varying Degrees of Commitment, Coaching

Nate Levinson, Sports Editor

Fall varsity sports have been back in action for several weeks now, and with the return of students last week, club sports are starting back up, too.

Varsity sports — cross country, soccer, volleyball and field hockey — have all played their first game of the season after arriving on campus early for preseason practice.

On the club sports front, men’s and women’s rugby, Ultimate Frisbee and soccer have all begun practice in anticipation of their opening matches. Hundreds of Oberlin students will participate in those forms of athletic competition as the year goes on, and a handful of students will even play on both a varsity and a club sports team.

Junior Conor Narovec, who competes in both a varsity and a club sport, has unique insight into the differences between the forms of competition. “The great advantage in varsity sports is the coaching staff,” said Narovec, a member of the track and field team and the men’s club rugby team. “At Oberlin, the coaching staff is really good both at teaching you the sport and teaching you the finer points but also helping you balance your schedule and classes,” he said.

Yet, despite the coaching opportunity gained through varsity sports, many students still choose to join a club team over a varsity team. One reason for this is that the time commitment in club sports allows student-athletes the opportunity to be far more student than athlete when their schedule dictates.

Junior Julia Skrovan, a member of the varsity track and field team, however, feels that her team’s rigorous schedule is actually advantageous.

“I was definitely, in the beginning, worried about the commitment being too much on top of my school work, but it turned out to be a really nice part of my week, and I liked delineating part of my day to being more physical and active,” said Skrovan. Though many athletes share Skrovan’s sentiment, others welcome the opportunity to decide when and how often they want to participate.

“What I like about [club sports] is that everyone involved still cares about the sport, but it’s not as much of a commitment as varsity sports,” said junior rugby player Patrick Murnen.

Making the jump to get involved may be easier with club sports, too. “What I like about club sports is that you’re not scared off by that initial commitment,” said men’s Ultimate Frisbee senior captain Quinn Schiller.

However, that is not to say that club sports don’t require time and commitment, however. “The thing about [our team] is that we do take it seriously. We do encourage people to be in the gym, and we do practice a fair amount. We have tournaments that are really physically grueling,” Schiller said.

Despite their differences, the two levels of competition do have one thing in common: the camaraderie that exists between team members.

“I felt very welcomed and like part of the team right away,” said Skrovan.  Murnen expressed a similar sentiment about the rugby team’s culture.  “It’s a really good environment; [team members] are all very close,” he said.

Though both are unique, club and varsity sports each provide opportunities for students to stay physically active and be a part of a team environment.