By Jim & Silvia Hatzell ’87
Penn State’s Club Sports Program offers a great opportunity for students who enjoy a high level of athletic competition, without the commitment of an actual college team. According to the PSU Club Sports website, students can choose from seventy-six clubs sports programs, including archery, juggling, swimming, and wrestling. This past year, over 6,500 students, faculty, and staff were involved in club sports at University Park. Teams compete with other colleges, travel for games and tournaments, and compete at a regional and national level. The program is run strictly by the students, for the students.
Our daughter’s experience with club field hockey has been wonderful. She played competitively in high school and considered playing in college, but realized she was not “Big Ten” field hockey material. In addition, she wanted a more balanced life between school, a social life, and sports. So, in September of her freshman year, after several rounds of cuts, she made the team and has never looked back! The friends that she made on her field hockey team quickly became her best friends. In fact, she will be living in the “field hockey” house next year with other senior team mates.
Club sports are an amazing way to achieve the perfect balance of competitive sports and fun. The girls are serious on the turf, but they also recognize that they are playing to enjoy the game and get some exercise. Even more, students have the opportunity to build relationships with those who have similar interests. College can be overwhelming for students as they are adapting to life in a new place with a bunch of strangers. Club sports allow them to meet new friends, practice a hobby, and release some stress from the hefty load of schoolwork that Penn State demands.
Another great thing about club sports at Penn State is that students can join a sport that they have been playing for years, or try a new one that they have never played. There are different levels of teams, with some being pretty competitive, such as field hockey, and some requiring no experience. Anyone with some interest in sports can find their perfect niche.
The club field hockey team practices a few days a week, and has games/tournaments a few weekends out of each semester. They participate in social events with other club teams. They fundraise for Penn State THON all year and select teammates to dance in THON. They also volunteer in the community.
As parents, we have had the opportunity to see our daughter play at Penn State and at a few local colleges. We also had the opportunity to watch her compete at Nationals in Virginia Beach last November. We enjoyed spending time with our daughter and her friends, and meeting other parents.
If you have an athletic son or daughter who played competitively in high school, we would strongly recommend that they consider continuing their athletic competition on a Penn State club sports team!