Club sports: What to expect

by Carol Nasr

UCLA has a selection of club sports to choose from. Some sports offer both a recreational and competitive option, while others are strictly competitive. The list of club sports is as follows:

MEN’S: Baseball, Basketball, Cricket, Ice Hockey, Lacrosse, Rowing, Rugby, Soccer, Ultimate, Volleyball, Water Polo

WOMEN’S: Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Field Hockey, Lacrosse, Rugby, Soccer, Softball, Ultimate, Volleyball, Water Polo

CO-ED: Archery, Artistic Swimming, Badminton, Boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Climbing, Cycling, Dragon Boat, Equestrian, Fencing, Figure Skating, Golf, Gymnastics, Judo, Kendo, Powerlifting, Quidditch, Roller Hockey, Roundnet, Running, Sailing, Ski and Snowboard, Squash, Swim, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis, Track and Field, Triathlon, Water Ski, Wrestling, Wushu

The best time to sign up or learn about tryouts for club sports is during the fall quarter and the Enormous Activities Fair. Depending on the sport, some club teams are very competitive to join, while others are less selective. Both participate in competitions. Katharina Stahl, a fourth-year student majoring in biology and minoring in German, said, “Club swim isn’t really competitive; as long as you can swim, you’re welcome to join!” It is truly up to you as an athlete on how competitive and committed you want to make your sport experience.

Many people say the hardest club sports to join are lacrosse, men’s rowing, club tennis and soccer, but don’t be discouraged; it is possible to make all these teams. Some teams can be joined, but when competing, there is a very selective cutoff mark. Kate Armbrust, a second-year student majoring in business economics, said, “Both the men’s and women’s teams have a substantial number of people try out every year, especially the men’s team, creating a highly competitive tryout process. While certain sports are harder to join than others, we have over 50 club sports teams, so there are varying degrees of competitiveness. Some sports are more accepting of novice skill levels, but that’s what makes the club sports program so diverse and expansive.” Armbrust is currently playing club soccer for the UCLA women’s club team.

Why should you join a club sport?

Bach Xuan Ngo, a second-year computer science student, said, “(I) joined club sports due to the community of people who share the same passion as me and have easy access to play whenever I want.” Ngo is currently co-vice president for UCLA club golf and is truly loving every moment.

Russel Ahmed, a second-year student majoring in neuroscience and minoring in biology, wanted to have a constant in his life and decided to join club golf as soon as he entered college. Now he is the co-vice president of the club alongside Ngo. “Club golf allows people of all different skill levels, not super cut-throat like some other club sports,” Ahmed said. Club golf has a tournament with USC every spring; make sure to check it out! They practice on Thursdays and Saturdays.

Through playing a club sport, you can still have similar athletic experiences to those who compete in Division 1, or D1. Club sports coaches are highly qualified and have significant experience pushing their athletes at the same level as D1; for example, players have access to a trainer and are always able to lift. You can even qualify for nationals and compete against other big-name schools. Athletes and students around campus understand club sports allow the opportunity to continue playing their sport in college without being on an NCAA team.

A look into club soccer

The weekend of Nov. 16 to Nov. 18, the UCLA women’s club soccer team won the NIRSA National Soccer Championships 2023 in Round Rock, Texas, defeating Boston College. Competitors included colleges such as the University of Texas at Austin, University of Michigan, Northeastern University and California Polytechnic State University. Ambrust reflected and said, “(The days were) grit, determination, hard work, body aches and intense emotions — but if I had to say anything, I love my team with my whole heart, and we did the damn thing — nothing short of incredible performances and incredible feelings the whole way through.”

“Club sports is 100% my favorite college experience,” said Armbrust. A majority of her friends are on the team and the bond is irreplaceable. “Club sports at UCLA is definitely competitive, as we have one of the largest club sports programs in the country. Most of our athletes are extremely talented, experienced and skilled; most having played their respective sports for many years.”

Alternative options instead of club sports

If you don’t think club sports are for you, there are other options available on campus. Students can join intramural teams with friends or play pickup games, such as volleyball and badminton, at the John Wooden Center. Some sports such as tennis, gymnastics, squash and pickleball also hold recreational options, similar to practices a few days a week. UCLA intramural sports is a great way to meet new people and play without competitive pressure, regardless of experience.

Featured Photo via Daily Bruin Archives

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