This week marked the beginning of classes, and along with them clubs and societies. As an athlete at home i knew I wanted to join something - for the friendships and to stay in shape, so at the Freshers' Fair I talked to lots of teams. Today I tried out rowing and swim team. After months of minimal swim training the combination of a new sport and a tough swim practice has left me exhausted, but it was great to be back in the water! I also joined less organized sports like hiking society and dance club.
This morning I went to rowing tryouts, and got to go out on the water for the first time. It was surprisingly fun, although difficult to stay in time with everyone. What really surprised me though was how many absolute beginners wanted to try it! Over 200 people tried out for the novice team this weekend. Of course, I doubt that all of them will decide to join the team.
Welcoming beginners was the common theme from every sport I talked to. Almost all of them have beginners practices or teams. This is so different than in the US, where college sports mostly require you to be a great and experienced athlete already. Sure there are club teams, but most aren't at quite the same competitive level. Club teams are, in general, completely separate from varsity teams, and don't give participants a chance to advance to varsity levels. They are more social than athletic. Sports here are also extremely social, as are many sports teams in the US, but there seems to be much more time for it here!
Overall it seems like sports here (at least so far) manage to strike a balance between training and socials, between being competitive and welcoming beginners, and between sports and school. This is so different than the DI school mindset in the US. Perhaps this way of looking at sports not just as an athletic endeavor but as reaching into all areas of life is a better way to encourage a well-rounded life as a student athlete. I'm certainly looking forwards to a semester here as a part of the sports teams!