Former athletes continue athletic careers through club sports

Third-year Kinesiology major Zane Youngren (left) and fourth-year Mechanical Engineering major Kevin Sabbe (right) joke after a play during pickup at Dixon Recreation Center on August 8 2023. Both Sabbe and Youngren are members of Oregon State’s club volleyball team and speak highly of their experiences playing club sports.
Third-year Kinesiology major Zane Youngren (left) and fourth-year Mechanical Engineering major Kevin Sabbe (right) joke after a play during pickup at Dixon Recreation Center on August 8 2023. Both Sabbe and Youngren are members of Oregon State’s club volleyball team and speak highly of their experiences playing club sports.
Sam Nicklous

Athletic careers are not over just because you didn’t commit to playing sports in college. Club sports at Oregon State University offer athletes the opportunity to continue their passion for sports and competition throughout their college experience. 

Information regarding individual sports can be found online at by going to the Sports Clubs section. Those that want to speak with players or coaches in person, can attend the 2024 Recreational Sports Fair at Student Legacy Park on Sept. 25. from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

OSU offers 39 club sports that compete at high levels against other universities in the area, within different leagues, and across the nation. 

“Clubs sports in general is run through or operated through rec sports and it allows different groups of athletes or folks that are interested in trying out a new activity to come together in a team atmosphere and compete against other colleges or universities,” said Miranda Schmitz, former player and an assistant coach of the Women’s Rugby Club. 

Each club sport offers unique opportunities for people interested in participating in sports on campus.

“Most people start playing rugby at the collegiate level so it’s a very welcoming atmosphere and it’s a really great way for students to meet new people, make new friends, stay active, and learn a new sport where they can also continue some of their prior hopes and aspirations of playing a sport in college,” Schmitz said.

OSU Women’s Rugby Club team captain, Grace Galles, emphasized the inclusivity of the rugby club. 

“We are one of the only clubs, at least when we started it last year, that not only includes people who identify as women and female but it also includes people who are trans or non-binary,” Galles said. “We’re a really inclusive club in the way that we think that rugby is for everyone no matter what your identity is so we want to encompass all of that in rugby as a sport especially now as it becomes more contentious.”

Due to rugby, as well as other club sports, being atypical in the United States, collegiate club sports allow for more opportunities for athletes to achieve greater achievements in said sports.

“Rugby being a relatively new, or upcoming sport in the U.S. there’s not a lot of women’s teams in colleges, period, (and) much less in high schools,” Galles said. “We have a whole Olympic team. We have a whole national team that plays amazingly at a bunch of different levels in different countries. For a lot of these teams the only way that people start with rugby, and how they pick people to play on the Olympic team is through college rugby.”

Many of the club sports will be involved in a league comprising teams in Oregon, Washington, and California, but can qualify for national tournaments and travel further. 

As well as being involved in leagues, the clubs find ways to involve locals within their programs.

“We are the closest mixture to a D1 program without having the same level of time commitment where we still get to travel and have large competitions,” said Kevin Sabbe, president of the Men’s Volleyball club. “We sponsor, host clinics, host open gyms, try to really reach out to the community and create men’s volleyball as a much larger sport within our area, on top of giving all the students an experience where they’re able to give back and improve their own skills.”

Having opportunities to travel and compete with their teammates regularly has allowed for greater relationships to be formed among club members. 

“I live on the east coast out in Pennsylvania, so I came into an environment that was nothing that I was used to,” said Dylan VanShaick, Men’s Volleyball setter. “I didn’t know anyone so [Men’s Volleyball] was an easy way for me to make friends because we already shared that one thing in common. I have some really good friends now that I also play volleyball with and that I travel with weekly and get to see the Pacific Northwest with them.”

For international students at Oregon State, participation in club sports allows them to build connections in a new culture and feel close to their teammates in the OSU community. 

 “I literally knew no one, no peers, no nothing,” said Moises Villarread, international student and Men’s Volleyball player. “Coming from a totally different culture, I feel like back home the only thing that I kept was volleyball because I used to play volleyball a lot with my dad. This was a really good way for me to transition into this new, different world that I had no clue about. I feel like with this I have made a lot of friends. I basically now live with three guys that I had no clue existed (before) volleyball.”

OSU offers a variety of sports for all students to be involved in regardless of experience.

“When I came into college I said I wanted to try a new sport that I really hadn’t done much of and decided that I just wanted to play volleyball,” said Aidan Broyles, middle blocker for the club. “So, I came to the club and I came with so many other people that really hadn’t had that much experience before and we progressed together. I feel like I’ve created a lot of friendships with people that have the same interests as me.”

Lake Larsen, the current defensive coordinator for the Men’s Lacrosse Club, describes the relationships that players build as strong and long-lasting. 

“Similar to just doing anything, any club, or any event on campus you immediately get to meet new people that you wouldn’t have otherwise met from different majors, all different years,” Larsen said. “You can make friends that become groomsmen in your wedding.”

Players and coaches build relationships with not only each other but with their universities as well. Despite club teams not having varsity status at the intercollegiate athletic level, participating athletes become representatives for their schools and form a connection that others may not achieve.

“There’s a lot of people who just go here for four years and don’t really care and just leave but then I feel connected to my university because I wore the name of my university on my chest when I played lacrosse,” Larsen said, reflecting on his playing experience. 

OSU offers many of the common sports that are played in high school including volleyball, lacrosse, baseball, soccer, and tennis as club options. Club sports also include some of the Olympic sports and atypical activities including archery, rugby, equestrian, polo, judo, and sailing.

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