Intimidation begone, sports clubs welcome all

By Lillian Small

While there are many clubs and organizations for students to get involved in at Lewis & Clark, sometimes the world of athletics can seem closed off to people with little experience. If you were not an athlete in high school, you may feel intimidated or put off by the seriousness of playing sports in college. If any of these statements apply to you, I have a solution for you: club sports. 

LC has myriad club sports, most   of which are very easy to join, even if you have little to no experience. I had the pleasure of speaking with the rock climbing team’s Cece Dobbertin ’27 and Kevin Matisheck ’27, who currently serves as a staff writer for The Mossy Log.

“I had no prior experience climbing. I did a little bit in Colorado but nothing too major,” Matisheck said. “The climbing team has been really helpful and accessible in its ability to get me out there on the wall. We do warmups and workouts. If you want to get climbing it’s a great way to do it.”

Dobbertin, on the other hand, had plenty of climbing experience and knew it was their preferred form of exercise.

“I joined (the team my) first semester. I was on a climbing team at my gym at home for six years, starting in seventh grade,” Dobbertin said. “I’m trying to keep it up because it’s what I love to do. It’s great that it’s super accessible here.”

Another of LC’s club athletes is Natasha Engelhardt ’27, who plays on the rugby team.

Engelhardt jokingly recalled being “peer-pressured” into joining the rugby team at the fall semester club fair. She had never played rugby before, and had not played sports in high school. As a first year coming in with no knowledge of the sport, she stressed her relief with how laid-back and team focused the club was.

“They are very much into how to stay active, and it’s more of a team effort. They break down everything so you understand how it all works,” Engelhardt said. “You get to learn a lot about other people and build a community.”

Yet it would be a mistake to think that club athletes miss out on competing; rugby and the climbing team both have games and competitions coming up this semester. Engelhardt explained the difference between the rugby seasons. Being a year-round sport, it is split into two categories: 15s and sevens. Both numbers refer to the players on the field on a given team. 

“(The games) are with the people around Oregon; it’s usually at Reed or Willamette. With 15s, the games are usually on Saturday. It’s generally one or two games in a day,” Engelhardt said. “With sevens, it’s more of a tournament every game, so you’ll play, like, five games in one day.”

Dobbertin described the competitive side of climbing for the team.

“I’ve done a lot of competitive climbing in the past, not with this division, so I think it’ll look like us all going there as a team and basically we’ll have three hours to climb as many as we can and get the points for our five hardest (routes),” Dobbertin said.

Matisheck expressed his appreciation for the unique competitive environment offered by the climbing team, different than in other sports.

“One of the best things about the climbing team is that it provides an outlet for climbing but you don’t have to go to competitions,” Matisheck said. “You have the option but not the obligation to attend these events. That’s one of the things that’s very special about the climbing team.”

All of the athletes I talked to had very positive things to say about the communities that club sports introduced them to, and even the communities of other teams. 

“It’s very easygoing. (The community) is very kind and supportive. It’s definitely a great bonding experience because it’s very contact-heavy,” Engelhardt said about the rugby team. 

Joining a new sport with no prior experience can seem intimidating, but Matischeck encourages people to give it a shot.

“The best way to start climbing is by joining the climbing team!” Matisheck said. “People on the team are super open to new members and very accepting and willing to push them, but also to allow them space to go and climb.” 

 We discussed the rising popularity of the climbing team with the influx of interested new students this year.

“We have maybe two or three times more participants on the team than they did last year,” Dobbertin said. “New people are joining, and, from what I gather, having a very fun and chill time.”

The offerings do not stop at rugby and climbing, with clubs like Pugilism and Ultimate Frisbee catering to a wide breadth of student interests. If you are looking to join a sport for fun, good exercise and a fantastic community of supportive teammates, club sports may be the way to go. 

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