When classes finish for the day, all around Clemson soccer cleats are tied tight, golf clubs are packed up and students gather together for practice.
Clemson University Campus Recreation proudly recognizes 33 different student organizations as club sports. These organizations include fencing, gymnastics, rugby, sailing, basketball, soccer, golf and more. The teams range from competitive to recreational and are divided into co-ed, men’s and women’s teams that practice both on and off of Clemson’s campus.
Clemson students Ashleigh Keiser and Rachel Wohn participate on two of these teams, women’s club soccer and co-ed club golf.
Keiser, a junior graphic communications major from Greenville, South Carolina, started her first year not planning to sign up for club soccer tryouts. Keiser, who played all four years of high school, was burnt out and looking to join something new during her time in college. Knowing better, her mom sent her the club soccer tryout poster she found on Facebook and encouraged her daughter to go give the team a shot.
Today, Keiser is a three-year veteran and huge proponent of club sports.
“Soccer has been the most rewarding experience for me in college,” Keiser shared. “Soccer is my outlet for everything else; I can always count on having practice at 6:30 p.m.’’
Similar to Keiser’s story, Wohn did not originally plan on joining club golf. Wohn is a transfer student from a small college in Memphis, Tennessee, double majoring in parks, recreation and tourism management and sports communication with a study emphasis in professional golf management.
After playing varsity golf her first two years of college, Wohn decided to take some time off, but the COVID-19 quarantine had other plans. Picking her clubs back up during the beginning of the pandemic, Wohn decided to compete with the club golf team this fall to help her get connected on campus with the return of in-person activities.
“It is a great way to meet new people from across Clemson’s campus,” Wohn expressed.
While student-athletes are a core component of club sports, another important part is the Campus Recreation staff, specifically the assistant director of club sports, Rachel Jones, who aids in the daily administration that keeps them up and running. A club athlete herself, Jones played basketball at Rutgers University before earning her Master of Education degree from Clemson and joining the Campus Recreation team.
Through her work, Jones hopes to expand students’ knowledge about the club sports teams offered at Clemson. She wants students to understand the club sports program has a spot for anyone who is interested.
“The University offers a spectrum of different teams, ranging from those that competitively travel to those who offer instruction to students who have never played the sport before,’’ Jones shared.
Club sports offer more than just athletic training; they provide students with the chance to craft their own unique Clemson Experience and present new opportunities for students to find their community and a healthy outlet away from the classroom. While training is a central part of club sports, the teams also participate in different service and social activities throughout the year, allowing teammates to bond both inside and outside of practice.
“I think a lot of what keeps our participants coming back is that they find a lot of their friends and social network through club sports,” Jones said. If you want to find your family in club sports or are simply looking for more information, tryout dates and specific team information can be found on TigerQuest or the Campus Recreation website. If you have questions for Rachel Jones, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Cormick Stockham, a junior at Clemson majoring in communication.