Club sports put spotlight on unconventional activities


Author: Taylor-Anne Esparza|Emma Lodes

More often than not, club sports at Occidental are overshadowed by the prestige of NCAA-sanctioned sports. While men’s lacrosse and hockey are the well-known club sports, the quirky ones like fencing and Quidditch tend to go unnoticed. A variety of levels of competitiveness and time commitment makes it possible for anyone to participate.

Some rare sports may fly under the radar, but are actually quite competitive. Occidental’s ultimate Frisbee team competes against other Division III schools in the state of California and is on the track for Nationals this year. Yasmine Cooper (junior) is the president of the club. “It’s actually pretty intense. We placed fifth in our national tournament my freshman year, and that’s what we’re trying to do for this year,” she said. 

However, according to Cooper, the first rule of ultimate isn’t winning, it’s having fun and truly enjoying the game. “It’s a very team oriented sport and you get to be around people who play because they love it. Love of the game and spirit of the game is one of the main concepts of ultimate,” she said.

True to that spirit, the team is inclusive to anyone interested, regardless of skill or prior experience. “We have a lot of new players here and we’re showing them the basics right now. Anyone who wants to try it out can come,” Cooper said. The team practices three times a week, Monday and Wednesday from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at Patterson Field and on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the upper soccer fields.

For those who are interested in recreational sports with less of a competitive edge, yoga may be a solid pick. Izzy Struve (senior) is the president of Yoga Club, and has held that position for three years. Struve thinks of yoga as a refreshing alternative to more intense, competitive sports. “I love yoga because I am a triathlete and I find that I do all these other sports, but nothing connects me to me quite like yoga does. It’s a time when I align my body with my mentality,” she said. 

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According to Struve, yoga is also great exercise on its own, and a perfect way to manage stress. “It clears my mind and then recharges it at the same time,” she said. 

Yoga meets from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Sundays in Thorne Lobby and Wednesdays in Upper Herrick.

Many Harry Potter fans, and others who are just looking to have fun, flock to Quidditch Club. “Quidditch combines pretty intense nerd culture with athletics,” Captain Grace Bender (sophomore) said. 

The sport is only five years old, yet the team has played the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of Southern California (USC) and the Hollywood Harpies, a highly competitive team comprised of local athletes. “All equipment is provided. Everyone is welcome,” Bender said. The team practices on Mondays and Wednesdays at Patterson Field at 9:00 p.m.

The fencing club provides a relatively new and unfamiliar spin on club sports at Occidental. “We were at the involvement fair and we want more people, but funding is an issue. We don’t have enough equipment. People would end up standing around just watching if more people came,” President John Dawson (junior) said. Despite this minor setback, the fencing club has fun and tries to allow for inexperienced students to join in. “Last year we had an event in the quad where people could sign up, suit up and fence with us. We want to step it up and have more events, we just don’t have the resources,” Dawson said. The team practices Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Thorne Patio.

Occidental’s rejuvenated rock climbing club has found a way to work around former lack of commitment and funding and is currently making a comeback. The club was previously active, yet failed to survive the test of time. Alex Rand (sophomore) is doing his best to renovate the club and bring it back to life. The reborn rock climbing club will benefit from the support of the previous leaders, but move forward with new leadership, fresh blood and a rejuvenated energy for hitting the rock. “It’s gonna take off better because it has more youth and more strong leadership. Now we have capabilities of getting funding, which broadens the horizon. It seems like a lot more people are interested now,” Rand said. 

The club is getting its funding through ASOC. “We’re looking to get subsidies for paying for memberships for the rock climbing club to climb at the gym. Rock climbing is an expensive sport, so it’s difficult to do on your own and as a college student. Having a core group of people allows us to get funding,” Rand said.

Rock climbing club will be climbing at Arcadia Rock Climbing gym (ARC). ARC is one of America’s largest indoor bouldering gyms, and is only fifteen minutes away from Occidental. Climbers will carpool to Arcadia on Sunday afternoons. For now the club will stick to gym climbing, but Rand hopes that they will organize occasional outdoor trips as the year progresses. 

Rand is eager to draw in new members, regardless of experience and ability. “The more the better, because it’s funner to climb with friends. We encourage anybody and everybody to come out.” Rand stated that there is no need to worry about gear for those who choose to attend, as everything is rentable at AARC. 

Starting up a club is relatively simple, with steps outlined on the school’s website. According to the club leaders, ASOC is always eager to fund recreational sports and clubs with strong ideas and dedicated members.

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