01 Nov Penn State club sports embrace return to in-person competition | University Park Campus News
After more than a year with no competitions, Penn State’s club sports began competing in person again this fall semester.
Like all other club sports, women’s club Soccer was not allowed to gather in person for the entirety of last year — including any practices, training or games.
“It’s just great to be back,” Natalia Reed, primary THON chair and coach for women’s club soccer, said.
The women’s soccer team, after the completion of its regular season, won the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association Region 1 Championship this weekend.
“We’ve had an almost undefeated season with one tie against Pitt,” Reed (senior-psychology and rehabilitation and human services) said. “I’m just excited as a senior to play my last season.”
Club roller hockey is getting ready for its season after a year of no practice as a team because there was no access to the Intramural Building last year amid the pandemic.
“It’s not like we can just go out and play since we needed the IM building, so we were all locked down,” Dylan Meza, a member of the team, said.
As part of the preseason, the team was “outside Pittsburgh this weekend and had a tournament — games and everything,” Meza (junior-computer science) said.
“Getting back out there and being able to play has been the best part,” Meza said.
Club cross country recently completed its regular fall season and will compete in its final race next weekend — the National Intercollegiate Running Club Association Cross Country National Championship.
For a year, the club was unable to run together in person, so members would practice by running in groups outside of the official club.
“Groups of us would schedule unofficial runs together… completely separated from Club XC just to get together and, you know, run — since we’re all good friends,” Daniel Hader said.
Everything is back to normal “for the most part,” Hader (junior-biobehavioral health) said of this fall.
But a remaining obstacle for the team is the variance in coronavirus vaccination policies between different competitions, according to Hader.
“When we go to away meets at some of the other schools — like at Princeton… all members who were racing had to have proof of vaccination with them,” Hader said. “There have been certain competitions where those who are unvaccinated haven’t been able to compete.”
Despite this, the team is back to its typical schedule of running every day, Monday through Friday, and hosting pasta parties before its meets.
“Oh, it’s awesome being back,” Hader said.
Club quidditch is “gearing up to go” to its regional competition this Friday, according to Catherine Callison, vice president of the club.
Quidditch is a sport originally from the fictional Harry Potter universe, according to the club’s OrgCentral website description.
“It’s a little bit of soccer, it’s a little bit of dodgeball, it’s a little bit of handball, it’s a little bit of rugby. It’s everything rolled into one,” Callison (senior-criminology) said.
During the lockdown, the team kept in touch over Zoom, holding virtual movie nights and birthday parties. This fall, after a year without meeting, practicing or competing in person, the team has been able to complete its regular fall season.
It’s about “making sure we are up to date with what’s going on,” Callison said.
According to Callison, club quidditch’s biggest obstacle has been remaining mindful of proper coronavirus precaution, documentation and regulation.
The club has to adhere to not only Penn State guidelines but the policies of U.S. Quidditch and each state it competes in.
“I’m ecstatic,” Callison said. “I missed this sport so badly.”
Club crew members told the same story — no practices, no training and no competitions until this fall. However, the club hosted its own home race on Oct. 9 titled the Nittany Lion Chase and is preparing to travel to another regatta in a week.
President Zach How mentioned that there were other competitions throughout last year that Penn State was prohibited from participating in due to the virtual format regulations.
“[Other] teams were allowed to train and race,” How (junior-mechanical engineering) said. “It was Penn State stopping [us] from participating.”
Without any training, practices or in-person tryouts, freshmen had little opportunity to get involved in club sports, according to How.
Now, this year, How said the team has been able to compete and connect with new members.
“The best part is being in a team boat,” How said. “Being able to compete and win medals is exciting.”
Another member of the team, JP Scarbrough, said he has enjoyed meeting and working with younger members on the team.
Club crew divides the team up in different boats based on experience and ability, which presents another opportunity for new freshmen to join, interact and compete with peers on the team, according to Scarbrough (senior-international politics and history).
“I want to shout out our novice men’s team [because] none of them had previous rowing experience,” Scarbrough said. “In their second race they got second… that was pretty sweet to watch.”
Scarbrough also said this year, the team has been able to connect with all players who participated in the club virtually last year.
“We had a bunch of new people come in, and we were never really able to get to know them.” Scarbrough said. “One of the best things is being able to be with everybody, not just as a team — but as friends and as a family.”
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