A guide to club sports trials, competition and everything in between
Curious about club sports in Dartmouth? Check out some of the biggest and most popular teams – from rugby, tennis and football to hockey and figure skating – here.
Source: Courtesy of Aislinn Mitcham
Source: Courtesy of Aislinn Mitcham
This article is featured in the Freshman 2022 special issue.
Many Dartmouth students played a sport in high school competitively – although only about 0.08% of high school athletes go on to play their sport at the college level, and less than two percent of those students play in schools. of Division I as Dartmouth. This 99.92%, however, is not left without opportunities to play in college: club sports have bridged the gap between varsity athletes and the large number of incoming students who hope to find the camaraderie that athletics provides.
Dartmouth is home to 33 club sports teams, which range from nationally competitive teams, such as rugby, football, tennis, figure skating, squash and men’s hockey, to local competitive teams and mainly based teams on fitness. Competitive local teams include lacrosse, basketball, fencing, baseball, taekwondo and table tennis, and fitness-focused teams include badminton, golf, boxing and running, to name a few. to name just a few. Students can learn more about club sports at the annual club fair on the green during the fall term and on the Dartmouth Engage websitewhich lists all sports clubs and their contact details.
After the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted tryouts, practices and games for several seasons, the 2021-22 academic year was a time of significant rebuilding for these student-run groups. Still, several club sports teams enjoyed success last year and will hold tryouts in September in hopes of adding new members, particularly from the class of 2026, to their squads.
The tennis club is a co-ed, student-run team that holds tryouts to field two teams of approximately 12 players. Team A trains at least three times a week and competes in regional and national tournaments, while Team B trains two to three times a week and competes in local tournaments and more individual matchups, according to B team captain Sophia Swanson ’23.
Swanson said she has been playing tennis since she was a freshman and feels her spot on the B team makes commitment manageable while keeping the level of competition high. Swanson said she felt the most rewarding parts of being on the team weren’t the games, but the moments in between.
“This spring, we traveled to [University of Massachusetts, Amherst], and it was early morning, so we stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts,” Swanson said. “Just sitting there chatting was a ton of fun, and I absolutely loved seeing the team come together.”
The men’s rugby team, which won the Ivy League for thirteen years from 2008 to 2020 and had its team of seven fifth in the country last spring, leads the way in terms of players and resources. Each year there are between three and four full teams of 15 people, and the program is led by a full-time leader, assistant, and strength and conditioning coach. In addition, the team has access to all university sports facilities due to its competitiveness and travels around the country, mainly thanks to funding from former donors.
While this level of competition may make the program unattainable for some, Jaime Chuidian ’23 said anyone can try rugby and see if they’re the right fit.
“There’s a good mix of people in the squad, whether they played growing up or are new to the sport,” Chuidian said. “A lot of these kids who have never played before come out of their senior year like they’ve played their whole lives.”
Chiudian said while the A team is a major extra-curricular commitment, he has found a way to balance school with rugby – adding that for him school comes first.
In addition to rugby, other club sports with non-student coaches are ultimate, women’s soccer, figure skating and men’s hockey. These three teams are coming out of good seasons. Last year, women’s soccer won the Ivy League championship, while figure skating and men’s hockey were both in the top sixteen teams in the country, sending them across the country to national championships.
While men’s figure skating and hockey coaches receive compensation from Department of Physical Education and Recreation club sports funding, player dues, donations and other fundraising, the coach of women’s soccer Stephen Severson ’74 works on a volunteer basis, captain Aislinn says Mitcham 23.
“Steve [Severson] is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met,” Mitcham said. “He organizes training, but he’s super good at listening to player feedback. If someone has an exercise they really want to do that day, or if we prefer to practice in front [Baker-Berry Library] instead of going to Sachem [Fields]he will do it.
Women’s club football has autumn trials, but only fields one team of around 25 – which, depending on their participation in trials, can lead to significant cuts.
“I was quite nervous at first, but on the first day the girls on the team made it very clear that even if you weren’t on the team, you were making friends,” Mitcham said. “It was a very supportive environment and I knew it was going to be fun.”
Mitcham said the team takes a similar attitude toward attending practices and games.
“We’re all competitive, but it’s a very welcoming place,” Mitcham said. “When you can take the time to introduce yourself, everyone is super excited to see you, but when you can’t, everyone understands that we are Dartmouth students first.”
Figure skating is unique among many club sports in that they do not hold tryouts and have no limits on the number of skaters they can take.
“Everyone on the team has skating experience, but we try to take people from all levels,” said ’23 captain David Kaufmann. “Not everyone ends up competing, but freshmen are more than welcome to train with us. We want to create an environment where everyone feels supported no matter how long they want to commit.
Figure Skating Club members who attend one of the three qualifying events in the fall and winter before nationals must pay travel and hotel expenses, but like all other club sports, financial aid is available, according to Kaufmann.
For Kaufmann, the decision to join the team has been worth it.
“It made me find a love for the sport that I missed for part of high school, and a lot of that is thanks to the people involved here, who are so amazing,” Kaufmann said. “It’s definitely the most important experience I’ve had at Dartmouth.”
Last year, the men’s soccer and women’s lacrosse teams managed to put on successful seasons finishing second and Ivy League champion respectively.
For the men’s soccer team, tryouts are held in the fall for the fall and spring seasons, and they field two teams, according to team member Jack Reilly ’24. Practices are student-led and most players do two a week, he said.
Reilly explained that last spring the team narrowly missed out on the Ivy League championship in Rhode Island, losing to Brown University on penalties, but the loss did little to dampen its experience.
“We played really well despite a ridiculous number of injuries, and it’s been the most fun I’ve had in football since high school,” he said.
According to Annie Burton ’24, the women’s club lacrosse championship win was especially sweet, considering it was against Harvard University and was decided by a last-minute goal.
“We’ve played against a lot of teams that have super intense practice schedules and paid coaches,” Burton said of the Ivy League tournament for women’s club lacrosse. “As we’re run by students, we can sometimes feel overlooked, but we have a lot of talented players in our squad, and we’ve proven that.”
According to Burton, the team is still deciding whether to make cuts or hold trials this year, but exclusivity is not one of its values. Burton explained that this year the team is bringing back the pre-COVID practice of a “buddy system,” where a freshman will be paired with an upperclass mentor as a resource to navigate Dartmouth. The team will also run cardio and strength training sessions in the winter for anyone who wants to stay in shape, regardless of their lacrosse skills, she said.
Women’s club lacrosse emphasizes that club sports are a social vehicle not only between teammates, but also with other teams, Burton said.
“We had social activities with water polo clubs, field hockey clubs, football clubs and baseball clubs,” she added. “At Dartmouth, Greek life is a big social scene, and when you’re not affiliated as a freshman, it’s great to have other outlets like club sports.”
To those Class of 2026 who were worried your sports days were over or never got a chance to start – worry no more. From fencing to field hockey, badminton to boxing or table tennis to taekwondo, club sports create the opportunity to practice, compete or simply make new friends.