Athletics on Campus: If You Are Not Recruited But Still Want to Play

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

If You Are Not Recruited but Still Want to Play . . .

Many high school athletes, and some very good ones, are not recruited to play at the college level, but still want to make their college team. Or perhaps you want to try out for a varsity sport that was not even offered at your high school.

During the summer before you arrive on campus, contact the head coach of the team you are interested in and let him or her know of your interest in trying out. Ask for a copy of the summer training schedule sent to the students who were recruited to play the sport. Inquire whether the team requires you to have a physical performed before you get to campus in the fall. Finally, most college teams, particularly in those sports that are not offered at all high schools, will have a period of open tryouts during which you will practice or scrimmage and be evaluated by the coaching staff. Find out when those tryouts are and whether you will be welcome to try to "walk on" to the team.

At many less competitive programs or at schools in less competitive divisions, persistence and attitude (when coupled with at least some talent) go a long way. If you are committed to playing a varsity sport in college as a walk-on, make your intentions known to the coaches, don't miss a practice, and practice and scrimmage your heart out. Your good attitude may take you further than you think.

Club Sports

Club sports are sports that have lost (or never had) varsity status on campus but are funded by contributions from players or alumni. Rugby, fencing, wrestling, and archery are common club sports at many schools.

Collegiate club teams compete against other club teams from around the country, and have training programs and schedules that can be as rigorous as varsity teams. These clubs may make cuts to select their teams. At other places, club sports provide more of a social outlet and opportunity to travel while bonding with teammates, competing together, and staying in shape. These clubs will typically accept anyone who wants to make the commitment to train and play"though not everyone will make the traveling squad for every game.

Your university athletic department will have a list of the club sports available on your campus. Almost all of these clubs will select members after the beginning of the school year, so either call the athletic department to find out when tryouts or initial practices are being held, or watch your campus signs and table tents for information.

"I was an EMT (emergency medical technician) for the Women's Rugby Team," Dan quipped. "Ahh . . . the stories I could tell . . ."

Intramural Sports

Chances are, your college or university also features an intramural athletic league comprising randomly selected teams or teams representing dorms or residential colleges. These leagues can be more or less competitive, depending on the college and the sport, but will almost always welcome recreational players who are interested in the sport and eager for a little athletic competition.

We've seen intramural sports in everything from the old standbys, such as men's, women's, and coed soccer, softball, and touch or flag football; to more unusual offerings, such as coed inner-tube water polo, ultimate Frisbee, billiards, minigolf, and Texas Hold 'em; to the bizarre, such as competitive eating and drinking.

Intramural sports are a good way to stay in shape, a welcome break, and a great social outlet. Once you're on campus in the fall, get a list of all the intramural "sports" offered by your college or university and find something fun to participate in.

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