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.

Extracurricular Clubs Focused On Athletics

There is literally something for everyone in college athletics. If you have a particular athletic interest that is not represented by a varsity team, club sport, or intramural activity, chances are there will be an extracurricular club that will allow you to participate. We've seen extracurricular clubs for everything from mountaineering and ice climbing to mountain biking, kayaking, and roller-skiing. And if by some remote chance, the activity you want to do is not available on your campus, you can always start your own club!

Being Active 

 Finally, there is the most basic level of college athletics: being active and getting some exercise every day. Most colleges and universities have gyms and workout facilities open to all students; many of them rank among the best in the world. Avail yourself of the opportunity to use these facilities for regular workouts or pickup games while you're on campus.

"I worked out twice a day, in the wee early morning hours before breakfast and at the end of the day before I went to bed," Erika notes. "We had a full fitness center with trainers and everything, so it was easy to stick to."

Addtional Resources

    Wheeler, Dion. A Parent's and Student-Athlete's Guide to Athletic Scholarships - Getting Money Without Being Taken for a (Full) Ride. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000.

    Wheeler, Dion. The Sports Scholarships Insider's Guide"Getting Money for  College at Any Division.
    Naperville, Ill.: Sourcebooks, 2005.



Campus Confidential Mentors and Uber-Mentors:

Campus Confidential contains the collective advice of a a diverse group of people who have traveled the road to college. Some are recent college graduates who can counsel you on the college experience as it is today. Other are a few years removed from their college days and can provide a longer view of the decisions you will need to make before, during, and after college. Here is a little bit about the mentors and uber-mentors in these articles.

Dan Bissell – Campus Confidential Uber-Mentor

Portland, Oregon

B.A. Middlebury College cum laude, 1993. Major: Geology

M. D. University of Colorado School of Medicine, Adler Scholar, 2002


Tom Teh Chiu – Campus Confidential Uber-Mentor

Brooklyn, New York

B. A. Yale University, 1993. Major: double major in Chemistry and Music

M. M. Juilliard School, 1995

M Juilliard School, 2001

Jim Bright – Campus Confidential Uber-Mentor

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

B. A. Duke University, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, 1997. Major: History


Amanda Cramer – Campus Confidential Uber-Mentor

Paso Robles, California

B.A. Cornell University Phi Beta Kappa, 1993. Major: Mathematics

Graduate study in food science – Enology, University of California at Davis 1997-2000


Zoe Robbins – Campus Confidential Uber-Mentor

Gouldsboro, Maine

B.A. (1) Wellesley College magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, 1997. Major: Economics

B.A. (2) University of Pennsylvania, 2001. Major: Nursing


Carolyn Koegler – Campus Confidential Uber-Mentor

Hopkinton, New Hampshire

B. A. Tufts University, cum laude, 1993. Double major: History and Spanish


Erik Norton – Campus Confidential Uber-Mentor

Boston, Massachusetts

B. A. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1993. Major: Mathematics


Lyndsee Dickson – Campus Confidential Mentor

Concord, New Hampshire

B.A. New York University, cum laude, 2004. Major: East Asian studies


Kevin Donovan – Campus Confidential Mentor

Somerville, Massachusetts

B.A. Boston College, honors in the major, 1993. Major: English, Minor: Creative Writing


Tiffany Chan – Campus Confidential Mentor

Concord, New Hampshire

B.S. New York University, 2005. Major: Communication Science


Erica Eubanks – Campus Confidential Mentor

Memphis, Tennessee

B.A. Tennessee State University, National Deans List, 2003. Major: Criminal Justice


Dave Irwin – Campus Confidential Mentor

Carlisle, Massachusetts

B.A. Middlebury College departmental honors, 2004. Major: American Civilization, Minor: Education


Chase Johnson – Campus Confidential Mentor

London, England

B. A. Duke University, with Phi Alpha Theta distinction in history, 2005. Major: History


Aaron Paskalis – Campus Confidential Mentor

Magnolia, Massachusetts

West Point Military Academy, then transferred to UMass Amherst

B. A. University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 2005. Major: Legal studies