Mason’s best kept secret: Club sports

Staff writer, Mitchell Westall

Club sports might just be the best kept secret at Mason. Contrary to popular belief, a student doesn’t have to be an athlete to get the involved in the programs.

There are a variety of club sports offered at Mason, including football, ultimate frisbee, volleyball and cycling. However, only 805 of the nearly 22,000 undergraduate students participated in club sports during the 2014-2015 school year. That’s less than 4 percent.

Assistant Director of Club Sports Ryan Bradshaw oversees all 31 club teams. While he encourages all the teams to play their hardest, he believes that success does not mean winning a championship or a tournament. To him, a game is successful when the players have a lot of fun and really grow as people. The players love to compete — and they certainly compete well, as proven by the Quidditch team’s recent victory — but their main goal is much more important than any trophy they could ever hoist.

Junior Maggie Jackson is a co-captain of the girls’ club field hockey team. She echoes Bradshaw’s opinion: “Club field hockey has had a huge impact on my college experience along with my life in general! It has helped me manage my time in order to accommodate practices, games, work, class schedules and everyday life.”

There are currently 31 active club sports programs at Mason, but that is subject to change. Bradshaw is always encouraging the creation of new clubs here at the school. Students can recommend that another sport be added to the club program by visiting Mason Recreation’s website and filling out an application form.

Club sports are not just for students who want to jump into gear and onto the field. Bradshaw says he also needs students who are interested in behind-the-scenes work.

One of Bradshaw’s accomplishments in his two years at Mason has been creating an executive council of seven students elected by the clubs to manage almost every aspect of club sports here at Mason. There are even students who join to manage budgets for each individual team. Bradshaw’s goal was to make the program as student-run as possible, giving himself the title 0f “Risk Manager.”

Since these clubs require lots of different equipment and do a significant amount of traveling (Mason club teams traveled a total of 42,000 miles in the last year alone), there is always a lot of risk and budgeting involved. Bradshaw said that a total of approximately $207,000 was spent on club sports last year but that teams were able to bring in an additional $182,000 through fundraising and dues.

Any student who loves to travel, play sports and form a bond with teammates should consider joining a club sport, since these are all things the club sports program is looking to achieve.

Jackson says her team has grown close by spending time together both on and off the field. “[Club field hockey] went to a pumpkin patch, we did tye-dyes, we had so many pizza parties and study sessions and we were such a close knit support system for each other,” Jackson said.

To get involved with club sports, students should visit Mason Recreation’s website. In order to join most teams, students will need to have an updated sports physical and accurate insurance information. In addition, most teams require players to contribute a small fee to help pay for equipment and other important items.

“It’s fun, it keeps you active and exercising, the club sports network is large and strong also,” Jackson adds. “Club sports not only gets you involved with your team but with the other club sports the school offers!”