Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Give RecSports clubs a try

Hope Gullatt

Growing up, I never thought of myself as an athlete. I tried gymnastics, taekwondo, highland dancing and lyrical jazz before quitting them all within a few months. Entering a room of peers who had studied their sport since infancy instilled a fear in me I couldn’t overcome.

However, safe spaces for beginners do exist. I didn’t find these environments until my first year of college when I stumbled into a trove of friendly training spaces. Many of the 45 RecSports clubs on campus embrace novices and foster programs specifically to support their athletic journeys.

If you’ve ever been interested in a new sport, now is the time to try it out. Beginner-friendly spaces in RecSports offer a myriad of new chances to learn and grow.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to learn a new skill set while also making relationships on campus and being able to be physically active, which is obviously really important for academics,” said Bridget Jones, sports clubs senior assistant director at RecSports. “If you’re more physically active and maintaining your health, you tend to do better in school.”

Sports club membership also provides opportunities for travel. According to Jones, students took 261 trips in 2022-23 through RecSports. Of these, 68 were outside of Texas, and around 3,000 students traveled in total. 

“There’s a newcomer category (in collegiate competitions) where you’re only allowed to do certain steps in certain levels,” said Alec Weigel, a fifth-year Plan II, Portuguese and biochemistry major. “It’s very open to newcomers. To make that more accessible to people too, we help organize all of the housing and transportation to get over there.”

Not all sports clubs on campus are open for novices, but there are resources for beginners to assess their compatibility and find the best fit.

“A lot of clubs will be very transparent,” Jones said. “ It’s not like (students) have to go and be uncomfortable. They’re able to communicate prior, and if they’re really not sure and they just know they want to do a sport, our office is always open. … We can find you the right home on campus.”

Beyond athleticism, there are also chances for newcomers to take on leadership roles within sports. For example, in Texas Ballroom, every member who currently holds an officer title entered the club without prior ballroom experience. In my second year, I served as an officer for Texas Fencing, and the experience provided me with chances to build closer friendships within the organization.

According to Jones, each club can have up to five authorized representatives who serve as liaisons between their organizations and RecSports. The next cohort of officers may have just recently started learning the basics of their sport. 

“We support them in learning how to communicate, how to problem solve, how to make ethical decisions as well as some professional development skills on top of leadership skills that they can take on, hopefully, to their careers after,” Jones said.

When considering new organizations, I always feared being the oldest student there. However, according to Weigel, Texas Ballroom president, around 20-30% of newcomers to the Texas Ballroom every semester are upperclassmen. This trend continues across clubs.

It’s never too late to join.

For anyone on the verge of joining interesting, new sports like I was, take the plunge. Consider the potential for travel, growth and beginner-friendly competitions offered through RecSports Clubs, even if you think your clock has run out.

Walters is an informatics junior from Spring, Texas.


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