It's How You Play the Game
The final whistle blows and 15 Colby men help each other off the field. Many are limping, bruised, or bleeding — and covered in mud. Most are wearing huge smiles.
This is the Colby Rugby Football Club, pulling out a last-second victory against the University of Maine Farmington.
The players are greeted on the sidelines with high fives and Advil as the B team — less-experienced players — prepares to take the field. Most of them, about to play a real rugby game for the first time, are still trying to figure out all the rules. They may be nervous, the passes may be ugly, the kicks may not go the right direction, but that does not matter to these rookies. They are hooked.
Such is the beauty of club sports at Colby, players say. It’s just a group of students with a common interest, looking to have a good time and share the sport with others who may otherwise never have discovered it. There are no tryouts or cuts for any of the teams, and the pressure doesn’t compare to that of a varsity sport. But when people pick up a new club sport, they often instantly fall in love with it. “There’s no obligation to the team,” said Jamie Poster ’08, the recently graduated head of the Woodsmen’s Team, “but once you become a woodsman, you never want to let it go.”
Hundreds of student athletes (and even the occasional professor) who go through Colby leave the school with new appreciation for a sport they may never have dreamed of in high school. And, of course, they meet new people and discover a new way of letting off steam. “The Colby Fencing Club, while small, has a great atmosphere,” said Doug Wong ’10. “The skill levels range from beginner to experienced veteran, but everyone has a great time. Seriously, what’s more fun than trying to stab someone with a sword? It really helps relieve stress during exam time.”
Club sports also give non-varsity athletes the chance to take part in meaningful intercollegiate athletics. The bond between club teammates is just as great as for varsity athletes, students say. Everyone shares in the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat—even the agony of victory, if it’s rugby. Games might not be against traditional New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) opponents or in front of screaming fans in a packed arena, but, in the end, say club athletes, that’s not what matters. What matters is putting ultimate effort into the competition and best representing themselves, their team, and Colby.