Other than the varsity sports, the university is home to four men’s club sports—ice hockey, rugby, soccer and volleyball—as well as two women’s sports—volleyball and soccer.
It is not easy for these teams to gain recognition due to the attention the varsity level teams get, but that does not mean these teams are not successful.
Club sports at the Hall are over- seen by the Department of Athletics and Recreational Services, but these teams strongly differ from the varsity sports. What this means is that the students are responsible for organizing everything from maintaining health and safety to transportation and finding the means to financially support the team. In order to remain active, they also must meet and maintain certain eligibility re- quirements that are in accordance with the academic policies of the university.
Because of this, it is more difficult for these teams to find facili- ties to practice in or gain the same fan base that the Division I teams at Seton Hall have.
Among those sports, men’s rugby and hockey have been the largest and most successful over the years.
“Without a doubt, it’s rugby and hockey,” Kathleen Matta, Associate Athletic Director said about the success of the club teams. “They have strong backgrounds and they get strong numbers every year. They always do what they have to do and they affect the most students.”
“Rugby affects and draws all types of athletes,” he said. “There are up to 40 kids in the club right now and next semester they could have 60. It’s a lot of kids and it really impacts their experience here. I love that.”
Alex Perez, a senior on the rugby team, has had the opportunity not just to play rugby, but get to know some great people in the process.
“It’s an honor to be a part of the largest club sport on campus, playing alongside an amazing group of gentlemen that work hard each and every day to make our team stronger,” he said.
It is not all fun and games on and off the field for these guys. Just like the rest of the club teams, they are responsible for all matters within the club.
“It can be stressful at times, especially with being a full-time student,” Perez said. “We do not have the luxury of just showing up to practices and games when we are told. People forget that we also have to worry about referees, transportation, jerseys, recruiting and so on. But thankfully, as of late, the university has shown support to our rugby program and volunteered to take some of those responsibilities off of our shoulders.”
Just like the rugby team, the hockey team also attracts a large number of students. Just in the few weeks of being back at school, hockey has already gained nine new players.
“We’ve really grown the program over the past couple years,” junior hockey player Andrew Cameron. “It takes a lot of time since its just students doing everything.”
“Hockey isn’t as high as rugby, but they do still have high numbers,” Matt said. “They’re about a 30-person club, but each one of those kids pays a ton of money because it is an expensive sport, so they have a huge commitment there.”
Both rugby and ice hockey play at off-campus locations. The rugby team has neighboring Ivy Hill Park while the hockey team uses Richard J. Codey Arena in West Orange.
“It’s hard to get fans out to games, especially because a lot of people don’t even know we have a hockey team,” Cameron said. “Then if they want to go to a game they have to drive 10 minutes to get there.”
The success within club teams does not stop here, and it is slowly making its way to the two newest and only women’s clubs at the university.
The volleyball and soccer teams have been busy learning the ropes of the club sports system since they got started.
“They’re still kind of struggling through the provisional process so we’re trying to be patient with them,” Matta said. “I do think they’ll get there, but they have some work to do.”
The luxury club sports has is that if a group of students want to start a club team, they can.
“It’s all up to the kids,” Mat- ta said. “We’re not against new clubs, as long we can handle it fa- cility-wise and the university can handle it.”
Olivia Mulvihill can be reached at email@example.com. edu or on Twitter @OliviaMulvi- hill.