More than 800 students participate in Princeton's 32 student-run
club sports. For the December 17 club sports feature, PAW spoke
with captains from 10 different teams. The capsules below offer
a closer look at each of those programs.
With four national team championships in the 1960s, and more recently,
a national individual champion (Tyler Wren '03), the cycling club
has a history of success and a core of undergraduate and graduate
students dedicated to continuing the tradition. Eight weekends in
the spring make up the bulk of the competitive schedule, but most
riders train year-round. Two-day events can include up to 120 miles
of riding. Says captain Elliot Holland '04, "You come back
feeling like you've been run over, several times."
Collegiate equestrian competitions allow athletes of all experience
levels to compete, and captain Amanda Klopf '04 said that is part
of the fun. Walk-trot beginners and seasoned riders can each earn
points for the team. Princeton's team trains at a farm in nearby
Hillsborough and competes against other clubs as well as varsity
teams from Dartmouth and Cornell. Getting a coach is the next step
toward building a consistent winner, according to Klopf. "If
we could get a coach, I think this team could go very far,"
she says. "The sophomores and freshmen are tremendous."
Since 1931, rugby has been a part of Princeton athletics, and
the current players are devoted to the game, playing a full schedule
in both the fall and the spring, and working out in the weight room
during the winter. In January, they will tour Trinidad and Tobago,
keeping up the program's tradition of international travel. Playing
a sport that requires such extraordinary toughness generates an
"automatic respect" between teammates and competitors,
according to captain Ross Mazo '04.
Of the more than 40 players on the women's roster, only a handful
(mostly from Canada) came to Princeton with experience in the sport.
But the club has a reputation for turning good athletes into good
rugby players. "We take a lot of pride in our history,"
says cocaptain Kim Nortman '04. The 2003 ECRU and Ivy champions
boast two national championships in the last decade ('95 and '96),
and a series of trips to the final four. This year, they plan to
tour Florida in the spring before making another run at nationals.
Commodore Laura Jones '04 and her fellow officers keep the wind
in the club's sails with solid fundraising and management in an
expensive and time-consuming sport. The team, which dates back to
1928, sails out of the Raritan Bay, about 45 minutes from campus.
Between travel, rigging, and sailing, a practice session can eat
up about six hours, and most of the club's weekend regattas require
long rides and hotel stays. "The fact that we travel so much
makes us have more of a bond," Jones says.
Having a top-notch varsity women's soccer program at Princeton
has not detracted from the success of its club counterpart. The
club, which competes as a 20-member select team in the fall, has
qualified for nationals in the last two seasons. In the winter,
the women play indoor pickup games in Dillon Gym, and the spring
season takes the open pickup games outdoors, with more than 50 different
players participating. The winter and spring seasons have a laid-back
atmosphere that Tracy Gertler '04 enjoys. "Club sports aren't
supposed to be varsity," she says. "That's not the goal
of the program."
In flowered trunks and collared shirts, Ivy League surfers can
draw odd looks when they grab their boards and head out to tackle
the breaks of Belmar. Princeton's surf club members hail from coastal
locales in California, Hawaii, Delaware, New Jersey, and Massachusetts,
and they helped to organize the sport's first unofficial Ivy League
championships two years ago. While the club wants to legitimize
surfing as a sport rather than a hobby, its primary mission is simple.
"Fundamentally, it serves as a core group of guys who, when
the waves hit, are ready to go," says Mark Herrema '04.
Tae Kwon Do
Many of the students involved in tae kwon do are just recreational
participants, but for the athletes who compete in the regional tae
kwon do league, team points are a big deal. Five members went to
collegiate nationals in Seattle in November, and four instructors
run classes from September to May. Evan Chyun '04, a former high
school swimmer and tennis player, entered the club as a beginner
and now is a first-degree black belt. He enjoys competing, particularly
in sparring. "It can be intimidating at times," he says,
"but it's definitely a rush."
Men's Ultimate Frisbee
Princeton played in the first intercollegiate ultimate Frisbee
game against Rutgers in 1972, 103 years to the day after the same
two schools kicked off college football history. But while the club,
also known as Clockwork Orange, helped to spread the game, it's
also become a victim of ultimate's popularity. "Every year,
it feels like it's getting more competitive, as ultimate becomes
a more established sport," says cocaptain Eric Boorstin '04.
"I think our early-mover advantage is dwindling." The
club draws about 30 players, 17 of whom play on the A-team.
Women's Ultimate Frisbee
For Lady Clockwork cocaptain Erica Schein '04, the team's three
practices each week offer a much-needed break from the stress of
student life. "You get there, and the stress is gone,"
she says. "It might come back right afterwards, but for that
two and a half hour period, it's gone." The women have been
rebuilding since their last trip to nationals in 1999, and they
hope the spring season will bring the team back into regional title
contention. The team travels to Georgia for annual spring break
trip that includes two tournaments.