Web Exclusives: PawPlus

December 17, 2003

Club Sports Snapshots

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."

Men's Rugby

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.

Women's Rugby

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.

Women's Soccer

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.