“It had been such a big part of my life,” said senior business major Maddy Lee, who started playing soccer at 4 years old.
Many high school student-athletes dream of playing sports at the collegiate level. However, a survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations and an NCAA report found of 8 million student-athletes only 480,000 compete at the NCAA level.
Students unable to compete as NCAA athletes in university-sponsored uniforms can often feed their passion for sports through competitive club sports.
High school athletes that did not go on to compete at the NCAA level, combined with college students eager to take up a club sport as an extracurricular, make up an estimated two million that participate in club sports governed by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Not to confuse with intramural sports, club sports teams play at a more competitive level that gives teams the opportunity to advance to regionals and national collegiate championships. Many teams have directors or presidents in charge of scheduling and fundraising.
A five-year-old who once saw soccer as all fun and games has now filled her passion for the sport as the club soccer president.
Eve Matten, a sophomore business major, said holding the title of club president has been a growing experience that has taught her the importance of teamwork, perseverance and commitment.
“I finally had the opportunity to do more than just be a player on the field,” said Matten.”Being a defender, I see everything from the back end. I like that I get this holistic view of the team.”
Many students prefer club sports over NCAA sports because they still offer great competition without the time-consuming participation.
One of Matten’s teammates aspired to play at the collegiate level, but also desired the time to commit to academics.
“Club soccer is a great medium between playing at the D1 level and participating in intramural sports because it is highly competitive without being a forced commitment,” said first-year nursing major Brooke Gully.
The A&M Consolidated High School alumna, who earned 1st Team All-Region and Academic All-District during her time as a midfielder for the Lady Tiger soccer team, mentioned the disparity between the two levels of competition.
“It takes more time, more skill and more drive than intramural sports but these investments do not compare with the investment of playing on a D1 team,” Gully added.
TCU D1 soccer led the Big 12 in attendance for the fourth straight season in 2017 with an average of 1,375 fans per match. Although attendance lacks at the club games in comparison to the NCAA games, club members have plans to raise awareness.
“A lot of people don’t know about the club, so often we don’t have a lot of fans,” said Matten. “Recently, a lot of the freshman have asked their friends to come to games and we’ve had a lot more fans.”
Matten also said they have inquired on selling t-shirts on campus to highlight that they, too, are athletes who use their time to play a sport they love.