Gone Clubbin’

UO club sports on the rise

The University of Oregon is known for the Ducks football team, but varsity sports aren’t the only ones making noise on campus. Of the UO’s 43 club sports, 38 are currently either in-season or practicing, and many end up competing both locally and nationally.

Paul Fraser coordinates the UO’s disc golf club team, which is growing largely by bringing in players while out on the field. “Our biggest success recruiting people is actually out there on the course playing,” he says. “When we see people of collegiate age we go, ‘Hey, do you go to school around here?’ ‘Yeah, I go to UO.’ ‘Awesome, you should come out and play with the team!’ ‘There’s a team?’”

Yes, there is, and it is part of the Oregon Collegiate Disc Golf League, which is composed of teams from UO, Oregon State, Lane Community College, Willamette University and Portland Community College. In addition, the team has two chances go to nationals, with a qualifier in Monterey, Calif., in November and another at Milo McIver State Park in Estacada.

Winning is such a small piece of the puzzle, though. “Somewhere way down the list is competitive disc golf,” Fraser says. “It’s about inclusiveness and not exclusiveness.”

The same could be said for the crew club team. There is a disc golf course at Dexter Lake, where Fraser was introduced to his club, but it is also home to crew.

Delaney Butler, coordinator of the club crew team, is excited about the upcoming 5K season this fall and is always looking to expand an ever-growing roster. In the spring of 2009, the team fielded 11 members; the ensuing fall it had 40, and now the roster is expected to be around 50. Six years ago, crew didn’t even have a team in the fall. “It’s amazing how much the team has grown,” Butler says. “It’s a testament to its student leadership and coaching consistency.”

Like disc golf, the crew team competes both regionally and nationally. The regional season takes place this fall, with nationals in the spring. There are men’s and women’s teams, and, also mirroring disc golf, both are expected to do great things.

While crew and disc golf are well known, fencing is not. Holly Bishop, coordinator of the fencing club, likes that it flies under the radar and is pleased with its presence at the UO. “It’s not something you think of off the top of your head,” says Bishop, who attended the open house during her freshman year and fell in love with the sport. “I think that makes it fun.”

As more of one-on-one competition, fencing isn’t looking to have a roster the size of crew’s, but Bishop welcomes anyone who wants to give it a shot and join the six or seven regulars. Practice begins Oct. 7, and the season takes the team as far as Northern California and Seattle.

Club sports are all about exploration — finding something that catches your fancy as a getaway from studies. That’s how it was for Fraser, Butler and Bishop.

“At what other point in my life am I going to have the opportunity to fence, to do something so random and so out there?” Bishop says of her time in college. “I really encourage everyone to pick it up, get into the sport and enjoy it.”

Those interested in participating can visit the clubhouse located in Room 24 on the ground floor of the Erb Memorial Union. On Oct. 3, an open house will be held on the EMU concourse from 6 to 7:30 pm.