As the fall semester of sports comes to a close, the winter sports season has officially begun for many of the sports teams and clubs around the Academy. However, men’s rugby has one more weekend left. This weekend, we will be traveling to Maryland to compete in the Division II men’s rugby national tournament. This is our second season in a row qualifying for nationals, and we hope to win this weekend. As I mentally prepare for this weekend’s matches, I have thought about how lucky we are as a club to be able to compete. Here at the Academy, club sports and varsity sports are not equal. There are many differences, and that is the message of this blog.
Let me begin by saying that there is a club or a sport here for everyone. If you aren’t interested in any of the established clubs or sports, you can try to start your own, and the Academy will help you with this. A list of our sports teams and club sports can be found on the website.
As I have said, sports teams and club sports are very different here at the Academy. To begin, varsity sports are funded by the CGA appropriated budget, which means that they have a set amount of money that they can use each year. During the government shutdown, these funds were frozen, and our varsity sports almost did not get to play.
Varsity sports teams are NCAA Division III teams. They have athletic trainers, high-end training equipment, a paid coaching staff, and many more benefits. Additionally, varsity sports are subject to all different types of NCAA regulations, which protect athletes. These sports are highly competitive even with our strict weight and fitness standards, which puts us at a disadvantage in some situations. However, varsity sports are great programs. The cadets and coaches are dedicated to success, but at the same time, they understand the demands of academics and military obligations.
Club sports are very different from varsity sports; in fact, they are almost opposite. Club sports are funded by cadet activities funds and alumni donations. During the shutdown, clubs sports were not affected, because their funds are not part of the CGA budget. Club sports are also different from varsity sports in other ways. Clubs do not have full time athletic trainers. Often times, coaches are volunteers, or part-time employees. Furthermore, clubs do not fall under any NCAA regulations, which means the Academy or the coaches are responsible for player safety. However, club sports are still amazing programs and are as successful as varsity sports, and the coach-player bonds are equally as strong as varsity sports. One key distinction between club and varsity sport is that clubs can compete at higher levels than varsity sports. Even though the Academy is a Division III school, clubs may compete at the Division II level if they are good enough. They may compete in any division, which helps the club find an appropriate level of competition.
I hope this information is useful to prospective cadets looking to get involved in sports here at the Academy. I think the athletic programs here at the Academy are outstanding, and I highly recommend trying a sport here.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at Hunter.D.Stowes@uscga.edu.
I am happy to answer any of your questions, and good luck for those of you still submitting applications!
More about Hunter.