"The best kept secret on campus."
That's how Kerry McClung, manager of club sports at the University of Richmond, referred to club sports teams at the university.
"But we're trying to change that so we won't be able to use that quote anymore," McClung said.
McClung's dream will come closer to reality when club sports teams showcase themselves in the Forum at the first Club Sports Rush Day on Thursday, Sept. 10.
Every Richmond club team - now numbering more than 30 with the addition of four co-ed teams: golf, polo, badminton and the sprinting spiders - will be at the Forum from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., McClung said, with booths, banners, sign-up sheets and schedules of practices and competitions.
Interactive events will also take place throughout the day, McClung said, including a fastest shot contest by the men's lacrosse team, the crew team rowing on the lake and a martial arts demonstration.
McClung said that she hoped the rush day would not only give students a chance to find out more information about the clubs, but would also let the teams market themselves to students new to club sports.
In 2008-09, almost 500 students participated in club sports, and with more recruitment, McClung said that she hoped the numbers would increase, and that the clubs themselves would have better attendance at their competitions.
Students already involved in club sports have reacted positively to the rush day, and are excited about the potential increase in participation.
Sophomore Jessica Goodman, co-president of the club swim team and president of the sports club council executive board, said that the rush day could spur a large influx of students to join club sports, and could also perk the interest of other schools' teams that might consider playing a Richmond team.
"We'll generate more competitions, more meets," Goodman said. "A lot of club teams haven't really gotten the ball rolling with a lot of competitions and gotten our school name out there, so I think it's a great idea."
Junior Dan Colosimo, president of the club men's lacrosse team, agreed, noting that the rush day could help change club sports' image on campus.
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"Freshmen will take it more seriously, and more freshmen will come out," Colosimo said. "There are a lot of kids at Richmond that play lacrosse or played lacrosse in high school very competitively, but they don't play here just because they don't think it's worth their time. I think this will help change that image."
McClung said that although it was a new idea, there was already a lot of interest regarding the rush day, especially from first-year students. During the summer, a Facebook invitation for the rush day was posted on the group page for incoming first-year students, she said, and within 24 hours 100 students had accepted the invitation.
McClung said that she hoped up to 1,000 students would pass through the Forum and check out the club teams throughout the day, and she added if it was successful, the rush day could branch out into a weeklong event.
But some clubs may not be able to take full advantage of the rush day.
The club women's soccer team will have had their tryouts before the rush day, said senior Kaylen Burke, the team's president. But she added that the team would still have a table in the Forum.
"It's kind of awkward because if freshmen are expecting to get all the club information at the sports club rush day, they're going to be too late to try out, at least for our team," Burke said.
Andrew Gilmartin, president of the club men's rugby team, said that he thought rugby might be at a disadvantage at the rush day because the team couldn't do an interactive event.
"For other teams it might work a little better because they're able to demonstrate a little bit or do something, whereas we can't play a rugby game," Gilmartin said. "That might not work great for us."
But both Gilmartin and Burke agreed that the rush day was a good idea that would help inform students and get people interested in the teams.
McClung said that the idea for the rush day started with a push to promote club sports on campus, led by President Edward L. Ayers; Tom Roberts, director of recreation and wellness; and the rest of the recreation and wellness department.
"We want students to have an outlet other than academics," McClung said.
McClung and Roberts traveled to San Diego, Calif., during the summer for a sport club symposium with representatives from approximately 125 different colleges and universities. McClung said she had taken pages of notes compiling the best ideas, and decided to start the rush day. She added that some universities already had similar events that included information sessions, community outreach projects and play days, where students could learn how to play a particular sport.
The club sports rush day will be held Thursday, Sept. 10, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Forum. If it rains, it will be moved to the Alice Haynes Room in the Tyler Haynes Commons.
Contact staff writer Stephen O'Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org
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