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A League of Their Own

UVA’s club sports teams play to win

They play against other colleges and they play hard. Sometimes they bring home championship trophies. They are UVA’s 64 club sports teams. Competing outside the purview and the pageantry of the NCAA and the ACC, they are self-governed, self-directed and often student funded. Here’s a look at four top-performing club teams.

Men’s Rowing

Men’s rowing may not be a Division I sport at UVA, but team members still spend 12-20 hours a week on the water, says coach Erich Shuler. The team finished third this past season in points and won the Varsity 8 national championship at the American Collegiate Rowing Association regatta in 2011 and 2012. More than half of the varsity squad has an average GPA of 3.5 or higher, proving that even the busiest club sport athletes can excel in the classroom, too.

Women’s Rugby

“I didn’t even know what a rugby ball looked like before I started playing here,” admits team captain Zoe Schmitt (Engr ’17). The club, which started at UVA in 1976, doesn’t hold official try-outs or cuts. Instead it takes anyone who wants to play; the roster averages 25 to 30 members. The team advanced to the USA Rugby collegiate championship game this past spring, an achievement they hope to build on this year.

Coed Figure Skating

The figure skating club began in 2012 with two members. “We competed at an intercollegiate event and we were the absolute worst team,” says former team member Lia Cattaneo (Engr ’16). But over the last four years, the team has improved, practicing three to four hours a week at Charlottesville’s Main Street Arena and growing to a roster of 25 (including several men) and two volunteer coaches. While the team has to travel everywhere by bus, even as far as Boston, the hard work has paid off. In the final competition of 2015–2016, UVA placed first out of 12 teams.

Men’s Club Lacrosse

During team president Jamie Bright’s first year, 155 players tried out for the men’s club lacrosse team, which caps the roster at around 48. Each player is expected to attend at least three practices a week, and tournaments are often weekend-long affairs. The spring season consists of 16 games and a culminating tournament, where the Wahoos advanced to the semifinals this past May. They also took home the Beltway Bash title. “We’ve been successful because it’s very serious,” Bright (Com ’17) says. “We practice more than other schools and there’s a lot of commitment.”