From cricket to soccer: Club sports at Dartmouth
By Nishant Rastogi
Published on Monday, March 9, 2009
With the attention and funding given to varsity sports at Dartmouth, it is often easy to forget the strong club sports lineup boasted by the College. Many club teams at Dartmouth are competitive on both a regional and national level. Whether it is the men's and women's ultimate frisbee squads celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans, or the figure skating team repeatedly qualifying for the national championships, club sports at Dartmouth thrive due to a committed following of student-athletes.
The Dartmouth Club Cricket team, for its part, has been patiently waiting for this winter to end. Forced to practice indoors throughout the past term, the cricket team will kick of its season as soon as spring arrives. Last year, the team went 5-3, and its members hope to build off of that success, according to Amitavo Mitra, a Dartmouth graduate student and the team's capitan.
"We are hoping to play 10 games," he said. "We have a good core of returnees, but we are also looking forward to introducing some young blood. Hopefully we will be able to have another winning season."
According to Mitra, the cricket team will mostly play other clubs around New England, but does have some games planned against college teams. In the past the team has competed against Middlebury College, Boston University, Yale and the University of Vermont.
Mitra said that the team is made up of "predominantly grad students and staff members," but does have a few undergraduate members. Mitra attributed the team's make-up to the fact that cricket is not as popular in the United States and it is elsewhere -- most members of the team are international students.
The first game of the cricket season will be played at Leverone Field House against a club team from Merrimack, N.H. The date of the game has not yet been determined.
Perhaps the most successful club sport at Dartmouth, though, is figure skating. The figure skating club team has won the last five consecutive figure skating national championships. This season, however, has been slightly different than those past, said co-captain Katie Schmidt '09.
"This year is a lot different because one of our long-term coaches left over the summer, and so we had two new coaches come in November and there have been a lot of changes," Schmidt said.
Despite the transition, however, Schmidt said that the team has been improving, and said that she is confident about the team's chances at the national championship, which will take place in Colorado Springs, Colo., in April.
"We are definitely capable of repeating as champions, because we have been working hard throughout the year," Schmidt said.
The national competition will consist of 35 starts, and the events are divided up with different levels of freestyle skate and dance events. According to Schmidt, the team has been successful in the past because they have versatile skaters who can participate in all of the events.
The men's volleyball team has also qualified for nationals this year. The team began its season with a bang, as it finished first in a preseason tournament at the University of Vermont. From there, the squad went 3-1 at Dartmouth, and will travel to Kansas City, Mo., next month to participate in the National Campus Championship Series National Volleyball Championships.
One of the most popular club sports at Dartmouth is undoubtedly ultimate Frisbee. ALthough the winter pushed most frisbee throwers off of the Green, the team has been practicing regularly indoors.
In the fall, the men's team traveled to Athens, Ga., and played in a tournament at the University of Georgia. There they faced the University of Florida, the No. 1 team in the nation, the University of Texas and the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Although the men's team did not do as well as it hoped in the competition, team captain Owen Roberts '09 said he was still pleased with the team's performance.
Roberts called the fall matches "tryout tournaments," and said that their purpose is to see how new players can perform, and how they fit in with the team. Roberts also said that the team was not "super invested" in its performance, but rather focused on figuring out lineups.
The team was set back this winter, Roberts said, because many of the older players were off-campus. Roberts said the team was "pretty shorthanded," but still hoped to improve.
The biggest tournament of Winter term for the team was the Mardi Gras Tournament in Baton Rouge, La., where the team faced big names such as the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina and the Georgia Institute of Technology and Texas.
"The team went down with 20 guys, eight of whom were freshmen," Roberts said. "Even though we didn't have too much success, everyone still played solidly. The team was really young."
Roberts again described the winter tournaments as "warm-up tourneys," adding that spring is by far the team's most important season.
The men will next travel to Georgia and North Carolina for two tournaments over spring break. The first weekend of spring break the team will compete in the Southerns Tournament at Georgia, and the second weekend they will be in Wilmington, N.C., to compete in the Easterns Tournament.
Roberts said the team is "looking forward to reinstating the guys who were off," and said he is confident that the team will start winning again.
"Last year we won the region, and so we are looking forward to repeating the success," he said.
The women's ultimate frisbee team is also looking forward to what it expects to be a successful season. The women's team also competed in the Mardi Gras tournament, and reached the semi-finals.
"We are usually still very much a developing team in the winter, so being able to do well at our winter tournament says a lot about how quickly the team has been coming together this year," captain Molly Roy '09 said.
The team, which calls itself The Princess Layout 2009, will also compete in tournaments over spring break, traveling Georgia to play in Southerns, then continuing on to Austin, Texas, to play in the Centex tournament.
The big test for both the men's and women's ultimate teams will come in May, when the Ultimate Players Association Series starts. The Series consists of three tournaments: sectionals, regionals and nationals. Both the men's and women's teams will first compete against other teams in the New Hampshire and Maine Section, and then, depending on their performance, can qualify for regionals and later nationals.
The Dartmouth taekwondo club also practiced in the winter, and will look to compete in tournaments next term, according to team captain Jonathan Eisenberg '09. Dartmouth taekwondo was founded in 1984 by Javier Arizmendi '86, a former member of the Mexican National Team, and has since grown significantly. The Dartmouth club also founded the Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference, in which it hopes to compete in later this year.
Eisenberg said the club holds classes three times a week for all those interested in participating.
Robbie Moss '12, who currently plays on the club soccer team, said he has really enjoyed his experience with Dartmouth club sports.
"Being a freshman on the squad is amazing," he said. "The guys on the team are awesome. You get to play the sport you love at a competitive level and get better at it."
The team has enjoyed its fair share of success this year. It traveled to Vermont and Boston last term, and this term is playing in an indoor league in Grantham, N.H., just a few miles outside of Hanover. During these trips the team has faced the University of Connecticut, the University of Vermont, Boston College, Northeastern University, Tufts University, Harvard and Brandeis University.
"During the spring we'll be practicing again, but we'll only be playing three or four games," Moss said. "We mostly play during the fall and in the indoor league during the winter."
The attitude of all the athletes participating in Dartmouth club sports was probably best summed up by Moss as he talked about his team. He finished with a simple yet powerful remark.
"Club soccer is awesome, man."