Mississippi State University’s University Recreation is adding a new sports club to the 16 already in place—women’s soccer.
Jasmine Chin, a sophomore aerospace engineering major and the team’s vice president, said in the past, women have gathered together to play pick-up soccer at the Sanderson Center and only really competed there. She wanted to find a way to make a real, competitive environment for these women.
Mika McAnally, a sophomore wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture major and the team’s secretary, felt the same way.
“Actually having a club team allows them to still be able to play the sport that they love and to find other people who also love playing soccer,” McAnally said.
Abbie Dupont, University Recreation’s graduate assistant for Competitive Sports, said there is no official university soccer team for men, so the club team has been for them, until this point, to fill that void. The men’s team was open to female players, but Dupont said the new women’s club team is a great opportunity for women looking to continue playing soccer in college, but not at the level of an official university team.
“This gives women an outlet to have their own team. It’ll give girls who want to play at a competitive level, but not necessarily an SEC college team, a place to go and play,” Dupont said.
The team’s tryouts will be held at the university’s intramural fields Sept. 10 and Sept. 12 from 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m. and Sept. 11 from 7:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. McAnally said everyone who is interested is encouraged to attend.
“I don’t think it really matters skill wise, as long as you have the passion to play. I think that’s the most important thing,” McAnally said.
According to Chin, the team already has several games lined up for their season. They will be carpooling to Tuscaloosa to play Auburn and Alabama Sept. 29, and will play their first home game against Ole Miss at 7:00 p.m. Oct. 4.
It takes a lot of work to start up a team, which, Chin said, may be why it has taken so long for a team to be put together. She and others have taken initiative to make this a reality.
Dupont said a lot of clubs fall apart after a few years when the initial founders graduate or step down. She said freshman are encouraged to join in order to keep the team alive and running for a long time.
While playing a college sport for an SEC team is an intimidating time commitment, club sports are more approachable, according to McAnally. The team will not have a coach and will be entirely student-led, Chin said. Chin and other core members have jobs, as well as being in school, and say it is feasible to fit club sports into their schedule.
“At the end of the day, school comes first,” Chin said.
McAnally said it is common to look at club sports as intended for athletes who were not quite good enough to compete at a collegiate level. This is not always the case. Many students, like Chin, go through the college tryout process and end up choosing academics over athletics. Club sports allow people to showcase their talents in a more manageable setting.
Chin and McAnally will both play on the team this season. Chin is looking forward to having fun, trying her best to win and improving her skills with others who enjoy the sport. McAnally is looking forward to developing and playing with the new team members.
“I’m excited by the new girls we are seeing show interest. We need some fresh legs in there,” McAnally said.
According to Dupont, club sports, just like any other student involvement, tend to have a positive influence on academic performance. It can help teach time management and serve as a healthy outlet for players. Even through conditioning, which McAnally said will happen, teammates tend to bond over common interest.
The team is looking forward to a season of learning and bonding, according to both Chin and McAnally. They are excited for tryouts and anticipate a good outcome.
“Anyone who’s interested should definitely come out and give it a go,” Chin said.