Western Washington University's varsity sports teams have made a lot of noise on the national level in the last couple of years.
The men’s basketball team bagged a national title and Final Four appearance, and the women’s basketball team also made it to the Final Four.
The women’s crew team has been historically dominant, with a recent run of seven straight national titles, and women’s soccer set a school record last year with 19 wins.
However, Western’s athletic prowess extends far beyond the varsity teams. Club sports, which are available to all students and do not require varsity status, had a huge year collectively with several teams making, and even winning, national tournaments.
Western has 21 club sports, ranging from an equestrian team to men and women’s rugby. The clubs are heavily organized by the players and each team competes in its own division. Some of these divisions allow students from different colleges to play on one team.
The hockey team plays in Division I of the National Association of Intercollegiate Hockey, (NAIH) which allows students from other colleges such as Whatcom Community College to play.
John Dougan, who has been the hockey coach for five years, said that 70 to 80 percent of his team is made up of Western students and the rest are from Whatcom.
The team won the NAIH championship last season against Le Moyne College of Syracuse, N.Y. in March.
Rugby coach Paul Horne and Dougan pointed to the fact that players have to choose to put the time and money into playing as reasons for the competitive spirit of the their teams.
“We don’t cut people, they cut themselves,” Horne said.
Carl Smith is a member of the men’s crew team that won the Northwest Collegiate Rowing Championship in 2012 and 2013.
“You have to pay to go out and do it,” Smith said. “You end up with the guys on the team who are most dedicated to it.”
Club sport players are in charge of everything from the tryouts to travel itinerary for competitions, and they also communicate with Western. Sport Club Council meetings are held and an elected player attends the meeting.
“It’s well organized and pretty high quality of play,” Dougan said of his hockey team.
Some of the teams do not have tryouts, such as the rugby team and the crew team. A student with any skill level can join a club team.
“Everyone should get a chance to play,” Dougan said.
Club sports are given a small budget from Western. However, the students’ primary means of raising money is through fundraising, team dues or fees and donations. Players are also required to perform a certain number of community service hours.
Most of the teams will have a booth at the Red Square fall Info Fair. Players will be there to promote their team and answer questions that students have.