From squash to soccer, from cheerleading to frisbee, athletes of all levels can find a home in Kenyon among 11 different club sports.
Despite their popularity, club sports often seem to fall into a gray area at Kenyon: Who is considered a student athlete at Kenyon? When asked this, however, Ransom Ultimate Frisbee president Alexis Reape ’20 didn’t think this was a relevant distinction. “I wouldn’t say I consider myself an athlete,” Reape said. “I consider myself an ultimate frisbee player.”
Though organized under the Office of Student Engagement, these groups have an athletics point person in Head Golf Coach Grant Wallace, who helps the teams reserve space, purchase equipment and arrange travel. The teams are funded by the Business and Finance Committee, though they undertake a significant amount of fundraising on their own.
During the fall and spring seasons, Ransom Ultimate can be found practicing at the intramural fields or across the street from the Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC) three afternoons a week. After practice, they often cram around an Old Side table for team dinner. They also drive to several scrimmages and tournaments each semester. Some are as close as The College of Wooster or Oberlin College; others are as far as Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Between practice, team dinners and road trips, the team spends a lot of time together, and is a tight-knit supportive group.
“I think that [support] really shaped my freshman year … everyone was always nice, and whenever I missed a throw, I’d apologize, and everyone was like ‘Never apologize, you’re fine.’ I just felt like I could learn,” said Izzy Kotlowitz ’20, who has played for Ransom since her first year.
In part, this supportive environment is due to the fact that many on the team had never played before joining. Reape joined the team as a first year, and, though she was an exception to this trend, seems to think that this will change over time. “I think as the sport gets bigger and bigger, you see more high school ultimate programs develop,” she said. “My freshman year, [Georgie Lellman ’20] and I were the only two people who had played before … This year, we have people who played all four years of high school.”
Katrina Peterson ’20, captain of Squash Club, feels that club sports have allowed her to participate in athletics without the demands of a varsity team. “Squash is definitely a big part of my life … but at the same time, I’m not waking up for 5 a.m. practices five days a week, so it’s definitely a lot more chill than other sports,” Peterson said. In a typical semester, the Squash Club plays matches against a club team at The Ohio State University. Unfortunately, due to scheduling issues, the club could not compete this semester, though they maintained their weekly three-hour practice schedule.
Club Soccer also finds itself competing against other colleges, though their matches receive little attention. Each semester, the athletes participate in tournaments and matches against club teams at other Ohio colleges: Denison University, Case Western Reserve University and Oberlin, to name a few. Team members enjoy spending time with one another both on and off the field (or KAC court, if you will). “There’s a strong sense of camaraderie,” captain Jackson Fletcher ’21 said.
Kenyon cheerleaders invest significant time into their sport, with cheer coming close to a year-round commitment. The cheerleading team practices seven hours per week during football season and four hours during basketball season, in addition to time spent at the games themselves, according to captain Jasmine Wilson ’19. The cheerleaders arrange their own transportation to away football games, and they even performed at Dancing with the Kenyon Stars on Dec. 7.
Wilson remembers a team of only eight cheerleaders her first year at Kenyon, but the team has grown to about 14 for the 2017-2018 season. The team frequently goes unrecognized for the hard work they do. “When I tell people I’m on the cheer team, they don’t think that I’m a student athlete,” Wilson said. “They’re just like, ‘Oh, that’s just another club.’” Co-captain Brittany Beckley ’20 said that she frequently wears her cheer uniform around campus on game days to bring more attention to the team. “I try to represent,” she said, “because when [students] don’t come to football games, they’ll be like ‘Oh, I didn’t know you were on the cheer team, let alone that there was a cheer team.’”