Do you ever miss the experience of a morning PT exercise with your unit? Maybe not, but don’t forget some of the friendships and teamwork that would take place during these exercises.
College sports can convey some of the same bonds. One of the moments I always look back on is during runs when people who were faster would try to keep pace with those who were slower in order to keep them going and inspire them. We were a team, and if one of us failed, we all failed. ESPN Magazine’s Tim Keown has this to say about the relationship between college sports and the military, “If there is a connection between war and sports, it can be encapsulated in one sentence: The cause is bigger than the individual.” For student veterans, there is a chance to experience that again.
COLLEGE SPORTS OPTIONS
There are several options for students wishing to play college sports.
Club sports are the most laid back form of sports at a college or university. They generally do not require attendance to every meeting and will sometimes include non-traditional sports like kickball or wiffle ball.
Intramural sports offer the chance to participate in a sport without the level of competition and commitment necessary for varsity sports. Intramural sports are played against other students at your college and require less time to practice and get ready for games. The schedule is also less intense and it is easier to drop the intramural sports if you find your schedule is too hectic.
Intercollegiate sports are the biggest commitment for student athletes. Many students who participate in intercollegiate sports are recruited right out of high school. They require you to adhere to NCAA guidelines and attend all practices and games. Students will have to build their class schedule around the game/practice schedule. They also provide the biggest rewards, though. Student athletes can receive scholarships and could possibly even be recruited to play semi-professionally or professionally if they truly excel at a top university.
STUDENT VETERANS WITH DISABILITIES
Students with disabilities who wish to play sports should consult the campus’ disability resource office, the athletics office or some other type of campus-life advisor. There are movements on many campuses to incorporate guidelines that allow students with different disabilities to participate in club and intramural sports. Of course, a disability does not prevent you from the chance to try out for intercollegiate sports. However, if the disability prevents you from adequately performing as a college athlete, coaches may decide to not choose you for a team. If you feel you are being discriminated against, you should again contact your school disability resources office or the office of the vice president or president of student affairs.
Collegiate sports offer a chance for students to experience a great amount of camaraderie. This is a huge draw for many student veterans. While our military careers may have come to an end, we will continue to have opportunities in life to join different organizations that portray a certain level of membership. Sports organizations are a great way to be a part of a team or group and work together toward a common goal while staying in shape.
HOW TO ENROLL
To enroll in any level of collegiate sports you can contact your school’s office of student involvement or the athletics department directly. Make sure to discuss these plans with your academic advisor as well so you have RT a planned schedule and are not overwhelming yourself.
OTHER PROS OF PLAYING SPORTS
The most obvious positive result from playing sports is the health benefits you will experience. Other benefits include a chance to connect with other students, make friends, ward off stress, and evade boredom.