UVM knows how to club

The year of club sports is upon us. With a top-notch Division I program, it’s easy to overlook the other tiers of competitive sports at UVM. This year, however, club sports are making runs worthy of recognition.

The men’s rugby team, for example, is running a 4-1 record in their league as they enter the playoffs.

The team has gained enough success that it will get the chance to travel to Ireland for a week of rugby in the sport’s home country.

The club baseball team — the club version of the recently and controversially cut Division I program — is another popular sport at this level. In its first year as a club team, the 2010 fall season, it was the undefeated league champion. Now in its second season, it sits in second place in the Northwest Division of the New England Club Baseball Association with a 5-3 record.

The running club is another secret in UVM athletics. It qualified for and will be competing in the National Intercollegiate Running Club Association’s Northeast Regionals on Oct. 29.

Members of the running club, such as senior Colby Nixon, have also had opportunities to compete in prestigious races such as the Boston Marathon. “This was obviously the biggest race I’ve ever done, and I qualified easily with a 2:57 at the Bay State Marathon in Lowell, Mass.,” Nixon said.

Qualifying easily caused him to overlook the intensity of the marathon. “I definitely underestimated the need to hydrate early in the race. That was a mistake.”

Nixon was able to make it through on the crowd’s energy.

“The spectators don’t care if you’re running a 2:04 marathon or five plus hours, they yell just as loudly for everyone,” he said.

Although it took him longer to finish the marathon than he had hoped, he is optimistic for future races.

“I ended up running it slower than I wanted [3:04], but I’ll be back on the line in Hopkinton again in 2012,” Nixon said.

The running club offers a place to everyone, not only to those as experienced as Nixon.

“It’s meant to be a club for all levels of runners, and act as a way for runners to connect,” Nixon said.

“It’s a great way to get out and run without having the commitment of a varsity sport. Although we do race in competitions against other running clubs and in local road races, we try to keep the vibe laid back.”

Another competitive team at UVM is club football. Before beating the No. 1-rated club football team in the nation, UVM football was ranked third nationally. After a victory over top-rated Southwestern Connecticut on Oct. 15, UVM became the No. 1 club football team in the nation.

Senior captain Chad Foley has been watching his team develop as he leads it to a promisingly bright playoff run. He made first team in the Yankee Collegiate Club Football Conference last year and has already racked up five interceptions in four games this season, contributing immensely to their so-far-undefeated status.

Foley said of his experience with the team, “I’ve been playing since I was a sophomore.  The talent of our players, the competition in our league and the overall experience of playing on the team have all improved tremendously each year.”  

He loves not only playing the game, but also the athletes he plays it with.

“The group of guys we have is not only a solid bunch of athletes, but great friends to have.  We see each other on the field four days a week and hang out off the field all the time.  I will stay in touch with many of my teammates for the rest of my life,” Foley said.

Foley has high hopes for the rest of the season.

“Last year we made it to our league championship game and lost to the team we just beat this past weekend.  Now we’re No. 1 in the league at 4-0 with two regular season games left. We expect nothing less than an undefeated season with a championship win,” Foley said.

The words “undefeated” and “championship” are becoming more and more familiar to UVM’s club sports and this seems to only be the beginning of what will become a very dominant era.