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The Beautiful Game: A Snapshot of Womxn’s Club Soccer

Zoë highlights her involvement with sports at Carleton as a non-varsity athlete.

Zoë highlights her involvement with sports at Carleton as a non-varsity athlete.

Arriving at Carleton, I had no idea that being active was so widespread among the student body. More than half of Carleton students engage with sports in some capacity, whether that be at the varsity, club, or intramural level. This was a pleasant surprise, and I really enjoy being part of a community that prioritizes exercise. With a campus that boasts 3 gyms (The Recreation Center, Cowling, and West Gym) and an 880 acre arboretum with 15 miles of well-maintained trails, there are plenty of spots for sports and recreation to take place.

As a kid and teenager I played soccer as my main sport, and for a while it was one of my central non-academic interests. However, with other extracurricular activities taking up more time and my focus shifting to other commitments, I stopped playing freshman year of high school. Unbeknownst to me, my experience with the sport would come in handy in college! Getting involved with club and intramural sports on campus has been a fantastic avenue to stay active and make friends, and I’m so glad soccer is such a well-loved and celebrated sport by Carls.

Joining the Club Soccer Team

Winter term of freshman year, my friend Kelly introduced me to the Womxn’s club soccer team. I hadn’t expected to play soccer again after I stopped playing competitively, but when the opportunity arose to play without as much stress or commitment, I decided to give it a shot.

club soccer
The club soccer team last spring term in 2021! Note: we abided by the college’s COVID rules on safely holding an outdoor gathering.

I remember that my initial apprehension of playing soccer again—after several years without touching a ball—dissipated almost immediately. My captains and team members were super warm, friendly, and encouraging. They completely suspended their judgment of me as someone who was pretty rusty. It was nice to get my foot back on the ball, and my love for juggling, playing small sided games, and completing footwork drills was refreshed.

The best part about club sports is that you get to play intercollegiate games against other club teams, go to practices throughout the week, and attend social events, but without the pressure of being on a varsity team. All club sports are led by students themselves, and the juniors and seniors who were captains served as great mentors and role models for the younger members of the team. With practices planned and games scheduled by the captains, the team relies on their leadership and guidance. I’d say that the best outcome of my involvement with club soccer has been meeting new people who share a love of soccer with me, making several close friends in the process! 

Team Dinners & Other Fun Stuff

Aside from playing soccer together, the team does a lot of bonding activities. Weekly team dinners after practice are a regular part of the schedule, as are weekend social events and the occasional team outing off campus. Sophomore year during fall term several of us made a trip to Fireside Orchard, a nearby apple orchard where we spent the afternoon picking apples and snapping some cute photos. Afterward, we got dinner together and hung out as a team.

fireside orchard
An afternoon in the orchard well spent.

We also had a barbecue night in which the captains bought hot dogs, veggie dogs, and supplies to make banana boats for dessert! After practice, we congregated by a grill set up near Watson Hall, ate dinner together, and played some frisbee games. These team events are a lovely way to bond with teammates and take a break from academics.

One of my favorite recent memories with the team occurred near the end of spring term when it was getting quite toasty outside. We all walked to The Blast, a new ice cream shop that opened in downtown Northfield and is only a 5-minute walk away from campus. We treated ourselves to some delicious soft serve and sat beneath a gazebo by the river, sadly bidding farewell to the graduating seniors who had served as our captains. 

the blast
Getting ice cream from The Blast to celebrate the end of the school year.

Another Perk: Super Cool Swag!

Along with new soccer balls, cones, and pennies, our captains savvily used some of our organization’s budget (allocated by the Carleton Student Association) for some fresh equipment. Perhaps one of the most exciting purchases were Womxn’s Club Soccer sweatshirts and Carleton soccer jerseys for official games. The sweatshirts will be perfect to wear for our warmups before our games this fall.

soccer sweatshirts
Kelly and me reppin’ the Womxn’s Club Soccer team in our brand new sweatshirts.

Summer Pick-Up Soccer

While club soccer runs during the school year, this summer pick-up games have been a fun recreational activity after work. Throughout the summer, a group of people have met up to play casual games together. Every time I’ve gone a different combination of people haven shown up. As a result, going to soccer in the evenings has been a great way to meet new people, get exercise in an inclusive environment, and enjoy the game.

pick-up soccer
Kelly, Ethan, Joe, and me after an exhausting but fun pick-up game.

I hope this blog posts provides a good snapshot of what athletic involvement looks like for the average Carl. By no means must you be super coordinated, amazing at a sport, or in the best shape of your life. Staying active for me means going on long walks in the arb, attending soccer practice, and taking a term-long yoga class for physical education credit. For someone else, it could look like playing intramural broomball in the winter and a swing dance class in the spring. For others, their varsity sport is a year-round endeavor. No matter your athletic ability or prior familiarity with a given sport, you have tons of opportunities available to you as a Carl!

Zoë is a junior Sociology-Anthropology major who loves traveling and studying abroad, taking photos, and luxuriating in long walks in the glorious Arb. At Carleton, some of Zoë’s favorite pastimes include frequenting the various coffee shops in downtown Northfield, playing cello in the orchestra, participating in club soccer, and spending time with friends. Meet the other Bloggers!