Club sports at NSU are no strangers to competition. Separate from NCAA-affiliated collegiate sports, club sports on campus range in variety from rowing to ping pong, and some compete in regional and national tournaments.
Demon Crew was created in 1988 by Dr. Lisa Wolffe and has been an active organization ever since, practicing on Cane River and Chaplin’s Lake and spending time on rowing machines in preparation for competition.
President Stewart Sloan says he was inspired to join Crew before he was even in college; his high school fencing instructor rowed at NSU during his time on campus in the ’90s.
Senior rower Glory Deaton’s experience joining Crew was quite different than Sloan’s. She says she was never an athlete before she joined in the second semester of her freshman year but now “wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
“It’s so worth it,” she says. “I’ve made so many good friends … and you get to travel to so many cool places.
“Being in the boat [is] very calming. When the oar hits the water and when the boat is perfectly in sync, and y’all are just feeling the rhythm of the boat together … you have that perfect balance, [and] it’s just – you get chills.”
The rowing team will host a tournament March 10 in downtown Natchitoches. Both Deaton and Sloan encourage students and community members alike to support Crew and attend the competition.
Students can join Crew at the beginning of each semester and have a two-week period to test out how they like the sport.
Demon Dodgeball faced off against Georgia Southern University and the University of North Georgia at the Mardi Gras Madness Tournament Feb. 17. Captain Casey Alfultis says the team was excited to host the tournament since they haven’t been able to compete as much this academic year.
Though the Demons lost their four back-to-back matches, President Katie Rayburn says they needed the playing experience and are still proud to have organized the tournament itself.
“We were outnumbered and had less experience than the other [teams], but we still held our own against well-practiced and well-organized teams,” she says.
Similar to other club sports on campus, students do not need prior experience to join the dodgeball team and can join at any time.
“It’s a good excuse to get active, [especially] if you can’t be in a [NCAA] college sport,” Alfultis says.
Rayburn says there are opportunities to learn the different positions on the team, each having strategic importance, such as the following: blockers, catchers and heavy hitters.
“Playing for a full 45 minutes is tiring,” she says, and that people who claim dodgeball isn’t a sport “clearly haven’t played.”
The team will travel to the National Collegiate Dodgeball Association national tournament April 20-22, 2018, in Richmond, Virginia.
Demon Quidditch, which derives from the fictional sport in the “Harry Potter” series, functions as both a club sport and social club at NSU.
Though they are not a member institution of the U.S. Quidditch league, the team still competes against regional teams such as Stephen F. Austin State University and in tournaments in Baton Rouge.
Rhiannon Venable, president and sophomore secondary education major, urges students who may be interested to attend a meeting. They not only focus on the sport aspect and team business but try to make meetings fun with games and other activities.
Though quidditch may look physically difficult, Venable says, it is not as tough as it seems.
“I’m not really that athletic, and I have a blast,” she says. “For me, in my freshman year, it was like the only socialization I had. It’s a great medium for a lot of people to just get out of their dorm every week.”
Venable’s role as president has been a large commitment in conjunction with her education major requirements, so she looks forward to seeing members at meetings each week.
“It’s a great way to hang out with people that I wouldn’t be able to see otherwise,” she says.
Demon Quidditch meets Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. in Room 320 of the Friedman Student Union.
The Ping Pong Club, new on the club sports scene at NSU, was created last semester by freshman Micheal Weaver. He emphasizes that you do not have to have any prior experience to join or have to be particularly athletic – one of the reasons he was drawn to it in the first place.
“It’s a sport that you don’t have to be strong or fast or tall to play. It’s something that anybody can be good at,” the president says. “If you don’t have experience, we want you [to join] even more.”
Weaver says the club is more than just hitting ping pong balls across a table.
“You learn a little bit about yourself [through ping pong]; you really do,” he says. “Each time you play, you take something and learn from it … It’s about improving yourself and taking that improvement and implying it into other areas of your life.”
The club has yet to set up official competitions but holds practices at the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity house or the WRAC on Tuesday and Thursday around 5-6 p.m. Weaver has goals to spread ping pong not just on campus but to other schools in the region for those that don’t already have existing teams.
The NSU Fishing team ranked second in the nation according to Cabela’s School of the Year on Feb. 6. The team competed at the Texas Lunker Challenge Feb. 11 where Dustin Nash placed third overall with his 6.55 pound catch.
With more than 200 athletes competing, Logan Laprarie ranked 23rd; Gregory Green, 32nd; Jake Roberts, 61st; Ethan Howe, 69th; and Johnny Ledet, 82nd. Kyle McAllen, Tanner Mizell, Kreston Phelps and Branndon Pope also competed in the tournament.
The Archers’ Association, though not currently active, seeks to provide students with a safe learning environment in which they can practice archery techniques.
Along with club sports, the WRAC also offers intramural activities. The spring 2018 schedule can be found online at imleagues.com/NSULA