Penn State Club Sports earn a record six national titles

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- During the 2012-13 academic year, Penn State’s Club Sports took home a record six national titles in field hockey, men’s lacrosse, women’s rugby, baseball, men’s track and field, and women’s cross-country. What is more amazing than these wins is the fact that it was done within a program that emphasizes community involvement and participation over athletic prowess.

Club Sports at the University Park campus of Penn State is an entirely student-driven program that demands that no one be cut from any of the 80 clubs available to all students. Beyond the total participation mandate, clubs stress involvement in the University community and the social aspect of the clubs over the athletic component. In fact, competing against other schools is not a requirement of the program.

"I think the value of a student's participation in a club sport is two fold," said Tommy Otterbine, coordinator of the Club Sports program at Penn State. "First, club sports are great for students who want to continue to be physically active; these clubs give the students a nice alternative to just studying. In other words, it helps to continue the health and wellness aspect of a student's life. Second, club sports allow students an opportunity to be involved in the University community. I think it is fair to say that our club sports participants are more involved in the University, as a community, than any other university club sports across the country. At Penn State this experience includes participation in THON, clinics, socials and many other activities."

Andy Georgeson, a 2013 Penn State biology graduate in Schreyer Honors College, took participation in the Baseball Club to the highest level, serving as president for the past two years and contributing to the team’s national championship this year as a first-team, all-region selection.

Andrew Georgeson

Andrew Georgeson was a member of Penn State's Club Sports baseball.

Image: Alison Bongiorno

“Being the president of the club allowed me to evolve as a leader and learn budgeting and organizational skills, while overseeing a $40,000 fund,” said Georgeson, who will continue his education in medical school at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. “In addition, I learned team-building skills by playing baseball for four years. My teammates have basically been my best friends.“

Penn State tops the Big Ten in participants and number of clubs

Last year, more than 5,200 students or in excess of 10 percent of the student population participated in one or more club sports. In comparison, these participation numbers are more than double the next closest Big Ten universities -- the University of Michigan, which has about 2,000 participants, and Indiana University, which has approximately 1,900 participants.

Penn State’s 80 club sports lead the Big Ten in number of offerings; Ohio State is second with 50; and Indiana University is third at 48 clubs.

Club sports vs. IM sports

Confusion sometimes arises about the difference between club sports and intramural (IM) sports. Club sports are student run and the participants must raise about 90 percent of the money needed for competitions and other expenses. On the other hand, intramural sports are administered by University employees, who schedule game officials and set up the competitions within the school. Additionally, club sports often compete against other colleges; intramural sports involve competitions within groups of Penn State students and generally do not compete at other universities.

Although athletic achievement is not the focus of club sports, there are athletes who have used the program to help build and hone their skills. One such notable example is Olympic medalist Natalie Dell, a 2007 Penn State graduate in advertising and public relations in the College of Communications. Dell had never rowed in her life before coming to Penn State, but because the Crew Club -- like all club sports -- did not cut anyone from participation she was able to pursue this interest. Through hard work and dedication on her part and exposure to the sport by this Penn State club, Dell went on to earn a bronze medal as a part of the women’s quadruple sculls team in the 2012 Olympic Games.

Natalie Dell

Natalie Dell, Penn State Olympian, proudly displayed her bronze medal from the 2012 Summer Olympics as she motored through the Penn State Homecoming Parade on Oct. 5. Dell earned her medal as part of the USA Rowing team.

Image: Penn State

Students interested in participating in any of these athletic- and community-oriented clubs, can go to http://www.athletics.psu.edu/recreation/csindex.asp or call 814-865-9202.

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Last Updated July 23, 2013