Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

Discovering Club Sports at Kenyon

Benjamin Jagolinzer
January 16, 2017

Like a few of the activities I’m involved in at Kenyon, I became a member of the Club Soccer team somewhat by chance. Let’s flash back to the Outdoors Club pre-Orientation program, a four-day hiking trip for incoming first-year students. I was making small-talk with people for the four-thousandth time that trip and someone mentioned soccer. I’m sure my eyes lit up from excitement. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been obsessed with professional soccer and had played the sport all my life. This was something I could surely relate to.

Eventually, one of the trip leaders hinted that he was a captain of the Club Soccer team: my in. Probably looking incredibly stupid, I did my best to suck up and boast my supreme soccer intelligence. The trip leader, seemingly unimpressed with my knowledge, did let me know that the team was a very low commitment and a great group of people. With my newfound connections, I couldn’t wait to get back to campus and play.

At the beginning of the year, Kenyon hosts an activities fair so that new students can learn about all the clubs and activities that are available on campus. As someone constantly playing a sport in high school, I knew that I wanted to be a similar athlete in college. Naturally I found myself at the Club Soccer table putting my name down on the signup list.

I received the first email from Club Soccer about a week after the activities fair. The next day, I texted my friend from pre-Orientation who had also agreed to go on this soccer journey with me, and we ventured down to the fields behind the KAC.

As much as I couldn’t wait to get back out on the field, I was equally nervous. Who knew how truly inviting the players were going to be? What if I was the worst one on the team? Such thoughts certainly crossed my mind as we made the seemingly endless walk from McBride to the KAC. Eventually, we made it, and I laced up my old cleats and somewhat hesitantly made my way onto the pitch. The captains handed out pinnies and before I knew it, the ball was in play. No stretching? No drills? No warmup? As I quickly learned, Club Soccer was a scrimmage-only kind of team; very quickly, this became my type of team too.

As soon as the ball came to my feet, all the nerves and preoccupations went away. At long last, I was reunited with my old friend, the ball, and all was well. I played surprisingly well considering my long hiatus from organized soccer, and the guys and girls on the team were as welcoming as I was promised they would be. At the end of the practice I knew this would become a part of my weekly routine. Little did I know it would be so much more.

Through Club Soccer, I have met people and befriended people that I never would have met in my day-to-day Kenyon life. Being a lost first year was no longer so scary now that I had a dozen or so upperclassmen I could rely on. It was the perfect crutch to get my Kenyon career off to a healthy start. I got to exercise and have fun three days a week, and I instantly knew 20 more people on this small campus that can feel enormous as a first-year student.

Now that I have other communities that are relevant in my life, Club Soccer has taken somewhat of a backseat role, unfortunately. I have gotten busier in my regular life and no longer have the time to attend all three weekly practices. That being said, I try my best to get down there and to be the supportive, welcoming upperclassman, just in case a nervous first year like me comes along. Still, I’ll never turn down the offer from the club to go watch an English Premier League game on the TV in someone’s apartment or even in Olin Auditorium. And I will always be thankful for the role Club Soccer played in my first few weeks and beyond.