Like Clemson’s Division I athletics programs, the university’s club sports teams have also been dealt a rough hand of cards for this school year as the ongoing global pandemic continues. Presidents of their clubs’ sports teams have been continuously exchanging emails with Clemson’s head of club sports and the board in an effort to assemble some sort of schedule for makeshift fall and spring seasons. As if the search for practice fields and time slots were not chaotic enough during regular seasons, now factoring in the COVID-19 pandemic, managing these practice schedules — on top of new safety regulations — has posited an enormous responsibility for the team captains and presidents. However, many club sports programs have still managed to put together some provisional plans. These plans will allow their teams to gather safely and ultimately get back in and on the playing fields, courts, rinks and pools to improve their skills and work their way back towards normalcy.
Notably, one of Clemson’s most competitive and dedicated club sports programs is its men’s lacrosse team. Last semester, this team practiced four times a week under the lights at the La Conte turf fields in Seneca, S.C., which are part of Clemson University’s recreational fields. Having switched time slots with the women’s lacrosse team for the spring semester, the men’s team now practices on the grass fields right beside Death Valley. Continuing their zealous practice schedule of four nights a week, the men’s team is looking forward to potentially playing games this coming March. Clemson Lacrosse President Frank Ihle revealed that Clemson is currently not allowing its club sports teams to host games on campus or at its other facilities, so the lacrosse team will be spending most of its game days and weekends on the road, visiting other schools for this shortened spring season. Despite all the limits and restrictions in place, Ihle and the rest of the team are still happy to be out on the field, continuing to compete with each other.
Another sports team heavily involved at Clemson is the club rowing program. Presenting another competitive atmosphere, this club has a roster consisting of an 80-person crew, making it one of Clemson’s biggest club sports. The crew is divided into four squads, including both men’s and women’s novice and varsity level teams. The novice squads are mostly for newcomers, while more experienced rowers make up the varsity teams. Most of the experienced rowers have moved up from their former novice level squads. For this spring semester, the crew is still managing to practice each day at its designated practice location on Lake Hartwell, with staggered time slots in place to accommodate all four squads as well as other newly faced restrictions. One of the most significant changes enacted this season is the implementation of separate time slots for the men’s and women’s teams. This spring, the men’s team arrives at the boathouse at 4:45 p.m. and the women’s team at 5:15 p.m. Their practices are both on land and on the lake, involving workouts such as “erging” on land and rowing on the water. The teams’ competition schedules are tentative because of the safety regulations in place at Clemson and other schools. However, the captains are actively contacting members of neighboring teams, like Georgia Tech and North Carolina, in order to agree upon ad hoc contest dates and locations.
The team’s public relations officer, Lexie Mehallis, remains optimistic about this spring semester season, saying, “Overall, it is still going to be a successful season for the team, with plenty of new members learning to love rowing and our varsity teams getting faster and more prepared for what will hopefully be a normal fall and spring next year.”
Clemson’s club sports teams are back in action and making the most out of this semester.