By: Mollie Lastovica
College can be a time to try new things, foster unique experiences and step outside of your comfort zone. Lauren Metcalf and Katie Spiekermann have done just that through their participation on teams sponsored by the Texas A&M Sport Club Association, balancing classwork with intercollegiate athletics in sports many students are unfamiliar with.
Metcalf, a sophomore agricultural science major, joined the Texas A&M University Crew Club during the spring semester of her freshman year, and Spiekermann, a junior agricultural communications and journalism major is a current member of the Texas A&M Women’s Water Polo team.
“I wanted to stay in shape in college and I wanted to try something new that a lot of people didn’t know about,” Metcalf said. “It looked like a lot of fun.”
Her desire for a fun and athletic experience has, over the year, turned into a passion that requires much dedication and commitment.
“We have three practices a week in the water and once a week we have a land practice. We are also assigned to do workouts on our own twice per week,” Metcalf said.
The co-ed team travels to monthly regattas, or meets, both in Texas and out of state to compete against NCAA sanctioned schools.
“We go to whatever regattas we can find,” Metcalf said. “We do pretty well and even beat the NCAA teams sometimes. Regattas are hard to come by, so if there is one, everyone goes to it. People travel really far for them because the availability is so small.”
Race distance varies per season from two kilometers during the spring sprint season and six kilometers during the fall distance season. Each regatta has different divisions including men, women and mixed gender boats. For Metcalf, the mixed division is the most exhilarating.
“Guys are known for going really fast because they are strong and powerful, but girls tend to be known for their form,” Metcalf said. “When you combine those two skillsets it’s really cool.”
Metcalf’s whim decision to join the team she now considers family attests to the Wisconsin native’s zest for seizing unique opportunities.
“Out of all the schools I was looking at, I chose to come to Texas because it was the furthest away from home and I wanted to be submerged in a whole different culture,” Metcalf said. “People who join crew tend to be more adventurous and they aren’t afraid to step out and try new things.”
This thrill for adventure has carried Metcalf through her first year and a half of college and she intends to continue living with the concept of taking risks at the front of her mind.
“It is important to try new things because if you don’t try it you’ll never know if you like it,” Metcalf said. “Variety is the spice of life.”
Spiekermann also notes the importance of stepping out on a limb; having experience in the sport of water polo did not make her decision to join the team any less intimidating.
“I played in high school and missed it, so I decided to be brave and try it out,” Spiekermann said. “I was so scared at first.”
Spiekermann first took interest in the sport after watching her older sisters play.
“We are not very good at land sports and our parents put us all in swimming at a very young age,” Spiekermann said. “I wanted to be just like them.”
Now, she considers water polo to be an interest of her own and is grateful for the stress relief it provides during the five, two-hour-long practices she attends every week.
“I love it because you get to be a completely different person in the water. It is a good way to vent your frustrations,” Spiekermann said.
The competitive season for water polo runs throughout the spring semester. In 2013, the team will compete in three Texas tournaments and one out of state tournament to be hosted at Notre Dame. College Station will host one of the three in-state tournaments Feb. 9-10 and Spiekermann encourages everyone to attend.
“Everyone is invited to watch,” Spiekermann said. “It is pretty entertaining.”
Spiekermann is most grateful for the friends she has made in her water polo teammates.
“They are my best friends,” Spiekermann said. “Even if you are having the worst day in the world, you can go to practice and be crying because you are laughing so hard by the end of it. It is something to look forward to at the end of the day.”
While she knows there are other students who at first, like her, might be afraid to join a club team, Spiekermann assures her peers that it is the right decision.
“Just try it. I was terrified at first, but if you keep going, you will end up with an amazing group of friends that are just like you,” Spiekermann said. “Club sports are great because you get to play a sport that you love, but you are doing it because you love it and you are there because you want to be.”