Posted by Matt Salm
For most of high school, sports were the main concern in my life. I still did well in school, was involved in clubs, socialized frequently, and participated in service activities, but I cared more about succeeding in soccer and track than succeeding in any of those other endeavors.
In college, that changed rapidly. I encountered a brand new set of challenges and commitments. I had responsibilities within the McDermott Program, difficult classes in UTD’s Math Cohort Program, and service projects with Sustainability Club that I genuinely cared about. I could no longer spend 20-30 hours a week on athletics and do everything else I wanted to do. I had to start managing my time differently, but I still wanted to be active. I still wanted to be fit, and I wanted to continue to play competitive soccer. I couldn’t just walk away from something that had been such a big part of my identity for many years.
I tried a wide variety of activities, looking to satiate my desire for athletic competition without dedicating 25 hours a week to it. I rock climbed with my roommates, went running with friends, and joined a rec soccer league.
In my sophomore year, I decided to join the UTD Men’s Club Soccer Team – one of the best decisions I’ve made in college. The team is full of talented guys who love to play, and we have a great time together. Everyone recognizes, though, that soccer isn’t the most important thing in our lives – it’s exactly the environment I was looking for.
We practice twice a week. It’s a great stress-reliever and a very fun way to stay active. We typically have one game per weekend in September and October, and a big tournament for playoffs at the end of October. One of my favorite weekends of my entire sophomore year was the Regional tournament; we played extremely well, and were only one game away from qualifying for Nationals! The team looks good again this year, and I’m excited to see what we can accomplish.
But a lot matters more than winning games. I’ve made a number of friends on the Club Soccer team that I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and I’m very thankful for that. We’ll sometimes grab dinner as a group the night before games, and we usually socialize after games.
The best part of being on the club soccer team for me, though, is that it doesn’t inhibit my ability to be involved in other organizations. Because we only have two practices a week, I have enough time to be president of Sustainability Club and handle the workload of my Math Cohort classes. Furthermore, it’s okay if I occasionally miss practice for a Student Ambassador event, and it’s okay if I miss a game during the season so that I can fly back home and visit family. The team still requires players to be committed, but they understand that sometimes life gets in the way of soccer. I love that.
Club Soccer has provided a wonderful outlet for me. I can play competitive soccer and be a part of a great team, but I can still pursue plenty of other interests. It satisfies my need for athletic competition without consuming my life. Club Soccer is a blast, and it’s helped me find a healthy balance among sports, school, and other aspects of college life.