A Different Way to Play
U of I Sport Clubs Let Students Enjoy Playing While Leaving Time for Bonding
For Hannah Belveal, it was the perfect way to rekindle her passion for volleyball.
Grant Billings saw an opportunity to keep playing soccer at a high level while testing the waters to see if he might want to coach someday.
Paul Riebe didn’t have any formal experience in logger sports before arriving on campus. He mainly thought it would be cool to cut into logs with a chainsaw or axe.
Belveal, Billings and Riebe are three of the approximately 400 students that actively participate in club sports at University of Idaho. According to Butch Fealy, associate director of competitive and recreational sports at the Student Recreation Center, most students who play club sports not only have fun playing, but also develop skills outside their sport.
“Being involved in club sports teaches students so many things they will use later in life,” he said. “They become better students because they learn time management skills and leadership skills. Everything the clubs do, like travel and fundraising, is done by the students.”
Belveal ‘22 discovered club volleyball at just the right time – when she was ready to admit that she missed it.
After playing for 13 years, she finished her senior year of high school in Meridian burned out on the sport and decided she was done. During her freshman year at U of I, she struck up a conversation with a classmate, who was the volleyball club president at the time. Before long, she found herself back on the court.
The great part about club sports is that you represent your school at competitions but playing doesn’t monopolize your time like playing for the Vandals would. Hannah Belveal, volleyball sport club
“I’m very competitive and I realized I needed that in my life,” Belveal said. “The great part about club sports is that you represent your school at competitions, but playing doesn’t monopolize your time like playing for the Vandals would.”
Belveal was also surprised to discover the players on the Vandal women’s team were very supportive of the club team.
“They came out and watched games and really treated us like part of the family,” she said.
Having graduated with a BS in Veterinary Science last Spring, Belveal looks back on her experience in the women’s volleyball club as being very rewarding. Not only did she spend time as an officer, learning valuable communication skills, she also gained a new group of friends.
“We were all really close,” she said. “I’m getting married this summer and some of my volleyball friends will be there.”
Having played soccer at the NAIA level for College of Idaho, Billings knew that when he changed schools, he was no longer interested in huge time commitment. But he still wanted to play. He found the club soccer team at U of I to be perfect balance of skill and fun.
“Our team is really good,” he said. “Most players could have easily played at the college level but wanted something a little more casual.”
Billings, a senior graduate student in psychology from Boise, is the current club president and estimates he spends 7 to 10 hours a week on practice and administrative duties, such as organizing travel for away games. He has enjoyed organizing team practices, which has made him think about the possibility of coaching down the road.
Like Belveal, he has bonded with teammates, creating lasting friendships.
“All of my best friends in Moscow are from the team,” he said. “There are no cliques on the team – everyone just hangs out together and has a lot of fun.”
Cut From the Same Cloth
Riebe, a senior from Sand Hollow majoring in mechanical engineering, found out about the logger sports club by visiting their table at Palousafest during his freshman year.
“I hadn’t really done anything like that before, but I knew enough about it to know that it looked like fun,” he said.
Currently the club president, Riebe said that unlike many club sports, logger sports members do not have any dues because they don’t have to rent gym time or other practice space. They raise money for travel and other expenses through fundraisers like splitting and selling firewood.
Logger sports is less of a team sport and more about a group of individuals engaged in competitions. He said it’s not unusual to make friends on teams they compete against.
“People on other teams lend each other gear, help you set up, help you train,” he said. “You might go to professional shows together. Even though you are sometimes competing against each other, you have a shared interest in your event.”
The tight-knit friendships within his own squad are evidenced by the nicknames they gave each other, which are proudly displayed on their T-shirts. Recent examples include Boomtown, Tree Frog and Meatball.
“I started it as a way to build team cohesion and it really took off,” Riebe said. “Now everyone goes by their nickname. We’re just like a family.”
Article by David Jackson, University Communications and Marketing.
Photos by Joe Pallen, University of Idaho Creative Services; Hannah Belveal; Grant Billings; and Paul Riebe.
Published August 2022.