By Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Triathlon Team Member, Dillon Hollinger
Whether you are a parent, freshman or current college-student, you have most likely heard that college clubs are an important part of the college experience. Clubs are a great way to make friends, explore interests and have a good time in general. One of the downfalls, though, is the seemingly endless amount of clubs that schools offer. With everything from Greek life to fencing club, it's easy to get lost on club-fair days. With that in mind, be sure to check out your school's triathlon club. With over 125 clubs nationwide (for a list follow the link here), chances are the school you or your daughter, son, friend etc. go to has a club.
1. It's an NCAA emerging sport (for women).
That's right ladies, you now can get a scholarship for being a triathlete! For now, there aren't many schools offering these scholarships, but in the next few years this is sure to change. What's the difference between an NCAA emerging sport and a traditional NCAA sport you may ask? An emerging sport is one that may not currently have enough money and/or schools to be a division I/II/III sport, but is growing fast enough to receive grants to help the sport grow. Once enough schools have division I/II/III teams (40 division I/II or 28 division III) within 10 years, the sport can achieve a NCAA Championship Sport status. Simply put, emerging sports have most of the perks of championship sports, there just aren't enough teams yet.
And yes, sorry guys the NCAA aspect is only for girls (for now at least). Because women's sports historically have a lower participation rate than male-only or co-ed sports, the emerging sport for women process was created to make it easier for women's sports to become NCAA in hopes that participation would increase.
2. It's a bit like Greek life, but with (a little) less partying and (a lot) more exercising.
Being a part of a team often leads to some of the best friends you'll ever make. The people you train with day in and day out not only enjoy the same hobby, but often have similar lifestyles. This dynamic creates a bond that's much like a Greek brother/sister, but rather than just bonding in social settings, you're also spending time during practices, training camps and other fun activities. Also, many triathletes (collegiate and age-group alike) enjoy a work hard, play hard lifestyle, so there's always the option of some "play time." Whether it's a party after a race, grabbing a beer after a long bike ride or anything in between, you'll have the option to participate or not. One of the great things about a collegiate triathlon team is that there's just as many people who enjoy this play time as there is who do not, so it's up to you if you would like to participate.
3. Avoid the Freshman Fifteen.
Unfortunately the freshman fifteen is a very real occurrence with many college students. Too much dorm food and not enough exercise is a scary combination, even for the fastest metabolisms. With a little effort though, the infamous freshman fifteen can be avoided, and what better way to do it than joining triathlon club! Almost all schools offer free gym access to their students, but many students choose not to go--often because they're forced to workout by themselves. When joining a team though, friends will be there to help make the workouts more enjoyable and keep each other accountable for showing up.
4. It'll help with stress and grades.
Many studies over the years have proven exercise is great for stress relief. Workouts provide an escape from day-to-day activities such as work and school, and help to reduce the burden of stress. New studies also show that aerobic exercise can greatly increase test scores and grades. Taking a break from studying and heading out for a swim, bike or run gives the mind a break allowing it to recharge and take in more information later. It also gets more blood flowing to your brain, making you more awake and alert.
5. You are guaranteed to have fun.
Another great aspect of joining a club triathlon team is that you can put as much, or as little into it as you'd like. If training 15 hours a week, getting the hottest race bike and traveling to races is the experience you are looking for, then great. If you want to train whenever you feel motivated, maybe want to do a race or two and don't mind riding your grandpa's 70's Schwinn, a triathlon club team is also a great fit for you. With triathlon, you can do as much or as little as you like and still have a great experience.