Katherine Graves ~ Copy Desk Chief
Lynchburg College has a new director of club sports, Ben Smith, who hopes to strengthen the leadership skills of LC students, bring new club sports to LC and keep LC’s current club sports going strong.
LC currently has 13 club sports teams: Club Baseball, Men’s and Women’s Club Basketball, Club Field Hockey, Men’s and Women’s Club Lacrosse, Rock Climbing Club, Rugby Club, Men’s and Women’s Club Soccer, Club Softball, Ultimate Frisbee Club and Wrestling Club. Smith stated that a Swim Club, an Indoor Volleyball Club and a Beach Volleyball Club are in the works this semester.
“I think there’re a lot of students that want to stay competitive… They want to represent Lynchburg College. And this is the outlet where they don’t have to have quite the commitment that (standard) athletics requires,” said Smith.
On college campuses, there are three types of sports that students can be involved in: varsity, club and intramural. Varsity teams compete with other colleges and practice frequently. Club sports teams also compete with other colleges, but they are student-run and practice around two times a week. Intramural teams play against other intramural teams on campus.
“A lot of students want to have that semblance of structure that they may have gotten used to if they had played this sport previously without necessarily the high pressure of what the athletics teams fall under,” Smith said.
Smith expressed that students in club sports experience less pressure to win their games than varsity teams. Club sports are also an opportunity for students to try playing a new sport, which would not be possible on a varsity team. Having fewer practices also allows club sports players to have more free time to become involved in other activities and other club sports.
“If they’re practicing twice a week, that leaves a couple other days where they can be involved in other organizations on campus or take on some leadership roles that they might not be able to because of the time constraints of varsity athletics,” Smith stated.
Smith said that he enjoys the team aspect of sports that involves working “together with others to accomplish some common goal.” He believes that the teamwork learned in sports can benefit players later in their careers.
“They may not realize it as they’re starting out as a freshman and ending up as president, but a lot of the skills they’re learning on the way are going to transfer into whatever they want to do in their futures too,” Smith stated.
Smith said that he is working on potential partnerships with Liberty University, Sweet Briar College, Randolph College and Lynchburg Parks and Recreation that could benefit club sports and the community.
“Our softball team is going to be using Peaksview Park to practice and potentially play their games. Through that partnership, what the club team is going to do is put on a clinic for youth in the area for softball. So it’s an opportunity with some of these partnerships where we can be giving back to the community some,” stated Smith.
He also said that the Rugby Club is working out something similar with the city because there’s interest in starting a youth rugby league.
Smith said he is excited for the challenge of being on a new campus and working with new people.
“Getting to know the students is always something that I’ve enjoyed and, as I get to know them, then seeing how they grow,” stated Smith.
Smith is married to Abby Pyznik Smith, the Women’s Basketball coach, and the couple have an 8-month-old daughter. Smith, who is originally from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Virginia Tech. He began his leadership in sports by refereeing in intramural sports at VT during his undergraduate.
Smith worked as a graduate assistant in the intramural sports program at VT for two years. After that, he worked at the University of Virginia for one year, running their intramural sports program, then he returned to VT, where he ran their intramural sports program for 10 years until he received this job at LC.
Students can take a survey about the club sports they are interested in on the LC Club Sports website under the heading “Take Action.”
Students who want to become involved in a club sport that is already established can visit the LC Club Sports website, visit that sport’s page and contact the sport’s leadership members.
If students want to become involved in a club sport that is not fully established, they can contact Smith by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (434) 544-8287.