On any tour of UMass Amherst you will hear the guide rattle off some incredibly bizarre sounding clubs that are offered on campus. The tour group will laugh, students reflect on how cool UMass must be, and then the tour will move on to a more in-depth discussion on housing availability for freshmen. However, how many UMass undergrads have actually experienced these bizarre clubs?
Reporting to you live from my senior year, I can say that I have indeed dabbled in some outlandish clubs here at UMass. Like most freshmen, I got overly excited at the Activities Expo and signed up for everything. Soon after, I was getting emails from the craziest clubs I could imagine…and I actually participated in some!
Adventure #1: UMass Quidditch
For about two months during my freshman year I went to bi-weekly practices on the huge green lawn in front of the North Apartments. Some people joined the team out of sheer love for the Harry Potter series, and some joined for the sport. The actual game is remarkably competitive and physically taxing: seven players run around while balancing a regulation-sized “broom” beneath their legs. The “broom” is more like a plastic stick, but it sure does make running and catching difficult.
During practice we would scrimmage each other and run drills like any normal athletic team. In addition to these practices, there would be occasional weekend tournaments where we would play teams from different schools.
The most interesting thing I learned about quidditch is that, during the year I played, they had to change the regulations regarding the “Golden Snitch.” In the book, the snitch is a golden ball that evades the “seekers” at all costs. In the real-life game, a person dressed in yellow runs away from the seekers on both teams. Previously, there had been no regulations for how far the snitch could run away, and the team recounted hilarious stories of the snitch driving off to get fast food then coming back. Overall, joining the quidditch team was well worth the memories.
Adventure #2: Super Smash Bros. Club
In my sophomore year two of my friends convinced me to join the Super Smash Bros. Club with them. Super Smash Bros. is a videogame where characters such as Mario and Luigi can fight one another in combat mode. My friends and I played casually in our dorm room so we thought it would be fun to join the club.
The club meets in a reserved room in the library where small, old-timey televisions are set up all around the room (something about the old televisions prevents lag while gaming). During meeting times all the students would switch off playing and learning new tactics. My favorite part was the occasional workshop they would have where an expert would teach newbies like me how to do new moves.
I didn’t last very long in this club, seeing as I was one of very few females and that I was exceptionally terrible at the actual game. However, I do have a T-shirt from joining that I still wear with pride, and I love being able to say that I gave it a shot!
Adventure #3: Surf Club
Western Massachusetts isn’t exactly the prime spot for surfing, but somehow the Surf Club still manages to have a good time! During my junior year my friend and I decided to sign up for a beginner’s surf trip to Nashua, New Hampshire. There was an indoor pool that created a constant wave that we all took turns surfing on. For a beginner, it was the most intimidating thing possible.
However, after a couple runs we all got the hang of it and could stay up on our boards for a good amount of time! In retrospect, I’m glad I learned to surf in the warm waters of an indoor pool instead of the cold ocean. It was an adventurous day and I absolutely loved all the people in the Surf Club — such a friendly and fun group of people!
While these clubs are certainly unusual, they were an absolute blast to be a part of!