Between juggling academics, jobs, and all the fun of college life in between, being a student-athlete isn’t for everyone. That doesn’t mean, however, that sports lovers want to give up time on the field entirely. 

That’s the magic of Club Sports at UNM. Hosted under the multi-faceted UNM Recreational Services, Club Sports offers competitive or recreational options for students who want to continue in or try athletics. 

“Whenever I can stop by practices, I will, because I like to see everyone in action. It reminds me why I keep coming back to Club Sports and Recreation, especially at the collegiate level. I think it's very rewarding to do all the behind-the-scenes work and help ensure these programs stay alive and garner recognition for the university,” Club Sports Project Assistant Jessica Bennett said. 

lobo hockey lifts sticks in the air on the ice
Lobo Hockey

Bennett also serves as Sport and Recreational Club Council President, and as someone who grew up in and around sports, knows how important they are, and continue to be, to students. 

“I grew up ice skating and my sister plays hockey, so my family and I love ice sports and hockey. I greatly enjoy the internal affairs aspect of all Club Sports, and making sure they're all getting what they need to run well and be the best teams and programs that they can be,” she said.  

Bennett and Club Sports Coordinator Specialist Victoria Crawford-Perez oversee over a dozen different Club Sports. Crawford-Perez, as an athlete herself, also understands the importance sports offer the world. 

"Club sports aren't just about competition; they're about fostering a sense of belonging and community, pushing boundaries, and creating memories that define our collegiate experience,” Crawford-Perez said. Sports aren't just about the game; they're about the bonds we create, about discovering our inner strength and overcoming obstacles. Sports aren't just moments on a field; they're chapters in the story of our lives, shaping us into the individuals we are proud to become."  

Here is a list of club sports that have been chartered at UNM:   

Bengal United Sports Club (Cricket, Kabaddi) 

‘Burque Volleyball Club 

Men’s and Women’s Club Soccer 

Club Softball 

Lobo Rugby (Men’s and Women’s) 

Co-Ed Running Club 

JIM Club 

Lobos Swim Club 

Men’s Club Lacrosse 

Mountaineering Club 

Club Table Tennis 

Club Tennis 

Lobo Hockey 

UNM Esports 

Women’s Ultimate Frisbee 

 

UNM Recreational Services estimate 1,100 different students are a part of Club Sports in some capacity. Although this depends on the time of year and overall interest in the department, at least 500 Lobos are a part of Club Sports at any given time. 

climbers scale wall on hike
UNM Mountaineering Club

“We pride ourselves on making sure we have as many different programs and teams available to students as possible. With at least one to two teams currently in the chartering process, that's a lot of teams. It's also a lot of different national governing bodies and things we need to consider, but we love working with all the Club Sport teams,” Bennett said.  

Some of these even include student-athletes who want to stay active or continue to practice their sport during the off-season.  

“Our Club Sport student-athletes are some of the coolest people I've met so far at UNM. They're all very dedicated and excited about their programs. They all want to grow it and are committed and passionate about their sport,” Bennett said.   

While Table Tennis takes the top spot as the most in-demand recreational Club Sport, some of the most popular competitive sports include Soccer, Lacrosse, Rugby, and Hockey.  

“We're trying to put UNM Club Sports on the map in the world of collegiate recreation. I think we have the people to do it and the right infrastructure, so it's really just getting the exposure and making sure we can continue to kind of bolster the program as much as possible. 

In fact, Lobo Hockey is exceptional, having qualified for the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) National Tournament both in 2018 and 2022.  

“Our hockey team is at a very competitive level even though they’re non-NCAA. Their association has three divisions and they’re currently DIII but are hoping to advance to DII within the next academic year. Most people don't know that, and they travel frequently to represent the university and play a ton of different tournaments. They have qualified for nationals repeatedly and are on the hunt for something bigger,” Bennett said. 

You may be surprised to not see certain sports available, like football, basketball, or pickleball. That doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Bennett encourages anyone who wants to see their favorite sport in action to reach out about forming a CSO, or chartered student organization. For example, Volleyball, Lobo Mixed Material Arts, and Wrestling are currently in the works. 

“That's why we try to cater to as many students as possible and make sure they know if there's not a team now, they can charter and create one, since it’s a relatively simple process. We're always looking to expand. If students have an interest in a team that we don't have, anything’s possible. We don't currently have pickleball, but we're sure we will at some point,” Bennett said.  

That’s also part of the joy of the department’s Club Sports Day event. Hosted once a semester, (this time March 28, from 5 to 9 pm) Recreational Services puts all Club Sports on display. Across Johnson Field and within the gyms, students can test out the different sports, or explore opportunities that might not yet be available. 

“It's an opportunity for current Club Sport programs to showcase their sport. It's designed for students who aren't currently involved in Club Sports to try as much as they want,” Bennett said. “I think it's a unique event because it's twofold in that it's recruiting and good visibility for the program, but also has a lot of potential to pull people in who may be simply wandering around on a Thursday night.” 

swimmer does the butterfly stroke in pool
UNM Swim Club

Students are the core of what makes Club Sports work. They work on recruitment, scheduling games, practices, and events, and, of course, competing.  

“Club sports is purely student-run. Students charter the organizations. Students run all aspects of internal affairs. They are the people who love the sports they play, come to college, and want to find a way to continue to train and compete competitively. That's what sets Club Sports apart, and what we're trying to do,” Bennett said.  

Club sports are undeniably chockfull of benefits. On an individual level, club sports have been shown to improve students’ confidence, mental health, and emotional well-being. On a social level, they are proven to create and improve relationships and overall team and university autonomy.   

“From the thrill of victory to the lessons learned in defeat, Club Sports unite us in a shared passion, leaving an indelible mark on our college years and beyond. The memories we make by playing sports will truly last a lifetime,” Crawford-Perez said.   

This does not even begin to touch on the fact that physical activity in a sports-based environment improves overall health and academic success.  

“I think the benefits of becoming involved in Club Sports are plenty, and I wish more people knew about them,” Bennett said. “I've had a lot of people tell me that being involved in a Club Sport specifically has done a lot for their mental health. It’s helped them stay calm, happy, and healthy in pursuing their studies, being a Club Sport athlete, and whatever else they have going on in their lives. I'd say it's a good way to make sure they're continuing to meet their health goals, while also being involved in the campus community.” 

Other than the opportunity to make friends, get involved in the UNM community, and, like Bennett, gain professional managing experience, UNM Club Sports are already included in your wallet. Club Sports are partially paid for by student fees, as well as student government entities such as ASUNM and the Student Fee Review Board, (SFRB.) Recreational Services primarily funds competitive teams, and ASUNM recreational groups.  

“We might not be at the NCAA level, but you can join the kids who come to college and compete at a competitive level. They never cease to amaze me in terms of how committed they are, given how much they're all doing,” Bennett said.  

Before committing to a team, it’s also just fine to stop by a practice and learn more. With a constant influx of players, sports options, and events, there really is something for every Lobo. 

“Sports are some of the world's greatest unifiers. You don't have to know the same language or have the same perspectives or cultural traditions to enjoy and become involved in sports. Definitely, I think that's our ultimate vision,” Bennett said.