Men’s Soccer Club plays this fall (Kalli Dal­rymple | Collegian)

The Hillsdale College Men’s Soccer Club isn’t letting a can­celed season ruin the 10th anniversary of the club’s re-for­mation, as it con­tinues with regular prac­tices and intrasquad scrim­mages this fall. 

The club is working to further its mission of encour­aging a soccer atmos­phere at Hillsdale and laying the groundwork to bring varsity soccer back to the college.

Hillsdale had a soccer team that turned varsity in 1998, but due to financial reasons, it was ter­mi­nated in January of 2003 along with three other varsity sports. After this, a handful of former soccer players started a club team. Ini­tially, the club team had a lot of support from soccer fans on campus, many of whom would travel with the team to away games.

The club team phased out within that decade, but it was offi­cially restarted in 2010 with the explicit purpose of even­tually bringing a varsity team back to campus.

According to the club’s vice pres­ident junior Matt McGrory, that goal had been for­gotten when he arrived on campus in 2018. Since then, he and other members of the team have worked to revive the original mission and make the team a place for men to play soccer competitively.

In pur­suing this goal, the club team moved into the Central Division of the Midwest Alliance Soccer Con­ference this year. Due to COVID-19 restric­tions, however, the MASC had to postpone its 2020 season until the spring.

Cur­rently, the team con­ducts official team prac­tices once a week, 5v5 tour­na­ments on Fridays, open pickup games on Sunday evenings, and has even started hosting 11v11 intrasquad scrim­mages once every other weekend.

“We wanted to make sure the guys are having at least one day of formal practice with the team in a com­pet­itive training nature,” McGrory said. “Then we have oppor­tu­nities at the end of the week to drive com­pe­tition within the guys on the team — to use an ‘iron sharpens iron’ philosophy.”

To increase intrasquad com­pe­tition, the guys put money into a pool for the winners of the 5v5 tournaments.

The 11v11 scrim­mages have even become a way for the campus to come together. So far, the team has hosted two scrim­mages and both outdoor occa­sions have attracted groups of more than 100 stu­dents — which is more than the number of stu­dents that used to attend the team’s normal season games.

“The idea was to allow us to play com­pet­i­tively while also letting people come watch sports, because people miss that,” junior Aidan Cyrus said. “It’s a com­munal event where you get to go heckle and cheer people on, and enjoy watching your friends compete.”

McGrory said the large turnout at the intrasquad scrim­mages has encouraged his team­mates, giving them a glimpse of what a soccer atmos­phere on campus could be like.

While the team takes the game seri­ously and is eager to improve the quality of the sport on campus, team members have also said it’s been a good way for them to make friends on campus.

“I don’t think I would know these guys if not for club soccer,” Cyrus said. “It’s given me a lot of joy. Espe­cially the first year when I really didn’t know anybody, it was a great com­munity to be a part of.”

Junior Ryan Perkins said the team main­tains a good balance of having fun together and staying competitive.

“We love playing together, and we spend a lot of time together outside of prac­tices and games too, but we try to keep it as com­pet­itive as pos­sible,” Perkins said. 

Perkins added that the program also keeps stu­dents from getting stuck inside the “aca­demic bubble.”

“It’s really easy to just go from your dorm, to Lane Hall, to the cafe­teria, to Lane, and then back to the dorm — kind of staying in that aca­demic cycle,” Perkins said. “But club sports allow you to get outside, build friend­ships, and stay active.”