Westminster College does not have a women’s club soccer team despite support from students.
The men’s club soccer team is well-established, according to Westminster soccer players, but no resources are set aside for a women’s club team.
A club soccer team allows athletes who aren’t a part of an NCAA team to continue cultivating their skills and love for the sport with less pressure.
Katie Saad, a senior philosophy major and gender studies minor, played soccer throughout high school, but a blown-out knee meant she couldn’t try out for college soccer. Westminster’s indoor soccer club, which is open to all students, gave her the opportunity to stay involved in the sport but she still missed playing outside.
When Saad found that the school didn’t have a women’s outdoor club soccer team, she began a petition to start one herself.
“I can’t just complain how there’s not a team and not do anything about it,” Saad said.
The initial petition that Saad put out her junior year (2018-2019 academic year) got about 80 signatures but she was ASW Clubs president at the time. According to ASW rules, the clubs president isn’t allowed to be president of an individual club, so women’s club soccer began without ASW’s support.
Although Saad had about 15 women consistently coming to the practices, working without the help of ASW was difficult.
“It got to the point where I just didn’t have the incentives available to keep the women coming, even though they wanted to play soccer,” Saad said.
Saad’s team lacked a trained coach and funds. A coach would have taken charge of planning practices and drills, planning games and arranging transportation to and from those games while school-sanctioned funds would have made it all possible. Without those, Saad had to take on a “coaching persona” herself.
Nicole Rodriguez Cavero, a Westminster senior who was part of the startup team, said the work “was clearly too much for one person to handle and there was just no support from the school.”
Saad said that without the same resources given to the men’s club soccer team, attendance dwindled and the team “petered out.”
By the end of her junior year, Saad said the women’s club soccer team had stopped meeting and she was welcomed onto the men’s club soccer team without protest.
Keegan Whitelaw, Saad’s close friend, fellow teammate and Westminster senior said that she’s been a great addition to the team, but he understands how intimidating it might be to play with some of the physically bigger team members.
Charlotte Hobson, a first-year Westminster athlete, has followed in Saad’s footsteps and joined the team. Hobson said she’s played soccer since she was about 4 years old and plans to play for Westminster’s NCAA women’s soccer team in the near future. For now, she is using the men’s club soccer team to keep her skills up to par.
Hobson said she wouldn’t have known that joining the men’s club team was an option if Saad wasn’t already on it.
Although she said she is grateful for the opportunity to continue playing, Saad is still disappointed and frustrated that a team for her peers isn’t an option.
Saad was quick to emphasize that the men’s club team itself can’t be blamed for the issue, but Westminster’s administration can be.
“If there was the opportunity, I assure you that there would be interest,” Saad said. “In not providing that opportunity, [Westminster is] killing the interest before it has the chance to grow.”