Peer adviser emphasizes participation

In leagues where fun and relaxation are emphasized over competition, it is participation that is important.


In leagues where fun and relaxation are emphasized over competition, it is participation that is important.


The health of the recreational clubs at Portland State is dependent upon a vital and diverse collection of sports and other leisure activities. While the majority of clubs are formed along more traditional lines, for activities like rugby or lacrosse, other organizations like Medieval Combat and Random Select—the campus video game club—prove that if there is interest, they can thrive.


The Rec Center, located in the Smith Memorial Student Union, room 47, is where new clubs are born. Eddie Barnhart, peer advisor to both current and prospective club leaders explains that to form a club, the organization first must fit into a loose definition.


“We’re recreational. So what we’ve defined that as is sports, games and physical activities. So there’s a lot of range of more recreational and fun stuff,” Barnhart said.


The next steps, which can be found on the Rec Clubs Web site at, include the drafting of a constitution, completion of an online application, scheduling a meeting between three leaders from the new group and Rec Clubs Advisor and Coordinator Sami Faile and a short training session to learn the basics of group operations.


Though the process may look intimidating, the effort is certainly worth it. The men’s Lacrosse Club, for example, has taken their club to near-elite status. Created just three years ago, the Lacrosse Club “competes in a league and are competing on almost the highest level of competition for lacrosse … almost like a varsity sports program,” Barnhart says.


Even if the Lacrosse Club is the exception rather than the norm, it certainly holds a standard for yet-to-be-formed clubs to attain. One of Barnhart’s goals for the Rec Center this year is to encourage the formation of more women’s athletic clubs. He says interest in women’s athletic clubs, specifically soccer, has been high but few clubs have formed so far.


“We tried to get some girls rallied to start a club but, because they’re student-run, we need to have at least three members who are going to take the reins. But that’s something that hasn’t happened yet,” he said.

Certainly then, the potential for a women’s club—be it soccer or a women’s alternative to an already established male club—is strong.


However, if leadership and organization are not a part of an individual’s pedigree, joining a club is certainly an easier process. Though some sports, such as the more traditional and competitive clubs like men’s soccer and lacrosse require tryouts or enrollment prior to league-play, most clubs are open to members at any point of the year.


“To join a club, the best thing to do is to come to a practice and meet the coordinators. Our Party in the Park event is great because pretty much all the clubs there will be signing up new members,” Barnhart said. 

The rest of the process is mere busy work, as outlined by the Rec Club’s Web site. To join, students simply fill out a code of conduct form and a liability form.


For Barnhart, some of his most important moments at Portland State have come through participation with the clubs. “It’s kept me involved at this school. It’s a great way—especially at a school like PSU, where a lot of people come to class and just go, and you don’t have a chance to meet many people—to meet some friends,” he said.


If creating or joining a club is still too intimidating, Barnhart says, simple participation and attendance at club events are still important to the vitality of the clubs.


“We love it when people come,” Barnhart said. “It’s just as good as the sports programs [when] our lacrosse and rugby clubs play. It’s almost, I think, cooler because you don’t get to see rugby often.”


“Come check it out if you can. Participate,” he said.