This semester, I joined Doshisha University’s Figure Skating Club. They have practices one a week from 6:30am-8:30am, but the location of practice changes with the season. From November to March, the practices are held at Kyoto Aquarena; however, from April to October, the rink is turned into a pool. Due to that reason, practices are then moved to Osaka.
I joined a sports club this semester because I wanted to meet more people my age. The club members are really dedicated, so pretty much everyone goes to practice every week. I was honestly surprised by how dedicated they are. Some people live in Osaka, so they wake up at 4 in the morning just to make it to practice on time. Another girl I met lived too far away to make in time for practice, so she sleeps over her friend’s apartment in Kyoto the night before practice. I was considering quitting the club for reasons that will be explained later, but when I saw everyone put their all in the club, I thought it would be rude of me to not do that same. Because of that, I continued with the club.
Another thing I found really interesting was the club dynamic. It was always the first years responsibility to set up the music and clean it up at the end of practice. I offered to help, but they would always politely refuse and say it was the first years’ job. The upperclassmen have other responsibilities, so setting and cleaning up got delegated to the first years. I also think it is a way to make all club members more involved aside from just having fun and skating. The senpai or the experienced members’ responsibility to teach and guide the inexperienced members. Aside from one day, I never saw a coach at practice. The captain would decide how practice would run and lead the drills. There are many experienced members (experienced as in they started skating when they were in elementary school) who would give advice to beginners and teach them new tricks. I really appreciated it when the captain came by to check up on me and helped me with the basics.
I really did enjoy the club and was even able to go watch a figure skating competition. I am actually happy that I continued to go to the club, but I did not get as close as I hoped. I was a total beginner; the only thing I could do was clumsily skate forward. Because of that, every time I practiced, I would do laps around the rink by myself just to learn the basics while the other members were running drills and practicing their programs. Perhaps if I was more skilled, I could have integrated more into their practice. Since everyone is seriously practicing, there are not many opportunities to talk to them. Of course there are some people in the club I am really comfortable with; but at the same time, there is still a disconnect. If you decide to join a sports club, I really recommend joining something you have experience in to help ease the integration.