As plebes (freshman) begin their first academic semester after enduring the trials of Cadet Basic Training, they are given the option to explore 137 clubs the U.S. Military Academy has to offer. Each club has its own unique quality that allows it to stand out amongst the others. Whether a cadet wishes to explore the ancient, but never aging game of chess, join the boxing team, or delve into Women’s Team Handball, cadets were given the opportunity to discover what appealed to them the most during the annual Club Night event Aug 16-17 at Eisenhower Hall.
“Typically and historically, it is a one night event. Within the last two years, we had to get creative. Last year, we had COVID-19 and in 2019 there was construction in Eisenhower Hall. We have 137 clubs at West Point and we couldn’t, during 2019, fit everyone under one roof,” Jamie Wissner, the extracurricular program manager at the Directorate of Cadet Activities, said. “We’re pleased this year to get everyone under the same roof again exploring what the clubs have to offer.”
Wissner explained preparation for Club Night begins with organizing Eisenhower Hall and making sure there is enough tables accessible for the club leaders to set up their presentations.
Furthermore, DCA makes sure the club leaders receive a schedule of the event so they can promptly prepare their table to display their clubs, Wissner said.
DCA also ensures that the S3, or Command Operations Staff, and U.S. Corps of Cadets have the information to distribute to the cadets who wish to join clubs, so that they can attend the event.
For Wissner, this is a great opportunity to showcase what the clubs offer to plebes or any upperclassman who might be interested in trying something new.
Each of the clubs are divided into seven categories with a sponsoring agency over each category. The clubs range from military, academic, support, hobby, religious and diversity clubs, Wissner added.
“Clubs with competitive teams are always a draw and as far as contests goes, the parachute team is extremely competitive,” Wissner said. “The parachute team is always a big draw for new cadets. Also, Esports is one of our latest clubs that focus on competition and is typically associated with multiplayer video game competitions where players can compete individually or as a team.”
While the cadets enjoy the variety of old and new clubs this year, Wissner said she was simply relieved to finally have some normalcy return to the Club Night planning process.
Preparing for this year’s Club Night was a refreshing experience for Wissner compared to the challenging two years that preceded the event.
Planning during 2019 presented challenges, but it was an easier process compared to 2020. In 2019, there was a lack of space due to construction, so DCA had to divide the clubs into two nights, however, both nights were a really great turnout, Wissner added.
“It was obviously much easier to have all the clubs under one roof again compared to last year when we had to break it down per regiment at specific times that specific regiments could be in the building. Last year, the Class of 2024 was the only class that was allowed to partake in Club Night, so no upperclassmen could come due to COVID-19 and the mitigation processes we had to put in place,” Wissner said. “Compared to last year, planning 2021 Club Night was much easier. Again, it was nice to have all the clubs under one roof and have the great turnout that we did.”
With that, Wissner said she feels a great sense of pride contributing to the success of the cadets and believes each distinct club develops qualities of leadership, diverse thinking and a healthy dose of self-awareness.
Additionally, each club has underlying qualities that help in cultivating leaders of character.
“It’s a rewarding experience to see cadets go out there and do great things. The cadets are representing the academy, they’re representing the Army, and they’re out there on the national and global stage representing the legacy of West Point doing something that they love,” Wissner said. “You look at the jump team with their parachutes and their beautifully branded uniforms and you know you played a role in that, even down to the academic clubs with the mock trial team who competed in a mock trial advocacy, presented a simulated case to a panel of judges, and defeated Navy.
“All of the clubs have something dynamic and thought-provoking to offer and it’s very humbling to know that I had a hand in contributing to the leadership development at West Point,” Wissner concluded.