For many people at University, getting involved with a sports club may seem daunting to say the least. For anyone who might want to throw themselves into university sports but is being held back by nerves, Catherine Entwistle recounts her own experience of overcoming those initial anxieties to make the most of her university experience.
The familial camaraderie of a seven-year-long stint on the school hockey team was over. No sooner had I been picked for the team aged twelve, I was waving goodbye to those golden years and moving up to the next rung on the educational ladder. Come university, with its innumerable anxieties, joining a sports team was the last thing on my mind. In fact, I was actively avoiding even considering joining one, let alone going to any trials, for the fear of not being good enough. I had set myself up to fail before I had even tried. My confidence in playing hockey at school and my love for the sport had vanished and I was awash with intimidation at the thought of cliquey groups and elite teams. I know I’m not alone in thinking this, but this assumption could not have been more inaccurate!
First year went by and I had dabbled in a bit of intra-mural netball, the occasional spin class and the rare light jog whilst running late for a lecture. But the niggle of not being on a competitive team was always at the back of my mind, and I found myself watching friends’ sports matches with great envy. This, however, still failed to push me into joining a team, even though at this point the withdrawal symptoms were kicking in.
Fast-forward to the first week of second year and my housemate (women’s lacrosse second team captain) was feeling rather stressed, having not secured a goalie for her team. Turning to me at the dinner table, light bulb almost visible above her head, she asks if I’ll do it. With my only exposure to lacrosse being the match in Wild Child (which, I have since learned, is a fairly poor display of the sport), the conversation went back and forth for a while with quite a bit of “umming” and “ahhing” from me, but I eventually said yes to her offer of a no-pressure training session to see if I fancied it – after all, time and time again I had been reminded that university was the place to try new things (if nothing else, the lure of university sports kit was enough). In a mad turn of events, I agreed to be the goalie and the rest is history as they say!
Flooded with nerves on the day of my first match, I was regretting my decision. But after a few weeks of getting to know the rest of the team and becoming more familiar with the rules of lacrosse (and how to catch the ball – a fairly vital aspect to being a goalie), I began to really enjoy myself. The rest of the team were so supportive despite the fact that I was new to the sport and I felt included straight away – no cliques in sight. The lacrosse season now over, I look back at the year of training sessions, matches and socials and I am forever grateful that I said yes to this opportunity to try something new. It has genuinely transformed my university experience in more ways I could have imagined when I first signed up, and I would implore anyone and everyone to get involved in some capacity. I am looking forward to the next lacrosse season…