So you’ve dragged yourself through the drunken debauchery of Fresher’s Week. You’ve deciphered the meaning behind ‘exotic’ words like Ziggy’s, Tru and Efes. Now you emerge from your unpacked pile of belongings at two in the afternoon in another sambuca-induced daze with an irrational yearning to rediscover sunlight, fresh air and exercise to repent for those twenty-two consecutive takeaway dinners. Anyone for sport?
Fret not; the University of York has you covered. Under the stewardship of York Sport, campus is home to in excess of 50 sports clubs, many well-established and all enthusiastically run, and literally hundreds of teams to cater amply for all talents and abilities. Remember, they are always looking for first years to boost teams and numbers, even if you’ve never wielded a hockey stick, Frisbee or polo pony before.
Head honcho of York Sport is Emily Scott, connoisseuse of every sport going, who was elected by a landslide in the annual elections. The darling of campus sport is ably assisted by a dedicated committee, charged with ensuing York’s army of athletes are always in the right place at the right time.
Casting your eye over the multitude of stalls in the Sports Hall at Fresher’s Fair (Saturday week one) will allow an appreciation of the scale and variety of opportunities here, from the conventional team sports to the downright quirky. Simply sign up to anything that tickles your interest and find out times of trials and training sessions. It’s the perfect opportunity to try that activity you’ve never got round to.
University teams typically compete in leagues and tournaments organised by British Universities and College Sport (BUCS) against opponents from all over the country, so the chance to satisfy that thirst for competition and silverware is never far away.
York have just enjoyed their most successful season ever in inter-university competitions, with notable achievers being the men’s rugby and badminton firsts, who earned promotion, and the women’s squash team, who won the inaugural BUCS Cup tournament. The result was a highest-ever finish in the overall national university sports standings of 41st, a rise of six places on the previous year. While the situation is improving, York does remain in the shadow of heavily-funded sports teams at neighbouring institutions such as Sheffield Hallam and Leeds Met.
The annual York Sport Dinner, held on campus late in the summer term, honours those who have excelled for their clubs in a night of frivolity. Colours are awarded to those who represent a university first team for at least two-thirds of their academic career at York, not to mention a host of other awards for outstanding achievements during the year.
The thriving College Sport scene (football, cricket, rugby and many others) allows another dimension of competition and always proves very popular, presenting an excellent chance to settle inter-college grudges. The entertainment culminates every summer with the College Cup football tournament, which draws huge levels of interest and big crowds to the Astroturf. Newly-installed College Sport guru Paul Guest, who helped organise the successful return of college rugby last autumn, hopes to further increase enthusiasm for and participation in these events.
In addition, York participates in two annual tournaments: Roses is the country’s biggest university sports competition and is played in May against Lancaster University – an epic weekend of fierce match-ups played in a festival atmosphere. In 2009, York annihilated their opponents 194.5-79.5, wrapping up victory on the Saturday afternoon and outclassing Lancaster in many of the 50-odd sports played. This was York’s third consecutive triumph and the principal ambition of Emily Scott will be to make this four-in-a-row in Lancaster next year.
This year’s Tournament Secretaries, Rory McGregor and Isobelle Miller, have pledged to restore the annual Varsity competition with local rivals York St. John to the sports calendar. The event, traditionally won by York University, was cancelled this year because of a pile-up of uncompleted BUCS League matches caused by persistent inclement weather.
The one constant between all sports clubs, however, whether it be netball, mountaineering, octopush or capoeira, is a thriving social scene. Training and matches are complimented by regular excursions to York’s pubs and clubs, usually with some imaginative theme of dress and inevitable hilarity. On Wednesday evenings, Ziggy’s becomes the Mecca for many sports teams, a sweaty team-bonding paradise.
Naturally, the clubs scramble to utilise the sports facilities here at York, but most of these are accessible to all for more casual sport, albeit through the 2009/2010 Sports Membership package, which is priced at £40. This permits use of the recently-expanded fitness suite (£11 per month during off-peak hours, £15 anytime), sports hall (£15 per hour), squash courts (£4 each for 40 minutes) and the JLD Astroturf (£30 per hour). Behind the sports centre lies the 22 Acres: a patchwork of grass pitches incorporating football, rugby, cricket and lacrosse which are reliably abuzz with activity on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.
Nouse offers the most comprehensive coverage of campus sports, both through our print editions released three times each term and regular news updates and match reports on our website. Each week, the York Sport Show, produced by Nouse and YSTV, features highlights of Wednesday’s key fixtures, as well as expert analysis and reaction.
The sheer range of sports clubs at York University should prove satisfactory to all tastes and anyone is always welcome to establish new ones. Go ahead, get involved!
(Top photo: Alexandru Hristea, others: George Lowther)