Captains fantastic: four York skippers talk ambition

Being a captain of any team can lead to challenges but not everyone has to contend with an academic degree along with the weekend’s team selection. Being democratically elected also has its pressures but every year the University’s finest sportsmen and women put themselves forward to lead teams, organise training sessions and talk to the media.

Their passion and leadership could be the difference between a good and a great season. There is also always the tantalising prospect of achieving something that will be remembered long after they leave the University; they could be the captain whose name becomes synonymous with a promotion and cup double or simply just a battering of their City or Roses rivals.

If they can deal with the responsibility it’s a job that can provide rich rewards and go beyond simply choosing personnel as Chris Unsworth, men’s swimming captain, details: “I really want to unify the swimming team this year. At the end of the day, swimming is an individual sport; there is only one swimmer for a team in the water at a time and in the past our team has not respected each other as competitors. It’s really important to make sure that in training and on poolside everyone supports each other as much as possible, whatever they are looking to achieve.”

It’s an ambition that Izzi Mattick, co-captain of the Women’s Lacrosse firsts, shares: “Lacrosse at York is so welcoming and friendly and on joining you quickly become involved in  all aspects of the club. Captaining the firsts therefore is a very exciting  prospect not only to have the opportunity to lead the team on the pitch but also know everyone off it.

“Having just finished a week of pre-season, at the beginning it did seem a daunting task, but even by the end of just this first week it has been good fun and we are looking forward to the rest of the season.”

The over arching ambitions may be similar but each captain has a very specific idea of what they want from the coming, and for many final, season. “I feel our performances to the end of last season improved significantly” says men’s football firsts captain Dan Turley. “We started to collect more clean sheets, and picked up some massive results, so I would like to carry on from where we left off and hit the ground running from day one; picking up maximum points, achieving promotion.”

Promotion is an aim that women’s netball captain Becky O’Dwyer also believes is well within the grasp of her side: “Obviously promotion within the BUCS league is something we always strive towards. We expect our players to be committed and dedicated throughout the season to ensure we secure key victories. We aim for all three teams to succeed at Roses and ensure that we don’t fall at the final hurdle to the Red Rose.”

It’s the small things that make the big differences, and they are the things that Captains can directly influence, as Unsworth recognises: “Last year, even though we achieved so much, a lot of races were lost by the tiniest of margins; our incredible results could have been even more outstanding if the team focused on where these margins were lost. Building strong technique and pushing yourself that little bit more is something that I want to see as a key principle in the team.”

Coaching is constantly improving and the standards and talents of each team is raised by such investment.

“We have a fantastic coach, with incredible netball experience who frequently trains us to the standard that we are,” says O’Dwyer “The club makes sure that everyone who becomes a member gains a valuable and highly enjoyable experience during their time at University.”

They all start the year with a blank slate and boundless enthusiasm. All four captains mention how much their teams mean to them socially and how important it was in the formative stages of their time in York.

Whatever results they produce is undoubted that they will pull on the black and gold each week with pride.

They are very different people but Izzi Mattick sums up the qualities that each captain brings to everything they do and what new members can look forward to when they join a club: “Enthusiasm, dedication, enjoyment.”

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