The first ever pre-season training camp at the University of York proved to be a huge success last week.
Originally expecting around 100 participants, there were ultimately over 200 student athletes taking part in a week of classes and talks designed to improve fitness ahead of the new BUCS season.
Activities such as zumba, kickboxing and spin classes provided clubs with the opportunity to work together with new and returning members, as well as utilising the new facilities at the York Sport Village on the Heslington East campus that opened in August.
These activities were also interspersed with specific sessions for each club, allowing them to work on their own tactics and skills programmes and compete in pre-season matches.
Charlotte Winter, York Sport President, commented, “I’m so happy with how pre-season has gone.
“All the clubs and athletes have really got involved with everything; from the fitness sessions to the talks which have been put on.”
One of the centrepieces of the week was the campaign to get York into the top 40 of the BUCS rankings.
York finished 43rd last year, which is roughly the same position as they have secured every year in recent history, but they have not finished inside the top 40 since 2006.
Often cited as a reason why York’s teams sometimes struggle early on in the season, is that the late start to the Autumn term compared to other universities leaves clubs with little time to prepare and integrate new faces into their side before the start of the BUCS season.
Whereas most universities start in late September and have three or four weeks of preparation before the start of competitive action, York sides are often left with little over a week to prepare for the first round of BUCS fixtures in mid-October.
The hope is that the pre-season camp will have provided clubs with the head start they are often missing going into the season.
Winter added, “I think the camp has been great at not only helping our athletes skills and fitness improve but it feels like everyone is really approaching this season determined to get York into the top 40 of the BUCS league.”
Highlights of the week included a session for the Netball Club with Tracey Neville, former England international, on Tuesday, and two talks on Thursday night.
Malcolm Brown, coach of Olympic triathlon medallists Johnny and Alastair Brownlee gave a talk on the value of good coaching, and Ali Rose, physio to Jessica Ennis, Olympic heptathlon champion, talked to students about injury prevention and management, as well as synergies between elite and university-level sport.
The University Boat Club also enjoyed a fruitful week, despite being confined to land training because of the high river levels on the Ouse, as they worked with Ray Ward, one of the club’s founding members.
“Working with Ray Ward this week has been great,” said Ed Scobie, Boat Club President.
“After his huge input to the Men’s squad last year, it is great to have him back working with both the Men’s and Women’s squads.
“Unfortunately, due to the recent flooding the river level is still too high for us to get out on the water, so we have been limited to land training.
“However, Ray’s expertise and knowledge has meant we have been spending our time constructively.”