University would not be the same without sport

Image: Ben Wright and YUSU

My first year at York has had many dimensions and highlights, but none more so than the impact of sport. While the main reason for going to university is academic, I have enjoyed participating in sport here at York as much as my course. It’s hard to escape sport, which is good because it means that there are more opportunities than anyone can possibly have time for. I remember being able to choose from over 60 different sports at freshers’ fair. I was surprised that anyone would have been able to decide between the more obscure octopush (this is a cool one, Google it) to classics like rugby; from individual sports like archery to team-based ones such as lacrosse.

Whatever tickles your fancy, it is probably available at York; and it is most definitely available for all levels of ability and experience. Even if there was a club you desperately wanted to be a part of, and it isn’t available here you can create it! The VX club at University of York was only started around three years ago, and they’re doing pretty well for themselves.

Inevitably, temptation signed me up for way too many sports at freshers’ fair, and I still receive emails from clubs I haven’t attended yet. In my initial few weeks at university, I packed out my schedule with sport tasters and trials (don’t be put off by the word trials. It may sound serious, but a lot of sport, particularly at collegiate level, is casual and all-welcoming) to find a few sports that I would want to commit to in the long-term. In hindsight, that makes me sound organised, but the first few weeks of first term were certainly a mash of drinking and turning up to lectures and sport sessions hungover. In fact, most of first year was like that. I went to a pool taster session and I’ve never looked back.

I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get good at pool (thinking of all the beer money I could win). From being a beginner with knowledge not far beyond knowing how to hold a cue, I found myself travelling to Durham to play pool in a varsity tournament. It is sporting events such as this that make sport rewarding and bring the community together as crowds of students turn up to create a vibrant atmosphere. And, of course, the pinnacle that is Roses – the annual event which everyone works hard throughout the year to prepare for, and which pits Lancaster against York in the biggest inter-university sports tournament in Europe. Even if you’re not participating, it is a great event to go and watch.

If you are an incoming student reading this, or a current undergraduate not part of a sports club, I strongly encourage you, without wanting to sound like an old Sainsbury’s slogan, to try something new. Get involved with sport here at York (incidentally, this is probably a good opportunity to advertise that James College Pool needs another female player!). As well as giving me an excuse to go to Salvos on a Wednesday, sport has certainly helped me to settle into university life, try new things, meet new people, release stress, and just generally enjoy my time at university more. Sports clubs are a really great way to meet new people.

By turning up to a sports session, you instantly have at least one thing in common with everyone there. I met some of my closest friends through sport, because we kept turning up to the same sports sessions. If you don’t want to commit to membership of a club, weekly pay-as- you-go open sessions are a great way to experience the benefits of sport without being tied to membership. You can turn up as and when you like. I do think that you haven’t truly been to university until you’ve experienced what its sporting opportunities have to offer. The changes initiated by York Sport President Isaac Beevor will only improve sport, particularly at collegiate level, in the future. So York Sport, I look forward to what you have to bring next year.

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