Sport Editor Jack Wooldridge previews UB Sport’s Club of the Year award and finds out what makes UoB Lacrosse, Squash, and Triathlon so special
Three university sports clubs are in contention to win ‘Club of the Year’ at the UB Sports Awards on Friday. After a memorable season in their respective sports, Lacrosse, Squash and Triathlon have all been nominated for the prize.
— University of Birmingham Sport (@UBSport) May 22, 2020
This award is based on the club’s success across all areas, ranging from their performance in competitions and organising important events to their work outside the sport, such as their socials and fundraising efforts.
It is no surprise that the Lacrosse club finds itself nominated for this award. The men’s firsts and women’s fourths won their leagues, whilst the women’s thirds were in with a chance of the league title before the season was terminated prematurely. The women’s firsts reached the quarter-final of their competition, whilst the women’s seconds, who were promoted last season, were on track to finish in second place in their new division.
Lacrosse have had six women’s internationals play for them this year, including England’s Millie Home and Wales’ Lauren Hirst. Two men’s firsts players, Cam Barrett and Silas Burke, were selected for English Universities.
Additional highlights of their season were the two matches which featured as England Lacrosse’s ‘Match of the Week,’ and UpRoar, which formed part of the BUCS Super Series. The club also received a grant from the Lacrosse Foundation, which funded new equipment for the mixed and development teams.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, Lacrosse launched a fundraiser with the goal of running, walking or cycling the distance from Birmingham to Birmingham, Alabama, where the World Lacrosse Games were due to be held this Summer. Taking 23 days to travel the full 6,801km distance, a staggering £1,106 was raised for NHS Charities Together.
On being nominated for the award, Club President Lucy Pirkle told Redbrick, ‘I am incredibly proud regardless of whether or not we win. Looking back at all we have achieved this season and how many of our goals set out at the club conference have become a reality, it seems all our hard work has paid off.’
The second nominated club, Squash, has excelled in both the men’s and women’s BUCS competitions, whilst also supporting the University’s Premier Squash League (PSL) team and promoting a strong social community amongst its members.
The men’s first and second teams both progressed to the semi-final of the Championship, narrowly losing 3-2 away to Nottingham and Roehampton respectively.
Meanwhile, the women’s firsts advanced to the final with an emphatic 4-1 victory over Manchester. Unfortunately, the final against Edinburgh was unable to be played due to COVID-19. Kiera Marshall starred on their journey to the final, and also picked up a silver medal at the BUCS Individual Championships.
The Squash club ran a World Squash Day event, introducing eight children from the local community to the sport. In addition to hosting many PSL fixtures, the BUCS Premier Squash Stage Two weekend took place at the university in February.
During lockdown, the team linked up with the three other clubs to raise money for domestic violence charity Refuge. By covering the distance from Birmingham to Tokyo through various forms of exercise, the clubs collectively raised £930.
Club President Sam Scivier said, ‘I am so proud. It has been an immense team effort from our committee, volunteers, coaches, and club members.’
The third and final nominated club, Triathlon, have also enjoyed BUCS success. Featuring impressive performances from Hannah Hobbs and Jack Shayler, the women’s team finished in fifth and the men’s team in seventh in the duathlon. Only a small team of triathletes participated in the biathlon, but those that were involved still managed to achieve new personal bests.
The club also organised the ‘Aquathlon Championships’, a swimming and running event, in March with 140 entries from students at Birmingham and other universities. Generating a healthy profit for the club, the competition also gave beginners the opportunity to compete in a less pressurised environment.
Diversifying their training, the team began track sessions at Halesowen’s outdoor velodrome, allowing members to refine their cycling skills. They also welcomed back alumni, such as Chris Silver, to deliver talks on conditioning and nutrition. With a grant from the alumni students’ impact fund, five members were sent on a leadership and fitness course, giving students the qualifications to lead sessions.
Aside from these sporting developments, Triathlon became one of the few clubs to have a committee member solely dedicated to welfare, providing critical support to their members.
One way that Triathlon has recently engaged their members was to set up an initiative with other universities. Named ‘The Trisolation Challenge’, athletes participated in a number of triathlon-related activities over a few days. In total, 250 people took part and over £3000 was raised for various charities.
On the nomination, President Dan Shepherd said, ‘This is something we really wanted to push for and to get some recognition. All the committee have pulled their weight and we have really catered for our club across the board.’
It is incredibly difficult to predict a winner out of the three; they all deserve to be recognised and have an equal chance of winning after strong performances, events, and fundraisers.
To find out who wins ‘Club of the Year’, tune into the UB Sport YouTube channel this Friday at 7:30 pm.
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