A beginner’s guide to college sports

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As a student of Lancaster University there is a world of sports at your feet. The collegiate system gives students opportunities that are few and far between at other institutions. As you are probably aware, our university houses nine colleges — each distinct in style and personality, but all have histories to be proud of. If you want to be part of this history, taking part in college sports is one of the best ways to start.

Each college elects a Junior Common Room Executive, commonly referred to as a JCR. On this JCR sits two college Sports Reps — arguably the most fun and enjoyable position on the JCR. Keep an eye out for them hanging around your college in Freshers’ Week or at the Freshers’ Fair – they will be armed with answers to any question you might have regarding sports you would like to get involved in. In addition to the JCR Sports Reps, there is also the LUSU Vice-President for Sports, Marc Handley. You’ll often see him around campus and he knows everything there is to know about college sport because of the hours he puts in organising it all for you to enjoy!

There are two main ways you can enjoy college sports: The Carter Shield and George Wyatt.

Carter Shield

The Carter Shield is the main inter-college sports competition, with a large number of sports on offer. You might know most of these sports, but it might be the ones you have never heard of that you find most fun.

There are non-competitive taster sessions early in the term to see if you like the sports on offer, then there are four competition days — one for each sport. From these competition days, four colleges go through to Finals Day which is towards the end of term. The further a college gets, the more points it earns. Then, after the three terms, the points are added up and the college with the most points wins the Carter Shield.

A typical Carter Shield Sunday could go as follows: a team might meet as a college around midday before walking down to the sports centre via an optional trip to Spar. They say ‘an army marches on its stomach’ and so does a college on a Sunday. Once you’ve hit Spar for all important supplies such as the infamous ‘Spar Baguette’ and a drink of your choice, it’s onwards to the Sports Hall.

The sports reps deal with a draw to see which colleges play which and you will be able to meet people in your college or from elsewhere. You’ll see people you randomly spoke to in Freshers’ Week, people you recognise from your course or from college bars you’ve frequented. That is the social aspect to the Carter Shield — you’ll get to meet so many people from across campus that soon, you’ll be wandering down the Spine seeing people you know all over the place. University will become more and more of a community and you’ll be feeling like you’ve lived here for years by Christmas!

George Wyatt

The second major inter-college competition is the George Wyatt. This is dedicated to the bar sports of pool, darts and dominoes. There are single sex teams for darts and pool, but the dominoes is mixed.

Don’t write off bar sports like darts; the atmosphere on game night when you’re representing your college, with your team-mates cheering you on and giving banter to your opponents, is infectious.

There will be trials in Freshers’ Week for college teams. Whether you are a beginner or a professional, go along because you’ll be made welcome and will meet a great bunch of like minded people.

Personally, college sport is something very close to my heart because week in week out it entertains me. It will make you laugh, it might make you cry and it will undoubtedly introduce you to some of the lifelong friends that are often talked about in the same sentences as university life. So keep an eye out for posters and emails that will let you know when events are on and don’t hesitate to approach your Sports Reps or JCR to find out. I look forward to seeing you at the Carter Shield and George Wyatt nights!

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