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Most universities have a great emphasis on sports, and let me make this clear, Lancaster is no different. But what sets Lancaster greatly aside from other universities is the college aspect. Most sports at the university are simply Lancaster teams, like rugby and hockey. But you’ll likely be hearing about the college football, netball and bar sports teams much more often than the university equivalents.
The cynics amongst us will tell you that the college you’re in won’t make a difference after Freshers’ Week. But if you’re a sporty individual, you can dispel that belief immediately. There are nine colleges at Lancaster: Bowland, Cartmel, County, Furness, Fylde, Graduate, Grizedale, Lonsdale and Pendle. Each have dedicated sports teams to all of football, netball, pool, darts and dominoes; apart from Grad, who have limited students and therefore teams.
These can also be split into the intense and competitive football and netball, and the fabled bar sports. Fabled in the sense that it’s not frowned upon to drink at the same time as playing. Though that’s not to say that these indoor sports are in any way uncompetitive.
But first to football and netball. As will be specified by many, joining these squads is not only for the die-hard sports players. There’s such a heavy element on socialising also, and a great way to meet friends who share similar passions during the first few weeks of term. There are at least three teams for the men’s football and women’s netball teams, and everyone is guaranteed a place in the 3rd teams, which usually play friendlies instead of league matches.
The sense of achievement when defeating your rivals in the college leagues is immense. Ask anyone why they play sports and this will always be an answer, be it explicitly or secretly. For those elite A and B teams who triumph in their netball and football leagues respectively, they have the privilege of playing against York’s colleges in the annual varsity, known as Roses. Then there’s a pride of representing your college and university, as well as (hopefully) stuffing York in the process.
The bar sports for many people are more casual. But then again most things held inside the warm confines of the college bars are casual. With a pint of lager (or ale if you’re in Grad; a cocktail in Grizedale, etc) in your hand, one can play darts, pool or dominoes. The colleges all have men and women’s teams for these less physically enduring sports, albeit the men have 2 pool teams and the dominoes is mixed gender.
The men’s pool are held on Tuesday nights, and it’s a really great way to spend an evening. I should know, as I played (played being a tenuous term) pool for Bowland Bs for the course of 2014/15. It’s easy to get involved, and within a few games, it’ll be like you’ve been playing all your life.
Aside from the weekly league matches, there are also annual tournaments for the colleges including more sports. Being a Bowlander, I’m always going to put huge emphasis on the biggest of these, which is Founders. Bowland and Lonsdale are the two founding colleges of Lancaster University, and they duke it out over the weekend of Week 8 in Term 3 in numerous sports. Lonsdale won this competitive event in 2015, so Bowland will definitely be out for revenge next year.
There are also important tournaments for the other colleges. At the end of Term 3, Fylde won the Legends Shield, defeating Pendle, County and Grizedale in the process. Additionally, Cartmel and Furness compete in the Patriots Cup during Term 2 across a variety of sports, including badminton, capture the flag, korfball and even certain e-sports. There really is something for everyone.
Moreover, you can showcase your talents at slightly more obscure sports that don’t get the limelight they arguably deserve at the Carter Shield. This incorporates all 9 colleges, and includes dodgeball, handball and even bubble football for the first time in 2014. Unlike the other college tournaments, the Carter Shield isn’t just confined to one weekend, and is separated out over Term 1.
So as you can see, there are plenty of options for you to get involved in with your college to make sure you have something impressive to say when conversation with new friends inevitably turns to “Oh, what college are you in?” All of the colleges will be holding trials during and beyond Freshers’ Week, so you can easily go down with a new-found friend in your flat, or to meet future friends at the trials. Or hold on a little bit to showcase your hidden talent at a slightly more niche sport once the tournaments roll around.