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Whilst it may be surprising for some to hear, hockey is actually one of the best-represented sports at Lancaster, with over 100 members in total when combined with the Men’s Club. LUWHC have three teams who compete in BUCS competitions on a Wednesday afternoon, whilst the 1st XI also compete in a local Saturday League. Maisy sees the strength in depth of the club as a real selling point: ‘Having three squads enables us to cater for all different levels of ability, experience and commitment. Particularly with the launch of JustPlay Hockey this year in conjunction with Sport Lancaster and LUMHC, more than ever we have been able to provide hockey to anyone who wants to play.’
After a successful first year for the JustPlay initiative that saw sessions available for sports such as basketball and swimming, the scheme has been developed to involve other sports, including hockey. The extra help was particularly welcome for LUWHC, as the demand created by the gold-medal-winning exploits of the GB women’s hockey team in Rio meant that they didn’t have enough spaces to give everyone a chance in their BUCS teams: ‘At the October Freshers’ Fair, we were amazed to have over 100 girls alone sign up to our hockey trials, the largest number we have had for many years. Unfortunately, we were unable to place every person who turned up to trials into a team due to reaching maximum capacity of sixteen members in each team, but this year we have also been fortunate enough to have JustPlay Hockey.’ And Maisy is keen to point out that whilst it might appear that the JustPlay members are not part of the club as they train on a different day, if individuals do come to the sessions regularly then there is a high probability they will graduate to the 3rd XI, with 3 JustPlay attendees having already made this step up. If you are interested in joining these sessions, there is more information about it on the ‘JustPlay Hockey’ Facebook page, with once again the focus being that all ability levels are welcome.
Along with a few other Lancaster sports clubs, LUWHC have been chosen to be a LUSU Focus Club. Maisy sees this as a real benefit, as the extra funding has been spent on an additional coach, so that there are two coaches rather than one between the three squads: ‘This has enabled the second and third team to have more one-to-one coaching, whilst the first team can focus on specific targets with their individual coach. Due to this Focus Club privilege, we have been more motivated and determined to put the extra effort into our training sessions, as well as extra fitness alongside. Another strength of this season is that we have been looking at setting club-wide and personal targets for improvement, aided by both of the coaches.’
And so far, it seems as if the large fresher intake, extra coaching and goal-setting has been paying off. During the 2015/2016 season the club had some very mixed results. The first team were unfortunately relegated from BUCS 1A to 2A, and despite the second and third team having consistent results it was not enough to secure promotion. However, the progress so far this year has been very encouraging, with all three teams currently sitting in the top two of their respective leagues, whilst the first team are sitting pretty at the top of their Saturday League. Unfortunately, none of the teams remain in the Cup but Maisy assures us that the girls are taking the opportunity to focus on their BUCS fixtures, and of course, the big one, Roses.
Roses sees the club compete against arch-rivals York in both indoor and outdoor hockey. Last year the Indoor 2nd XI lost 1-0 but the first team secured a 3-3 draw. Outdoor hockey saw some close games with the 3s and 1s both drawing, and a disappointing loss for the 2nd team. Needless to say, the club are looking to improve on these results away in York in April: ‘This year, we have been focusing more on our fitness training throughout the season, and the increased amount of effort has already been paying off in our BUCS results. If the high standards we have already set ourselves are maintained in the second half of the season, there is no reason why we can’t spring a few surprises away in York come April.’
Despite training twice a week, competing in BUCS every Wednesday, and the 1st XI thriving in their Saturday league, hockey isn’t all about the time spent on the pitch. In fact, according to Maisy, ‘some members don’t even like hockey, they are just part of the club to enjoy the weekly socials at Bentleys on a Wednesday! These socials allow us to unwind and celebrate some epic results, or drown our sorrows in some cider and black if we didn’t get the result we wanted, all the while dressed as Harry Potter, Mr. Potato Head or a Teletubby.’
Although it may sound cliché, Maisy ‘couldn’t be prouder of all of the girls this year as Chairwoman.’ She feels that the club had some undeserved losses last season, but fortunately it seems as if the extra effort has paid off so far, and luck has turned in their favour. If you would like to get involved in the club, whether it be in a playing or supporting capacity, keep up with all of the latest information on the LUWHC Facebook and Instagram pages, and if you ever have a spare Wednesday, support is always appreciated!