“when you receive your shirt and tie the feeling of pride is unmatched”
During Fresher’s week you’ll realise just how many opportunities there are for you to partake in, you’ll be doing a good job to walk anywhere on campus without having flyers shoved in your face from any number of societies trying to persuade you to join them.
However, I already knew before even arriving at university that I wanted to play hockey but I naively had no idea how large a part of my university life hockey was going to become. Not just from a sporting perspective but also on the social side. When it came to the day of the sports fair I headed past a multitude of sports clubs (from underwater hockey to dodgeball) and eventually found men’s hockey; after a brief chat with one of the exec I added my name to their list that was already close to 100 people long and agreed to go along to the trial session.
The trials led by Kali, the coach and ex-Olympian, were tough but the club really needed to see what we were capable of with the first competitive matches less than a week away. Starting with fitness and standard drills before putting us into match play at the end of session my legs were aching but I was happy as I had been selected to attend 1st/2nd team training. From there I was chosen to represent what is undoubtedly the best team in the club the 2nd XI (aka Team Chirps) you go through a lot with your team from visiting polys in the middle of nowhere (UEA anyone?) to putting up with some questionable umpiring after you discover the oppositions umpires are the captains mum and dad but from all of this you form a great relationship with everyone in your team.
All the old boys will rave about Wednesday nights in the SU or ‘circling’ as it is known, a night where all the big sports clubs sit descend on the SU for a night of fun, led by their social secretaries. One piece of advice I would give to anyone thinking of playing sport at University is to get a ticket for circling as the first couple of weeks will sell out before term even begins and it really helps you fit in with the club.
Week 3 came and with it my first experience of a circle, I nervously walked into the SU and was guided by one of the older boys. Having waited for everyone to arrive, we proceeded upstairs for an evening of well mannered frivolity. The rest of the night is difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t experienced it first hand but trust me when I say you will want to come back again and again and again. Circling becomes such a huge part of the week, one of the best parts of Uni.
After the first few weeks you will have decided that Hockey is the right sport for you, then you have the chance to truly become a member of the hockey club with an event called ‘adoptions’. All sports clubs do it and although it may seem daunting at first you get caught up in the moment and dare I say even enjoy it, after you’ve finished it instantly feel much more a part of the club especially when you receive your shirt and tie the feeling of pride is unmatched.
The Hockey season now well underway, training twice a week matches twice a week and we were finally starting to play well as a team. Wednesday quickly becomes the best day of the week as there are no lectures in an afternoon allowing you to play hockey against other students in BUCS, not the 40-year-old men with a hatred for students (maybe we remind them of their better, more youthful days, who knows?) that hack you to pieces on a weekend. If you’re at home, you can be sure other members of the club will be down to support you from the side-line (or at least to ridicule the opposition) really helping to foster a great atmosphere in the club and you can be sure a victory will make circle even sweeter.
With the end of term fast approaching, tests coming up and the cold dark nights drawing in I still found myself attending every event the hockey club had to offer. I felt I had finally settled in and definitely have the hockey club to thank for that. The Christmas meal was a roaring success (despite the lack of turkey) but with it I could tell the term was coming to an end. Soon I would return to the sleepy little town from where I came, my Wednesday nights would become incredibly lacklustre in comparison with nights in the SU and I was going to have to pay significantly more for a pint (definitely the main upside of not going to university near London).
Finally, it got to the end of term; assignments finished and tests completed, my first 10 weeks at Warwick were up and as everyone else was packing up and going home the hockey club had one more surprise in store, Dom Tour. This weekend had been built up so much and it more than lived up to expectations; starting with the infamous relay race in Westwood car park we then clambered onto the minibuses and set off to a mystery location. Everything I can remember about the next 72 hours will stay with me for the rest of my life; the curry, bowling, the Russians (truly building international bridges), a certain ‘toy’, room circle and The Oyster Bar to name but a few. I will definitely be going again and urge anyone in any doubt to do the same. With the end of tour, I returned home for Christmas to give my liver a much needed rest ready to return in January.
Ollie Harvey - AKA "Shetland"
Updated 11:42 - 27 Feb 2017 by Magnificent Men