Jack Dowell, 3rd Year Engineering(almost 3 years ago)
Getting involved in any of the Hatfield clubs and societies, is one of the best decisions you can make when coming to Hatfield. Freshers week can be overwhelming with the vast array of clubs and societies on offer at college and university level. But even though the continuous emails and notifications can be hard to keep on top of during the first few weeks, I would highly recommend participating in as many taster sessions as you can. You will definitely surprise yourself with what you enjoy.
I love playing a wide variety of sports and trying new sports. When I first arrived at Hatfield I was taken aback by the sheer number of clubs and societies on offer and the amount of students that partake in college sport. Universities love to promote themselves, but it really is incredible that 75% of students at Durham play college sport, and it’s something I believe all students should embrace. After signing up to plenty of sports at the Hatfield sports fair and then attending various taster sessions, trainings, socials and the experience of capsizing in the river, I ended up persisting with Hockey and Mixed Lacrosse.
I had played hockey extensively before University and was also playing it at DU level. The Men’s Hockey A team had won the premiership the previous year and were looking to do so again in my freshers year. The team was in the enviable position of having a lot of second and third years who had played in the previous year as well as a few third years who had decided to drop down to college level from university level in their final year. With the addition of a few talented freshers, we had a really good team and played some decent hockey that season. I think we won all the games leading up to Christmas and only ended up losing a single game all season. It was a great season and we won the premiership. Joining college teams is an excellent way to meet the wider college community. You will meet the higher years as well as some freshers you may not have come across. The socials that clubs hold will often turn into some of the best nights out in Durham that you will have and they are an easy way to get to know people. There are lots of people that are just in clubs for the social side rather than playing sport.
On the other hand, I had never picked up a lacrosse stick before in my life, and it was a fun and sometimes frustrating journey to learn how to play and the rules of the game. The nice thing about mixed lacrosse, is that in general most of the other freshers haven’t played it before, so there is no expectation for you to be good. This is the same for most college sports, which is the wonderful thing about the system. It will cater to any level of proficiency, commitment or enthusiasm. You can be as involved or detached as you like. The first few weeks there were a lot of second years playing so I couldn’t get a game, but they started dropping off until it was a core of freshers turning up week in week out and the second year club captain. The vast majority of weeks we couldn’t even get a full team out. We started getting better and I’m not sure how, but we started winning even against teams with 3 more players on the pitch than us. We were enjoying ourselves and were under no pressure to win. Somehow at the end of the season we ended up winning the premiership.
It felt like a great achievement to have won 2 premierships in my first year, with a sport I had played before and a new sport. I enjoyed my time so much with the clubs that I became the captain of the Hockey team in my second year and the treasurer of the Lacrosse club. This highlights another of the many opportunities in college sport, the chance to become an exec member and have a position of responsibility.
I would recommend wholeheartedly getting involved with the Hatfield clubs and societies. It’s a fast, fun, and easy way to acclimatise into life at Durham and Hatfield. You meet lots of great people and have some amazing opportunities. There is no minimum commitment, you can put in as much as you like if you are unsure at first. I don’t want to sound cheesy but the more you put in the more you will get out. But don’t worry if you miss the freshers rush, the Hatfield clubs will be more than happy to have new members at any point in the year. I even plan to try a few more sports this year. The main thing is not to regret not trying something.