Warwick Made Me a Sporty Person (Against My Will)
I am the first person to put my hands up and say that I have never been a particularly active person. I am hugely uncoordinated and slow, with poor stamina and a deep and abiding hatred for PE lessons. I was the one on the far edge of the pitch, pretending to be a fielder, but really just daydreaming during rounders. I had friends who would go off and play a different sport every day and joined all the school sports teams, and I was honestly mystified by their apparent love of running about in the cold, being shouted at and having things thrown at you. The day when I left secondary school and went to sixth form and realised I would never have to do PE again was truly one of the best days of my life.
It’s not like I wasn’t active – I walked 45 minutes to school and back every day, I could run for the bus and walk up escalators and things. I ran a 5K for Cancer Research with a respectable time and a minimum of walking. I tried new sports like rugby (they are very big and I am very small and the whole thing was terrifying) and yoga (so much harder than I thought it would be) but nothing really stuck. I just thought that some people are sporty and I was not, and I was happy with that.
Then I came to Warwick Uni which, while not being as sporty on the same level as, say, Loughborough, has got a fair few sports teams and has a lot of rowers and rugby players roaming the campus. I hadn’t planned on going to the Sports Fair during Fresher’s week (a fair of all the sports societies on and off campus, all trying to recruit new members) but I got caught up and ended up wandering around the hall having leaflets thrust into my hands.
One leaflet was for the Latin and Ballroom society and – seized by the bizarre urge to Try New Things which descends during Fresher’s – I went along to the taster session and was hooked. I was bewitched by the idea of wearing a beautiful dress and being twirled around the room on the arms of a handsome stranger as we moved perfectly in sync to the lilting tune of a waltz. This, predictably, didn’t happen; I am too bad at dancing to compete and I don’t have a partner. The only time I’ve ever worn a ballroom dress may have been for the club photoshoot but I did discover an amazing group of people and a joy in exercising that I hadn’t felt before.
I started going to ballroom classes every week, and running more frequently because there are so many great running routes around campus. To join a sports society you need to buy a sports membership, which gets you into the Sports Centre, and one of my friends invited me to play squash on one of the courts there, so I started doing that too. I joined the gym and just started strength training; they recently started a women’s hour from 11 – 12 on a Thursday, and a trainer explained to me what I was doing wrong (everything) and when I worked how to not consistently injure myself, I realised that it’s actually … fun.
All of a sudden, I worked out why people like sport – when you don’t have someone shouting at you across a frozen pitch at nine in the morning, forcing you to run laps, or a disappointed team frustrated at your lack of ability to hit/catch/run, it is actually fun. It feels good to learn something new, to try new sports and see what you’re good at. It also feels good to know that I can justify eating more cake.
So if you are looking to try a new sport, then Warwick is a really good place to try one – or more – out. If you want to make friends, or be healthier, or even just do something other than that essay you’ve been putting off for weeks, there’s a new sport to try seemingly every day. Even if you’re not looking to become sporty, watch out: if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.