We have asked new students and graduates to blog their experiences of netball whilst at university to give you all the inside knowledge of how to get the best out of netball at university. Their blogs are packed full of information to give you an insight into what happens at university, their experiences of netball when they get there and the benefit and social life netball has given them too.
Elisha – Where I am now…
I quickly settled into University life and my new netball bubble. I looked forward to training sessions, wearing my kit and Wednesday’s were the best day of the week. A new chapter had started and University and netball began to fit into my life perfectly. Studying my sports development with coaching degree made me realise it wasn’t all about the playing and as a volunteer to the sport I was eager to see what else I could dip my toes into.
Half way through my first year I achieved my UKCC Level 2 netball coaching certificate and within weeks of passing I was in contact with the Netball Development Community Coach – Gemma Sandberg. In January 2013 I found myself in a coaching position delivering a back to netball session on Wednesday evenings – as if Wednesday’s couldn’t get any better! I started to feel the netball life I left behind had started again but netball wasn’t the game it used to be. The North-East had offered me so much more than just the game.
In September 2014 I achieved the role as University Netball Officer for Northumbria. It was this role which changed my perspective to netball and channelled me into my future. The role of UNO was not only my University highlight but gave me a little insight into what working for England Netball would be like.
The buzz of netball didn’t come from playing anymore it came from providing opportunities and watching others play and it felt amazing to see so many students coming to my session and loving netball! As my third and final year at Northumbria passed playing became less but coaching became more which continued to open up more doors than I could ever imagine.
June 2015 hit and three years of University were to come to an end. Another chapter done, another netball family, and a first class degree in my hands. The UNO experience confirmed that a career with England Netball was something I really wanted to do. I started to look on the website for job vacancies and pushed myself to apply.
A month after graduating I had bagged myself the job of a lifetime with England Netball as Netball Development Community Coach for Stockport and Trafford in Greater Manchester. I started University as just a participant of England Netball and 3 years on, I am now an employee of England Netball.
I could not believe the positon I was in and how quickly netball had changed from being a sport to part of my life and career. I was to follow in Gemma’s footsteps as that was where it all began, not only is she part of my netball family in the North-East but she’s also mentoring me through the job.
Netball never stops wherever you are whatever you do. You never know where it might take you…
Amy – First few weeks
Another week has flown by and I’ve finally had to start to think about my course and doing work rather than partying. This week has definitely been a lot quieter than the first week of freshers, I don’t know how some people are still alive!
One guy on my course has been out every night, to every single freshers event and has only missed a couple of lectures. I don’t know how he’s still going! Although when it came to the trampolining practical he did jump off pretty quickly to make a run for the toilets. That was pretty funny, but to be honest I was just glad that I’d stayed in for a movie night with the flat mates.
Netball trials for Gloucestershire Uni’s 4 BUCS teams took place last Sunday. I went to the trials with about 40 others who included a few netball friends I recognised from County and West Midlands. This was a really nice surprise and made me feel a bit more at ease at the trials.
After a grueling 3-hour session of gameplay I was knackered but managed to make the 2nd team with my friend from county. I couldn’t believe how much I hurt the following day; I knew my fitness wasn’t the best but wow! I didn’t think I’d have to result to crawling up the stairs.
The Tuesday after, we had a second round of trials in smaller groups; this was nice as it was a good way for us freshers to get to know people and how they played. So far I was really enjoying my netball experience at Uni but this soon changed after I looked at a post on the Facebook group – Strength and conditioning 8-9am on Friday. Really, strength and conditioning on a Friday morning, all I could think about was the bleep test and how unfit I am and how everyone else was going to have done some sort of summer training, unlike me.
Actually when I turned up it wasn’t that bad, the trainers were testing our strength and power so this included max push ups and squat testing and stuff. I was so excited when the first thing the trainer guy said was “you don’t need to look that worried we’re not doing the bleep test today.” Yes!!!
I’ve got to that sad point now where I’ve run out of socks. This means I’m going to have to make my first trip down to the launderette. I didn’t want to go down the same road as my housemate whose started buying new tops from the Primark down the road because he can’t be bothered to go to the launderette.
I did have a moment of weakness this week though and went to the KFC across the road after a very tough and long day at Uni. But to be fair that’s only the 2nd takeaway I’ve had in 2 and a half weeks, which is still pretty impressive by Uni students standards anyway.
This week I’ve also had badminton trials, which was super exciting. We haven’t had the results back from the trials yet so I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed but if not I’m sure I can join one of the hundreds of social sessions they have running. This is also the same case for Netball as the Uni have lots of Netball Now sessions both in Cheltenham and Gloucester so students at both campuses can get involved. This week I also found a job coaching netball in a little town just outside of Gloucester City called Hucclecote.
I’ve started coaching the U12’s group and on Friday went along to my first training session with them. I was super excited but really upset about my little teams I’d left behind in Bridgnorth but I’ll be back soon and help with coaching them in their summer leagues if they’ll still have me.
On Sunday I took 2 teams to their matches, I was really impressed with how every single one of the girls played, winning a number of their matches. Hopefully I will be soon completing my Netball UKCC Level 2 then we can have lots more netball fun together.
Amy – Fresher’s Week
It has been exactly a week since I moved into my house in Gloucester and after the commotion of moving in I think I’m finally settled. I’m living in a little old fashioned house, which houses 8. Everyone in the house is really nice and easy to get along with, it was really lovely that on the first night we popped to the pub next door for a couple of quiet drinks just to get to know each other.
In our house we have quite a nice mix with 4 boys and 4 girls in the house and 5 of my housemates at Hartbury and then 3 of us at the University of Gloucestershire. However on moving in I was a bit gutted (more like suicidal) that we had no WIFI! We could only connect to the Internet through Ethernet, which meant I couldn’t get Internet on my phone or my laptop because it was a Mac. However my housemate Rachel and I managed to sort this by a converter thing so now we have WIFI YEEEEEY!
At Gloucester it’s a Fresher’s Fortnight, which I thought would be great fun until it came to an induction lecture starting at 8am Monday morning. After going out every night since moving in, I didn’t know if I’d get through the whole day at Uni. However after getting to the Uni just about on time and seeing the others I knew I wasn’t the only one and at least didn’t have to run out of the lecture theatre to be sick like so many others did.
Since starting Uni I think I have surprised myself quite a lot because I haven’t been to the McDonalds or KFC across the road from my house yet, even when my housemates did at 4am last Sunday morning. I’ve actually cooked some stuff, maybe ignore the pizza that I cooked with the foam bottom still attached but hey ho I made a mean chicken curry. I suppose I’ll get the hang of it eventually (or not).
On Wednesday I went to the Uni Fresher’s Fayre, which had lots of useful information about all the sports clubs and societies that the university has to offer. I ended up joining the Netball, Badminton and Cricket teams as well as the History Society but somehow I don’t think I’ll be able to keep all of these up when I have all my Uni work to do.
I found out at the Fresher’s Fayre that Gloucester Uni have 4 netball teams in the BUCS league, which play every Wednesday afternoon. I was asked to give my e-mail address and details and was given all the information about the upcoming trials and socials coming up. I’m really excited to meet everyone especially after finding a fellow netballer on my course that plays GK/GS so I might have a fellow shooter to work with.
I can’t wait now for my course to start and to get stuck in to all that university life has to offer. I’m also super excited about the netball trials this weekend and fingers crossed I will be playing some competitive netball over the upcoming season. There is also a lot of great volunteering and coaching opportunities, which I’m definitely going to take advantage of whilst I’m not too busy with work. I’m just going to have to try and survive the rest of Fresher’s first.
Elisha – Fresher’s Week & Trials
After settling into my new home and meeting my new flat mates my attention was straight back to netball. Wednesday afternoons at Northumbria were pumped around sport when Team Northumbria competed in their games. First things first, I went to go sign up for netball trials. I was even nervous about signing up but I headed to the Sports Fair.
There were so many opportunities in different sports that you could play but I hunted for the netball stand. Signing up was just the start and the easy part, my name was down and trials were to be held on the Saturday and Sunday – my first weekend in Newcastle.
As I walked out of the fair, I saw the netball girls performing some drills on the court in the Team Northumbria netball dresses looking really professional. That picture stuck with me during the days leading up to trials and I started thinking I wasn’t good enough and my value of netball began to feel different.
The day of trials arrived and for the first time in a long while I stepped into my netball trainers feeling sick with nerves. As I walked to the trials, each step felt heavier and heavier – I’d never walked this slowly to netball ever. I was given my number (57) and looked to see when I was on.
I didn’t know anybody; my only friend was the court! As I put on my bib and took my starting position I searched for my passion and love for the sport and imagined I was playing back home with my club. The sound of the starting whistle focused my thoughts and my head was in the game.
There were three rounds of trials at Northumbria and I made it to the last round. The names were read out of successful players and I felt my heart drop as I was left standing on the side of those who didn’t make it through.
I was absolutely gutted and felt nothing but disappointment to a sport I had given so much to. I was down for a few days but then plucked up the courage to join the social intra-mural league. It was still an opportunity to play and part of me wondered if now would be a good time to take up a new sport (I had rugby in mind).
I turned up to the social league and noticed one of the girls who selected at trials was there. I was determined to play hard and give it my all in hope I might just get a second chance.
It was a miracle I was invited along to a Team Northumbria Netball team training session, I couldn’t believe it. I was ecstatic when they announced I would join the Netball 4th team. Team Northumbria has 5 teams so to get straight into the 4ths from nowhere was a great feeling!
I think to be part of a team or club gives you a strong sense of belonging and to be a part of Team Northumbria felt like joining a big uni family. I was so happy that I still had my place on the court, I was so close to trading it for rugby but netball wasn’t stopping any time soon for me and this was just the beginning…
Amy – Pre-University
In a few weeks time I will be starting at the University of Gloucester studying Sports Development and Coaching. The though of going to uni and moving away is both exciting and terrifying for me at the same time. Day to day tasks which people find simple like cooking I find extremely difficult. At best I can just about cook beans on toast and that’s at a push.
After securing a place at the university I could now FINALLY book my Freshers tickets and plan for the Freshers Fortnight. I also joined the Freshers Facebook page where I was able to chat to a number of other students on my course. After receiving my welcome pack I started to feel more a part of uni life, like it was actually going to happen in a number of weeks. This got me thinking and I suddenly realised that I have nowhere to live.
I was on the uni accommodation waiting list as they had run out of accommodation for Freshers students. This was kind of a big problem as it no way guaranteed me accommodation and I found out that I was on holiday for the accommodation fayre that the uni put on for students without accommodation. My mum and dad joked saying it would be so much cheaper if I just stayed in the old tent we had in our garage, but somehow I didn’t find this funny.
I very quickly planned for us to go house searching in Gloucester with a couple of girls in the same situation who I had met through Facebook. Luckily we managed to find a really nice student house right in the city centre only a 20 minute walk to campus. There is a pub right next door and… a McDonalds and KFC across the road; I may not have to learn to cook after all. Sorted!
Now I thought I could start my shopping spree for uni stuff. After saying that I was only going to have a look what the Students Union online shop had to offer, it was funny how I logged out officially broke. I had bought the complete uni gym kit package, a NUS card and somehow I had been distracted from just the one website also buying a mammoth load of stationary and new netball trainers for no reason whatsoever.
Automatically buying trainers for the start of the season was something I did every year without thinking, but this time I’d be playing nearly 2 hours away from home. I still worry about playing with a completely new team but I’m still really eager to play at a higher level again after taking a season easy to focus on my A-Levels. I will hopefully meet some of the team at the Sports Freshers events this including the Sports Fayre where I can meet all the coaches and most of the older players.
For me the start of uni can’t come quick enough and I can’t wait to get involved in every aspect of university life. However it maybe a little interesting to see how I adapt to the first few weeks living without all my little home comforts. Me trying to adapt to a whole different lifestyle of living on my own will be like a fish out of water but I’m sure I’ll survive, well I hope I will. I’m sure my parents will find it thoroughly entertaining because deep down both them and I know I wont be able to live off McDonalds for long.
Elisha – Preparation
It still hadn’t property sunk in that I was going to Northumbria University to study Sport Development with Coaching. I felt a mix of emotions from feeling nervous and sad about leaving home, all my friends and all the things I had achieved in York.
I kept doubting myself about whether or not this was what I wanted and if this was going to be the right choice. I had so many questions buzzing around my head but my friends and family just kept telling me what an amazing opportunity and experience it would be and I slowly started to agree.
As more and more of my things started to build up in the spare bedroom, the more it began to feel real as the closer it got. Bedding….check, laptop…check, clothes…check, netball trainers…CHECK! Being the netball nutter that I am, I started to pack up a mini netball box which had all my netball kit, whistle, scorecards and my UKCC level 1 netball file (my pride and joy).
The more I started packing all my netball things the more excited I began to feel about starting University. With netball on the brain I decided to look on Facebook to see if I could find anyone else who loved netball as much as me. I was living in Liberty Quay accommodation so I added myself to the group and within minutes I got a reply from a girl called Daisy who was studying my course and a keen netball player. We talked about netball for ages and agreed to stay in touch.
I kept looking out for netball news in the north-east but nothing was jumping out at me. All I kept getting where notifications about fresher’s week which involved night clubs and drinking. Although, going out was fun, I wanted to spend some nights on netball courts, not just on dance floors.
So, Thursday 14th September arrived and I was to fly the nest as they say. After ranting it out with my dad about how full the car was and how much stuff I had, my life in York was to be carried up North to Newcastle.
I gave my mum a big hug, not forgetting Lolly and Smudge the cats and Brin the dog and took in my last bit of good old Yorkshire air. So the journey to Newcastle began with my life in boxes and so much uncertainty flying around my head about what was to come.
Elisha – Results Day
The day arrived that I’d been dreading for months…RESULTS DAY! It was official; I was going to start a whole new life at Northumbria University. I couldn’t believe I’d done it and all my hard work had paid off. More importantly, it was where a new netball life would begin as I’d heard all about Team Northumbria Netball.
They say university netball is amazing but I was very worried about trialling out and playing with a new team. I kept thinking what if everyone else is better than me? Netball at University can be really competitive and I’d heard it was really hard to get into a team. Northumbria University is the home of Team Northumbria netball Superleague squad which made me even more excited but slightly nervous at the same time!
After celebrating my results, a farewell night to my netball club took place. A club who I took my first steps onto the netball court with. If I hadn’t have had the ball or the courts to help let my stress out on I wouldn’t have got the results I got or be where I am today.
I started to feel sad about leaving my club behind and all the friends I had made. I knew there would be lots of other different clubs to join in Newcastle but I began to think I might have too much going on with university and might not have time for netball anymore. I didn’t want it to come to that and quickly got that idea out of my head. So I began to look out on the University sport website and started asking people on the fresher’s page to see who else played netball.
I had played netball since I was 10 years old, inspired by my PE teacher and club coach, I wasn’t planning on stopping anytime soon. As a student studying Sport Development with Coaching, my love for netball as a volunteer, coach, umpire and player made me determined to hold onto that passion and throw myself into a new netball world.
I began to realise that moving away and starting a new chapter doesn’t mean that the things you’ve always done have to stop, it just means you still do them, but with different people, in a different area, learning and developing new things.
I was so excited to see what Netball in the North-East would have to offer. Little did I know, I was about to start my biggest netball journey yet which took my netball buzz to a whole new level…
Amy – Results Day
The night before results day can only be described as the worst and longest night of my life. After nearly deciding no to do A-Levels at all, I was so excited but petrified at the same time as to what would happen in the next 24 hours. I was hoping to go and study Sports Development and Coaching at the University of Gloucestershire.
After waking up at 5am on August 13th 2015 a feeling of overwhelming helplessness suddenly dawned on me. My future would be shaped by three letters written on a piece of paper, my university place depended on three letters written on a piece of paper!
I started thinking about what could happen if I got into uni and what I would do if I didn’t. I thought about sport at uni as I have been a voluntary netball coach at my local club as well as s keen player and umpire for over 5 years. I wondered whether I would get the same enjoyment out of netball due to being part of a different team, with different people and an overall different set up.
Later that morning I found out to my amazement hat I had secured a place at Gloucestershire. I was so relieved and excited that I got my results to go to university achieving CDD. These grades were slightly below my targets but this didn’t bother me as I was so proud that I’d actually completed 6th Form and gained a place at university.
My two best friends who I had been at school with for the past 7 years were also both accepted into university. This was great that we all got into to uni but meant that it was official… we were all going to opposite ends of the country! This was something we’d avoided talking about by just saying ‘we’ll have a great summer together’ every time someone bought results day up and ‘of course we’ll still see each other even when we get to uni’.
Later that evening was my last netball match with my netball team who I had played with in numerous leagues since the age of 14. I knew I would find it hard leaving my netball team, which consisted of two of my coaches who coached me since the age of 8. I was looking forward to this evening and knew in the car on the way there that everyone would be pummelling me with questions about my results, the university itself and about what netball opportunities Gloucester had to offer.
However apart from knowing that they were in the BUCS league I didn’t really know much else about the netball opportunities they had to offer. This worried me a bit as coming from such a tight knit netball family I didn’t know whether I would enjoy netball as much. It felt like now I would be isolated from my friend’s family and even my netball team. However I’m sure my time at university will be nothing less than an adventure.