Semester One Report
Posted on January 14, 2021
Semester One Review
Now that we have reached the mid-point of what has been a very different year than usual, we wanted to take time to reflect on the overall success within the hockey club over the past few months. This year has seen many changes compared to a normal academic year. The students and club committee have shown great resilience and flexibility with the restrictions that have been put in place and changed regularly across the past semester.
With the changes throughout the season, we have done our upmost to provide regular hockey in a safe and competitive environment for as many students as possible. This semester has seen record numbers of students joining the hockey club, and due to the rules in place around training bubbles, we have had to create in essence 8 women’s teams and 3 men’s teams.
In fresher’s week, we expanded the number of trials on offer to students coming to the University to ensure that training and trials were able to occur in a very safe environment. This gave incoming students peace of mind and allowed coaches to place players in the correct team moving forward.
Due to the challenging situation in student halls which left freshers unable to meet and make friends in the usual social environment that St Andrews is well known for, the club decided to put on covid friendly pitch sessions. These sessions were held within national governing body and University rules to allow freshers to meet players from out with their teams and friendship groups. Despite the challenges presented, everyone has shown a great attitude over the 1st semester.
For the first month of term games against external opposition were off the table, so the club focussed on creating an internal club league to allow teams to play matches against each other and test their abilities. We were able to get almost 3 rounds of games completed against teams above and below each other with many closely fought games across the club.
The women’s 1st team and a combined squad of men’s 2nd and 3rd team players managed to get some external games after the University allowed the club to host competitions. During the two-week window between the University allowing external competition and Fife going into tier 3 the Women’s 1st team played against Dundee Wanderers in a competitive game and the Men’s combined team hosted Dunfermline Carnegie 2/3s in a friendly competition which was well-received by all.
One of the highlights of the competitive games that were played was the Men’s 2nd team against the Women’s 1st team. With a large amount of pre-match chat from both teams, the game was very much an end to end affair played across four closely fought quarters. The men’s 2s were predictable in their ways of missing back post tap ins and crumbling under no pressure around the back. Despite the better possession hockey, the women’s 1st team struggled with the speed of the men’s counter-attacking and conceded with 2 minutes remaining. A rematch is already eagerly anticipated for the 2nd semester.
This semester has been challenging for players and coaches alike; a huge thanks must go to the captains and coaches for adapting and abiding by the ever-changing covid rules that have been presented by the University and Scottish Hockey throughout the last 4 months. Coaches have delivered a variety of sessions across the year. They have had to be very reactive and adaptable across the 3 months going from non – contact, to contact and then back to non – contact while trying to create fun and engaging sessions for all their members.
This year has seen all teams across the club improve considerably, both combined with the excellent intake of students and the extra training sessions that we have been able to put on for students. We will be continuing to push players harder in the 2nd semester so keep your eyes peeled for updates on how the club continues to develop.
Emily Dark, 3rd-year Physics student, was selected to participate in 3 weeks of full-time hockey training with the Great Britain squad ahead of a series against Netherlands and Belgium. Emily got selected for the squad and travelled to Netherlands and Belgium with the team and thoroughly enjoyed her experience. Emily is working hard to balance her degree, playing hockey at the highest level and joining the RAF Reserves.
This year was also the first year that hockey has seen students join the club as part of the Postgraduate Sport Scholarship programme. Annie, Claire and Woodard have had a great impact on the women’s 1st team and have also been getting involved in coaching squads to pass on their knowledge to players in other teams.
Despite the current restrictions in place across the country and at the University, the club brought back the Junior Hockey programme and has had a very successful 12-week block of sessions. We have had around 70 children attending across the 12 weeks, these have been run safely, and feedback from parents and players has been excellent. The student coaches' support has been excellent and hopefully allowed students to develop leadership and coaching skills. This year sees several our club coaches graduate so will see a number of our Outreach coaches stepping up to lead teams in 2021/22 season.
Given the challenges throughout the semester, the Executive Committee has been very busy leading the way for the club to continue to thrive. Cath, Club President, has been exceptionally busy leading from the front. Over the summer she worked with Grays to bring back their sponsorship and support package for all club members. As part of an initiative to allow students to get to know people from across the club, she created a “Chomp’s Ordinary People” profile for randomly selected students within the club. This has allowed students to get to know others across the club for when socials are finally allowed. Cath was also interviewed by The Saint around Emily’s selection for the GB squad and has represented the club at various committee forums run by the AU sharing good practice that the hockey club has set.
Our social convenors have been busy setting up covid safe socials. The women’s social secretaries set up an online social with the football club. The men went for an online poker social and have arranged various golf events across the teams.
Our social media presence has been excellent this year being run by committee member Amy Hall. Various events have been promoted on our pages such as Movember, World Mental Health Day, SPEAK Up, meet the committee, Saint of the week and other wellbeing and mental health initiatives.
Charities and Student Support
This year from May through to now, the club has been raising money and supporting charities that are close to a number of students.
In May the club did ‘Run 4 SAMH’, whereby members we challenged members to run 4k and raise 4k collectively. By the end of the month members of the club had run over 4,500km and raised £4131.76 for Scottish Association of Mental Health. Students participated in Green week by going vegetarian for a week, not driving to training, and only using reusable water bottles. The club also took part in Movember to raise money for men’s mental health charities. As part of this challenge, the club encouraged members to go for a run with others from within the club to talk about their mental health and get them out of the house. The club raised a massive £5,499 which is the most the club has ever fundraised for one charity in one go.
Members of the committee initiated and then worked with other Athletic Union clubs to set up a mental health pledge to ensure that all members of their clubs were being looked after. The Saints SPEAK Up pledge was received well by various other sports clubs and societies. We will continue to practice the pledge clauses in Semester 2 and encourage even more sports clubs and societies to get involved.
Overall semester one has brought many challenging situations for the club. Still, we hope this report shows how we have been able to overcome these and adapt to the ever-changing situation. We will continue to build upon our current projects and charity work next semester where we will also hopefully return to playing competitive hockey too.