Heading to college can be a daunting experience – a different place, new people and a big change from school. You’ve moved to from a place where you would meet the same people every day, the classes are relatively small and you’re in a familiar environment. Settling into college presents a new challenge – you’re trying to get into the swing of things and it can be tough at the start. Colleges have several clubs and societies that you can get involved in, meet new people and try new things. Don’t underestimate the benefit of taking up camogie again or trying out trampolining – you’ll meet like minded people and begin to build a network of friends.
Her Sport are delving into the college sport, bringing you experiences of club members and introducing clubs you can get involved in at different colleges and universities!
“Kicking off in first year, there were so many options to join clubs, new sports to try and during orientation and freshers week I got a good idea of what was out there. For a fleeting moment I considered trampolining – it seemed like great fun and many people start off new to the sport. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to join, walking around the many booths to find where to start.
I started off in college where there was a huge population and just five from my year at school who were on the campus – none of us in the same course. I was commuting and the classes were spread out in my course – sometimes we had just one lecture a day – people came and went. Lots of people seemed to know each other. I was part of a big course and we shared classes with other big courses – you might never see the same person again and it can be hard to strike up conversation with a stranger. If you’re in one of the Dublin based colleges and coming from outside Dublin – find the country folk, it’s likely they don’t know anybody either!
College seemed like the land of opportunity – I had been looking forward to find a club to get involved in and meet people similar to me. The girls I had met in my course weren’t that interested in sport but after the Leaving Cert, I wanted to get back into it properly. I tried hockey at the beginning, having played a bit at school – there were plenty of first years and it was easy to meet people. You played as part of a team and it was necessary to communicate – the start of meeting people outside my course and other girls that enjoyed sports.
I played hockey for a few months but in second semester was lured back towards swimming. I had swam for several years and the club had members that wanted to compete, as well as those who used to be competitive but wanted to stay involved in sport. We may not have swam for the same clubs but some people knew each other from racing or had friends in common. We had similar backgrounds, similar experiences of training before school as we grew up and it was a great environment to build a group of friends. The club was organised, you showed up to training when you wanted and generally it was a nice bunch of people. You could be as involved as you wanted, there every day or show up every two weeks.
I stayed involved in the club from first year to final year, with varying levels of commitment. Every year I competed at Intervarsity’s – travelling to different parts of the country for two days of racing. The heats on the Friday, the finals on the Saturday and most importantly – a dinner and night out on the Saturday night. You run into more people that you used to swim with in your own club or people you used to race against and it’s honestly one of the best events every year. You don’t have to go with the aim of winning or beating your old PB or even racing if you don’t want to – but I would definitely encourage going with the college club, you’ll have a great time!
Swimming is the type of sport that most people have “retired” by the time they hit eighteen, nineteen, twenty – we find different priorities or have simply had enough training at 5am. If you’re looking to continue being serious and competitive, you’ll find your place. There are still athletes training full time in the sport and there are also many other sports that people take up at college and compete on a regular basis. With so many options you’ll find what you’re looking for.
I joined athletics for a year and really enjoyed it. There was huge range of ability, a great coach and some great racing. I didn’t compete but went to watch some of the events and was part of the club on a more social level.
You make the experience what you want it to be and can be as involved as much or as little as you want. Focus on racing and competing, work hard and you’ll progress. Maybe you want to join the committee, whether it’s ents officer or captain – you’ll gain new experience, something to talk about it a job interview and might even make great changes in the club. Go down once a week and build a network of friends – with the swim team we had a few nights out a year, team dinners, trips to the cinema, ice-skating and trips away. People made real friends and although finished in college a few years, we meet up for coffee, go on trips to France and have an annual New Years dinner.”
To the first years – it’s your college experience, make the most of it and if you’re feeling a little lost, it’ll truly help you settle in. To the second, third, fourth years and so on – it’s not too late to join. Head down to the freshers events, reach out to the club on email or Facebook or even Instagram. Watch out for the spotlights on different clubs around the country – you might just find the perfect one.