Sick of school sport? University might just relight your fire

Ultimate frisbee? Jiu-Jitsu? Octopush? There are so many more sports besides football and rugby waiting for you at university

You crawl into bed, prop your head up on your pillow and gently shut your eyes to go to sleep. Except you can’t, because all you can see is replay after replay of that PE lesson in Year 8 – that one that not only ended with an own goal, but a trip to A&E and, ironically, a Robbie Fowler-style plaster across your nose for the next three weeks.

From this moment on, sport was your worst enemy, that you were against it and everything it stood for. You’re 18 years old now, about to go and spend the next three years of your life realising how they are absolutely nothing like you imagined they would be, and nothing has changed.

School has a tendency to do this to people, and it can put a lot of young people off sport before they have ever really tried it – if you weren’t good at football or netball then you weren’t good at sport, and that was that.

University, though, is a place where a lot of people choose to broaden their horizons. For some, this means trying drugs or midday lie-ins, but it could mean getting back into sport and making the most of having everything from octopush (underwater hockey, or thereabouts) to ultimate frisbee right on your doorstep.

The prospect of competing for a major university team can be quite frightening – it means pitching your Monster Munch-induced bulge and lack of self-confidence against the inevitably chiselled abs and steely-eyed assuredness of your peers in a hugely public sphere. However, the more unusual sports of the type you would never find at school are on much more of a level playing field. There are many university clubs at which almost everyone starts as a complete beginner.

Jess Davidson is the captain of the women’s ultimate frisbee team at York. She believes this is what makes the sport such a university favourite: “I like to think that ultimate frisbee at York is similar to ultimate frisbee at most universities. As most players only hear about it once they get to uni, everyone starts on the same level – making it one of the most inclusive sports that I know of.

“The biggest impact that it's had on my uni life is meeting new people from other unis. It's such a well spirited sport that the competitive rivalry between teams is only around during the matches – and off pitch everyone gets along really well.”

The quirkier the sport, the more fun it is

The draw of these quirky hipster sports can convince even the most mainstream jock. Just because someone is a genius with the hockey stick doesn’t mean they wouldn’t prefer to swap astroturf and elbow grazes for a volleyball court - and fiction burns.

James Brown played rugby, hockey and cricket for his school first teams but opted for something a little different upon joining Kingston University: “I played cricket at a high level but it was never my favourite sport, it was just that one on offer that I was best at,” he said.

“When coming to university there is a huge range of sports on offer and it seemed like the perfect chance to engage in some different ones that I had always wanted to try. Faced with the option of carrying on my cricketing or trying something new that I had always wanted to, I opted for the latter. I ended up practicing jiu-jitsu and boxing and couldn't have been more pleased. It also added a certain amount of discipline to my lifestyle which aided my study.”

If you look at it from a purely numerical point of view, there is a very high chance that the sport that turns out to be your favourite is not one that is offered at school and is even difficult to find a local club for. Even at the most privileged of schools, the list of sports on offer pales into insignificance compared to that at university.

It's not all polo and fencing

Alastair Land, deputy head at Harrow, says of his school’s sporting legacy: “A newcomer might form the impression that our sporting programme is comprised primarily of large team activities, with tree-fringed rugby, soccer, Harrow football and cricket pitches stretching away in every direction. It is true that on any given afternoon the majority of boys playing sport will be doing so in a mainstream sport, but that hides the reality.

“Many will play two or even three sports a day: a swim before breakfast, rugby training in the afternoon and a rackets match before tea is not uncommon. With honours in rackets, fives, fencing and polo in last academic year, the ‘minor’ sports are far from that epithet at Harrow.”

However, whilst it is great for the lucky few who are able to fence and play polo at Harrow, they are very exclusive sports that are a world away from the lifestyle of most young people. The great thing about sports like ultimate frisbee is that you don’t need a horse or a sword to play them, and even the frisbees are already provided.

After university, never again will you have such a range of sports on offer to you, and never in a better environment. The old cliché goes that there is a sport for everyone, and this is never closest to the truth than at uni.

Any hey, what better way to banish those ghosts of PE lessons past than with a heroic last minute bullseye in archery to seal the varsity crown for your new university? One can dream…

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

Financial Technical Consultant (C++, C#, Finance, MSc, PhD)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Financial Technical Consultant (C++, C#, F...

Year 3 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Teacher Required We are curr...

Year 5 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 5 Primary Teaching positionRands...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution