Celebrating Female Leaders in Sport: Conversations with Team Leicester Club Captains

Feature Image: Ella Johnson @ellajohnson8

Ahead of Varsity, University of Leicester Cheer and Stunt captain Cleo Moseley spoke to three Club Captains – Ysabel Wagland from Lacrosse (ULLAX), Alice Bennett from Swimming and Water Polo (SWOLO), and Isabelle Scott from Boat Club (UOLBC) – to learn more about their experiences in sport and their clubs.

Ysabel started playing lacrosse in her first year and has been playing for around two and a half years.

“I came to the sport having never even seen it being played, let alone played it myself, but there’s always the opportunity to learn, and it’s not a sport where people will look down on you if you can’t do it.”

Alice, who started swimming when she was six, stated that water polo is a new sport for her: “I joined water polo this year, in my third year, so it’s a new sport for me.”

Members of SWOLO come from a range of backgrounds and abilities: “We have absolute beginners, people who may not have swum for five or six years, to some who have just won at nationals.”

Lacrosse is taught from the basics every time, and new members are put into groups so that everyone can be brought up to the same level.

“Most of our members have never played lacrosse before. We have four or five girls who have played long-term before Uni[versity] and a couple of members who played at school, but never in a competitive setting.”

Ysabel joined lacrosse due to the welcoming impression she got of the members at Freshers. She thought it would be a nice challenge and liked that there were opportunities to progress.

“You have the opportunity to come a long way and develop, because it’s quite a small club. I was the second team Vice-Captain in my second year, and now I’m Club Captain.”

Isabelle has 12 years of collective experience in either rowing or coxing, but picked up coxing after a back injury. Isabelle gave this advice to apprehensive women: “I’d just say, go for it! Rowing is a very specific sport that a lot of people won’t get the chance to get involved with.”

Alice highlighted the mental health benefits of sport at university: “Sport is used as a massive mental health relief, and it’s good that girls can come together through social media and chat to each other at socials and training.”

Boat Club ensures that there is direct pastoral support to those who need it, whether it concerns women’s health or otherwise.

“Seeing if they need a week off, being around to talk and seeing if they need help are all things I do,” Isabelle said.

Lacrosse have a ‘captain’s player’ after every match, which is “someone who hasn’t necessarily been the best on the pitch, but has outshone their usual playing ability or has done something the captains have recognised.”

On what makes a good Club Captain or President, Isabelle exaggerated the importance of teamwork: “It’s all about good communication, good teamwork, and having a very open and positive attitude. Just genuinely having love for your sport, that’s one of the most important things, and a love for the people around you.”

Ysabel added to the sentiment: “You have to be approachable to people in your club and be friendly and welcoming to everyone.”

Varsity is finally back this year. The University of Leicester will go up against De Montfort University in a range of sports, and one will be crowned 2022 Varsity champions.

“I am very excited for Varsity! We’re good at different things. It’ll be interesting!” Isabelle said about Boat’s Varsity.

Swimming and Water Polo are equally as excited: “It’s one of those events that gathers a lot of support and that everyone gets hyped about.”

The excitement and buzz around Varsity is growing stronger and clubs who are longstanding champions are particularly eager to maintain their titles.  

“We’re very excited! There’s a lot of pressure because I believe we have never lost before.”

Ysabel highlighted that usually only third-year members get to play at Varsity, but due to a lack of players, others will be able to get involved too.

“One thing that has happened this year is we haven’t had enough members to carry on as two teams, so we have all come together as one team. It’s so nice that it feels a lot more like one big team, and it’ll be nice to play at varsity.”

Image: Ysabel Wagland, Alice Bennett and Isabelle Scott.

Cleo Moseley is a fourth-year MSc student studying Crime, Justice & Psychology, and is also the Club Captain for Cheer & Stunt (@uolcheer on Instagram). Her interests include sport, fitness & true crime. 

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