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Looking back to one of the best weeks of the year at TeamUCL…

We followed Noni, a final year student on UCL Netball’s first team and the club PR Officer, through her varsity experience. Here’s what she had to say:

Varsity is one of the biggest events in the UCL Netball Calendar. It begins when the season starts as just a date to put in the diary, the occasional meme, stories to tell freshers… then gradually becomes an all-consuming fixation and the subject of every other conversation had among our team.

Setting the stage:

One of the downsides of not being a campus uni is that, for most clubs, home matches are played quite a distance away from UCL and the likelihood of having a big home crowd is pretty slim. Although Men’s Basketball have definitely defied those odds this year! For UCL Netball Club this makes Varsity all the more important as it’s one of few matches we get to play in front of a huge crowd and we definitely live for a big show. This year we had Stay Club London sponsor the event. The plan was to make Varsity bigger than ever, bringing in music, snacks, balloons, player intros, half-time games and livestreaming the whole event. We wanted to go full out!

Doing it for the ‘gram:

Part of the fun of Varsity is just how much goes into the build-up. When the posters start appearing in Gordon’s, you know what time it is! As this year’s PR Officer, UCL Netball Club Varsity Promo was quite the operation: organising video recordings, promo shoots (big shout out to Danté for giving us some great photos), meet-the-team bios and boosting ticket sales. The hype definitely got to me and I probably took my job a bit too seriously! Our promo vid ended up having over 4000 views simply due to our whole club’s non-stop self-promotion. What was really amazing though, was seeing the array of different UCL clubs’ promo and interacting with them in my role as PR Officer. A massive shout out to Women’s Football, their promo vid was a masterpiece!

The final countdown

Due to a season unfortunately plagued with injury, from ruptured achilles to glandular fever, training and injury prevention was key. Conditioning sessions with Tiahan (the TeamUCL Performance Coach) took on a new intensity and I became very careful when crossing the road or walking on slippery surfaces. Everyone prepared in their own way, for some it was rest, others alcohol bans, for our President, that meant running a casual half marathon in the week leading up to the big game… but to each their own right! The final stage was a traditional team meal and bonding session, hosted by our lovely president over some slow-cooked lamb and a cheeky baba ganoush. After watching two awesome wins from Women and Men’s Football the night before, we were fuelled and ready!

VDAY: Go hard or go home

For a few years now, the Netball Varsity game had been really close. In 2018, we went to extra time, eventually taking the match by two goals and with the KCL team relatively unchanged, this year was likely to be equally close. Going into the game with so many of our players (myself included) leaving this year and also wanting to go for the three-peat (3 years of back-to-back wins and an undefeated UCL career), losing was not an option. We came out really hard and there was no looking back. I don’t think it was until half-time that I realised by just how much we were up but watching from the defensive end, it was definitely the best I’ve seen our attack play. They made my job pretty easy. Apart from the occasional intercept, I was really just a proud mama standing on court, watching my girls dominate, literally putting shots up from everywhere!  I don’t think I have any favourite highlights from the game (despite the fact that our whole team has re-watched the livestream several times now) but the final score was 54-29, which is definitely one of the biggest Varsity wins in UCNC recent history. With our trophy and bragging rights secured, the only thing that could have made the night better was knowing that our win wrapped up the LVS series for TeamUCL!

Record intact and memories stored, the Varsity baton can officially be passed on. Though I’ll proudly be looking on from the stands next year, I reckon it’s never too early to start talking about #RoadtoVarsity2019!