As the end of the semester nears a close, the two court sports of basketball and netball have shone as two of the most successful so far. A cynic would perhaps suggest that the dreary weather in Manchester has given indoor sports somewhat of an advantage over their personal rivals within the University’s Athletic Union, yet what a gross disservice this would do to the outstanding hard work, commitment and attitude it takes to even compete in the highly competitive BUCS, let alone parade in their respective leagues as unbeaten.
A closer look at the remarkable feats these two clubs have achieved and notable player performances which have helped these clubs to perform so successfully so far shows a wealth of talent, as well as an ever valuable winning mentality at the university.
Netball could, first and foremost, be praised for the sheer size of their club, amassing and consolidating six teams for competition in BUCS. With only five returning players this year, a special mention has to be given to the 25 raring freshers who have joined and become the core of the club in such a short space of time. With a look down the six teams, the firsts compete in the Northern Premier League, competing against the likes of Loughborough firsts and therefore clearly doing very well at third in the table. This has been no doubt down to the defensive efforts of Honor De Wintion and Claudia Payne. Last weekend the firsts competed in Red Bull’s Switch Up tournament. With an altered format allowing fast paced games, the team excelled. They raced through the group stage and semi-final with ease to set up a varsity showdown with Man Met, where they would later be crowned the first ever Switch Up champions in a 6-4 win.
The seconds are also performing well as they have reached the last sixteen of the Conference Cup having already knocked out two teams, whilst boasting four wins already this year. A scoring average of 95 per cent for fresher Olivia Leach demonstrates the remarkable talent not just within the Netball club but even within the University. Perhaps the best performing team within the club is the thirds. Having only won two of their games last year, to come out this term and remain undefeated at the top of the league is outstanding.
Fresher Hannah Coward has been the standout performer for them, being awarded Player’s Player on two different occasions and even three times from other teams. It should be mentioned that thirds are also through to the last 16 of the Conference Cup having defeated two previous teams. The fifths are also currently top of their league with four out of four wins and through to the Last sixteen of the Conference Plate so we should be seeing more sterling results from them. For the thirds, their first showing in the BUCS after playing campus league last year further demonstrates the remarkable winning mentality within the Netball Club. They are also currently top of their league Northern 9A, with four wins out of four.
But what should be highlighted is the sheer goal difference they have accumulated: 193 goals with the next best team’s being 86. First year shooters Fay Hully and Becca Titterington have definitely shown class in the shooting department. An outstanding showing across the board for netball can only be further exemplified by the fact all teams achieved victories in the same week in late October.
Basketball have had a similarly remarkable showing so far this term. The men’s first team are currently undefeated in their league and have their biggest game of the season so far away against Chester coming up next Wednesday. Chester are also undefeated and so a win there would promote their credentials as the best in the league. Some notable standout performers have been Tadgh and Cain O’Hickey, twins who have arrived at UoM this year from Ireland. Renfei ‘Jo’ from China has also been a fantastic addition to the squad and Coach Wayne is optimistic about their chance for promotion this year.
For the women, Sonia Lei and new American exchange arrival Sierra Schwellenbach have been standout. The Women also remain undefeated after recently beating Keele and again, this demonstrates the sure winning mentality within the club. The men’s second team have shown great spirit in rallying to win in overtime against Newcastle seconds in the first round of the cup before they were drawn against our firsts in the next round. The clubs only loss so far has come in a closely fought match for the seconds played against Lancaster firsts, and so this has little negative impact on the winning nature of the club. Captain Meirin Evans has come up with big three point shots to seal the win in multiple games, whilst new Turkish point guard Yeler has shown fantastic potential. All three teams are still gunning for promotion at the end of this season and so with very little to be disheartened about so far this term, basketball have become one of the standout clubs in the University.
For that matter, both clubs have little to be disheartened about. With numerous undefeated records, league leaders and talented individuals to boast about, basketball and netball can surely stake a claim to take the crown at the university so far this term.