A love letter to College Mixed Lacrosse

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The weekend rolls around. You took it too far on your Friday night, instantly regretting liking that Facebook Messenger group chat post as you wake up to your obnoxious alarm or, if you are running particularly late, a phone call from a friend. 10:00am, Pitch One, ready to warm up at quarter to – what were you thinking?

The snooze button goes off again, you roll out of bed and fumble for your armour – anything college coloured will do. Half asleep, you grab the essentials: mouth guard, stick and football boots.

About to step out the door, you run back to take the googles – it’s a vicious world out there on the pitch and you don’t fancy another team member taking an eye injury again.

As you step outside, the fresh air revitalises you. You’re ready. Slowly, you trudge down to Maiden Castle, gathering your pals en route. The energy builds as you revive yourself and the hangover begins to be cured. Excitement bubbles up as you feel the competitive edge within you grow, hungry for some friendly competition this Saturday morning.

Eventually, you arrive down at the pitch and somehow you’ve pulled a team together. The tunes go on, volume high, boots laced up and weapon (sorry, stick) at the ready. It’s time.

It’s a vicious world out there on the pitch

Our co-presidents step up to their role, dishing out an inspiring team talk and order some attempt at a warm-up to take place. Us girls tend to know what we’re doing; the classic pregame rituals we’ve been undertaking since our lacrosse careers were born begin to occur, leaving the boys to follow behind us and attempt a comical compilation of dynamic stretches and movements.

The umpire blows their whistle. Five minutes till the match begins. “Line drill time”, our captain calls. Shambolically, we shuffle into something that mildly resembles the exercise required and balls begin flying around as sticks lunge into the air at attempts to catch the array of yellow bullets.

The hand to eye co-ordination may not be there for all involved, but the chat is always at a high. Laughing, shouting and the classic “Ah, almost!” (even when the ball was miles off) creates an atmosphere unlike no other that can’t fail to put a smile on everyone’s faces.

Undoubtedly, by now, I’ve reminded at least three of the boys that I am in fact five foot four, not six foot four like the rest of them, so cannot possibly reach that high flying ball they just aimed a good 40 inches above my head.

Another whistle goes: it’s time. After a quick cheer and starting line-up decided, we strut on, game face ready. As I take my place in the mud bath of a pitch, usually unable to see any sort of lines and pitch markings, I eye up my opponent…a six foot plus, hockey looking player. Classic. The draw takes place, and the match begins.

Providing the fun, friends and bruises, mixed lacrosse will forever have a special place in my heart

40 minutes of absolute chaos occurs. Often looking more like a game of hockey or even rugby at times, rather than lacrosse, and lucky if we can string together more than three passes before the ball gets intercepted and fervently catapulted down to the other side of the pitch, the fun begins.

An array of six-foot blokes taking on five-foot something females, spurred on by their scent of DU Women’s Lax superiority and healthy competition, dominate the pitch. It is simply not a college mixed lacrosse match until there are multiple falls, barges and illegal checks left, right and centre. That’s all part of its beauty.

Off the pitch, just as much chaos and fun exists as socials also play a crucial part in making college sport such a core part of your Durham University experience. From dressing up as minions and running round the college bars to being tied to a fresher and doing ridiculous challenges with one less limb, there truly is nothing else like it.

Providing the fun, friends and bruises, mixed lacrosse will forever have a special place in my heart and has kept my love of the sport alive through its chilled out, social environment. So, for anyone considering joining a society, choose college sport and check out your mixed lacrosse team for a guaranteed good time both on and off the pitch.

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