Bouncing Back – Ten Cambridge sport societies post-Covid

Online pole dancing, flying, karate, and a mysterious game from continental Europe…

How do you practice sports when studios and indoor courts are closed, your team size exceeds the COVID regulations, and your members are scattered all over the world?

We interviewed ten sporting societies about their COVID experiences and how they plan to bounce back in Michaelmas with renewed grace, energy, and teamwork.

1) CU Powerlifting Club

This highly decorated club (whose accomplishments including beating Oxf*rd at Varsity nine years in a row) is far from male-dominated.

Samin MoghimiAsl, club president, details how the club is committed to encouraging women and non-binary engagement through their women and non-binary taster sessions.

(Photo credits: Aoife Clark)

Club membership provides weekly team training sessions, various workshops, a nutrition seminar, free physiotherapy session, discounted sport massages, and a Development Squad. Look out for them at the Freshers’ Fair and Sports’ Fair and keep an eye on their Instagram, Facebook, and website!

2) CU Pole Sports

Vice president Eve Caracas shares that although people have powerful preconceptions that link pole sports with stripping, pole isn’t inherently sexual but first and foremost “an art and such a display of strength and grace.”

Before COVID, classes were “constantly booked up,” especially the beginner sessions. They’d usually have a couple people to a pole which created a lovely community (often literally) supporting each other!

(Photo credits: Kate Barber)

Eve shares that, during lockdowns, it was “so strange to have a society that’s so physical and hands on suddenly be entirely online.” They’re excited to be back up and running in Michaelmas with a wide range of classes, swaps, socials, and perhaps even showcases.

Eve also adds that although the requirement of minimal clothing (so you can stick to the pole) often concerns people, the society is open to all, very welcoming, and “huge in bringing confidence”.

Class times, prices, and FAQs can be found on their website.

3) New Thundercatz Ultimate and Strange Blue Ultimate

What makes Ultimate Frisbee unique is  that the game essentially rewards you for having good vibes in the form of ‘spirit points’ for being agreeable and demonstrating fair play.

Camille , captain of the New Thundercatz (an intercollegiate Ultimate Frisbee team targeted at those who want a more fun and low pressure playing experience than the university team Strange Blue) shares that although the lockdowns tore out a large chunk of the previous year, they’re excited to bounce back.

(Photo credits: New Thundercatz Ultimate on Instagram)

In exciting stash news, they’ve been preparing custom tops and custom discs that Camille declares will have them “resplendent, matching, and ready to take the pitch by storm!” Look out for their taster sessions in Freshers week and keep an eye on their Instagram.

Interested in more serious and competitive disc yeeting? Check out the Thundercatz’s older, higher-achieving cousin Strange Blue Ultimate on Instagram! They’ve also released this video detailing what the wondrous sport of Ultimate Frisbee is all about.

4) CU Karate Club

Publicity officer Maeve Brittle told us that the CU Karate Club is a very large, successful, and sociable club that adapted to COVID via Zoom pub trips, online quizzes, outdoor training (in parks and fields), and bookings at reduced capacity.

(Photo credits: Maeve Brittle)

While they will be adhering to room capacity restrictions, they’re excited to train as normally as possible in Michaelmas and will be holding regular socials (including non-alcohol based ones) with “classic traditions such as the Belt Social hopefully making a comeback.”

Maeve’s main message for freshers would be that “it doesn’t matter what skill level you are when you join” as there are amazing opportunities for development. Keep an eye on their Instagram and website.

5) Cambridge Cougars (cheerleading)

Communications officer Minnie Greaves shares that “Cheer is a great place to meet like-minded and friendly people at a time that many people can find daunting. No prior experience is required, just enthusiasm and a smile!”

Although people might harbour the misconception that cheerleading has to be for a specific sporting team, this is far from the case. The Cougars cheerlead competitively against other teams and don’t just perform on the sidelines.

(Photo credits: Cambridge Cougars on Facebook)

The team adapted to COVID by switching their training and strength/conditioning sessions to Zoom and by having virtual social events such as cocktail making and welfare drop-ins.

Look out for updates on their Instagram, try-outs and tasters in Michaelmas, and their interactive stall at the Freshers’ Fair! They’ll be holding competitions and showcases in Lent and more relaxed cuppers and events like ‘Bring a Friend to Cheer’ in Easter.

6) CU Dancesport Team

The biggest challenge faced during COVID by the university’s Ballroom and Latin competition team is how deeply both these dance forms rely on close contact with a partner.

Co-captain Grace Palfreman shares that moving to an online format led to some hilarious and heart-warming moments– an increased focus on technique and solo dancing saw team members dancing in carparks, fields, and cowsheds across the country.

(Photo credits: CU Dancesport Team on Facebook)

They’re looking forward to (cautiously) returning to partnered dance and revitalizing the community and competitions. In non-COVID times, the team is very large (around 120 members at different proficiency levels), competes nationally against other universities, and holds demonstrations at May Balls.

Absolutely everyone of any skill level is invited! Freshers demos will be happening at a range of colleges in Freshers’ Week, with (non-competitive) trials on 9th October.

Follow their Instagram, Facebook, and website. You can also email them at [email protected] .

7) CU Medhik Society

Turns out founding a brand new sporting society right in the middle of COVID might be less difficult than you’d think.

The Medhik society, founded in Michaelmas 2020 enables medicine students to meet and take long walks together and operates entirely in the open air. Suleyman Noordeen, president of this innovative society, shared that many members were drawn to  the social aspect of the society in a period of lockdowns.

(Photo credits: Medhik on Facebook)

With other avenues for medics to fraternize (lectures, MedSoc etc.) having limited in-person opportunities, MedHik provided a valuable niche for medics to exercise, fraternize in a way that fit around their study schedule.

They managed to host a “well enjoyed” barbeque at the end of last Easter term and have an exciting line up of new walks this upcoming Michaelmas! Check out their Facebook and look out for them at the Freshers’ Fair.

8) CU Flunkyball Society

Meet another society born in COVID (Michaelmas 2020)! Secretary Krystian Schneyder, who started it with three other friends, shares that it is dedicated to the celebration and practice of the profoundly enigmatic sport Flunkyball.

Besides sharing that it is “a fun game from Continental Europe and Ancient Greece” and “the perfect sport for Covid times because it is most often played outdoors and its’s easy to maintain social distancing,” Krystian remained taciturn about how the sport is played.

(Photo credits: CU Flunkyball Society)

Cryptically, he asserted that a key tenet of the society’s philosophy was that “it’s best if people learn the rules through playing the game.”

(The Tab has discovered that rules to Flunkyball, which involves beer drinking, are easily available on Google but will refrain from linking the webpages.)

The society held its first in-person game in June and will be setting up regular events and tournaments upcoming Michaelmas. Like their Facebook page and come to an event to find out more!

9) CU Badminton Club

As an indoor sport, badminton was impossible for large parts of the pandemic. Publicity officer Rohit Kale shares that when badminton was possible, the club instituted a “carefully planned bubble system” where consistent groups of six would train together.

(Photo credits: CU Badminton Club)

In Michaelmas, much more mixing amongst the club will be permitted– allowing players to socialize and gain experience against varied opponents. They’ll also be looking to resume competitions with other universities.

Look out for the friendly Varsity hosted in Cambridge at the start of October, trial sign-ups opening mid-September, and updates on their Facebook!

10) CU Gliding Club

Looking to try gliding (an exhilarating form of unpowered flight)? Sign up with CUGC and prepare for phenomenal views and steep, soaring turns!

Before COVID, CUGC were running weekly flying sessions, organizing annual expeditions, and progressing members through training until certified to fly solo.

Members in Cambridge over the summer have already resumed flying and the club is looking to restart trial flights (and perhaps a winter expedition!) in Michaelmas.

(Photo credits: CUGC)

The club certainly isn’t cheap– A £120 annual membership provides full facility access (costing £650 without membership) and then members must provide individual payment for flights taken (though at a discounted CUGC rate).

However, club president Harvey Logan shares how it might be worth it– “There’s nothing better after a stressful week of supervisions than to get away from ‘the bubble’, and taking to the sky is 100% the best way of doing that.”

They’ll be running trial flights to recruit new members so look out for them at the Freshers’ Fair! With a glider in tow, they’ll be hard to miss.

These are only a sampling of the many sporting societies Cambridge has to offer. Head over to the Societies Directory and find a diversity of new ways to tone your muscles, let off steam, experiment with new forms, and (most importantly) bond and have fun!

Featured Image Credits: CU Dancesport Team on Facebook, Aoife Clark, CU Gliding Club, Cloé Legrand

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