Friendships forged on and off the field have contributed to lasting memories for two Gonville & Caius students who are leading the Cambridge University Hockey Club into Varsity this term.
Sam Pritchard (Medicine 2019) is the men’s second team captain, co-club captain and women’s fourth team coach. In Easter Term he also plays cricket for the University. Alice Hunt (Classics 2020) is the women’s second team captain.
While both had a disrupted early participation in sport at Cambridge due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they are now fully immersed in the sporting and accompanying social side which has created tight bonds they hope will help in competition.
Six Varsity hockey matches with Oxford take place at the Wilberforce Road Sports Ground on Sunday 19 February, with the Blues matches at Southgate Hockey Club on Sunday 12 March.
“You can forge really strong friendships through the club and we support each other in every respect,” Alice says.
“That’s what makes it so enjoyable and the core of the club. We spend a lot of time together in the week. Sometimes we might have a big away day on a Wednesday, travelling, and weekend matches.
“There’s a big emphasis on inclusion and welcoming new players. We have lots of socials to get to know each other on and off the pitch.”
Sam adds: “There’s a sense everyone knows each other and gets on well with each other.”
To any prospective Cambridge students who wish to play hockey, Alice and Sam advise following the club on social media to find out about pre-season training. The training provides the opportunity to have a head start, meeting people across the collegiate university with a shared interest prior to Michaelmas Term.
Alice matriculated in October 2020, with pandemic restrictions hampering hockey, among so many other things. But subsequently she has made the most of her membership of the club.
“I know that my University experience would be so different and not as full if I didn’t play university hockey,” the midfielder adds.
“Some universities have separate men’s and women’s hockey clubs, but to have one large one is great. I have friends across all the teams. I think it is quite special how integrated it is as well.”
Some friendships may have been tested this term, when selection for Varsity has been at stake.
Sam, who plays in central defence, adds: “Selection is tough. It nags away at you during the season. Ultimately it’s about picking the 16 players who you feel can beat Oxford.
“Last year the seconds match went to penalty shuffles and it was an agonising loss. Amongst the guys in our team who played that game there’s a sense we need to get revenge!”
Alice adds: “Once selection has happened it’s a nice fun run up to Varsity, where the hockey ramps up, but so does everyone’s drive to win. There’s a very strong desire to get the win.
“It’s a brilliant day as a club. 'The whole club comes together and commiserates or celebrates together.”