On 3rd September the sports centre opened for preseason training. It is the 5th year that the Atheltic Union has run this week, and 2012’s success has been unbridled, with over 520 students from 23 sports choosing to come back early to ensure that they are in ideal shape to take on the upcoming university sports season.
Usually, if as a returning student you choose to return before Freshers Week in order to settle in to a new flat, sort out electricity bills and internet connections, and generally remember where everything goes, you would find St Andrews relatively empty of students.
This year however, the town has been flooded with students adorned in blue University of St Andrews tracksuits, wielding shinty sticks, football boots, and frisbees that can only be, to the trained eye, ultimate.
For many sportsmen and women, Freshers Week has had to be combined with a return to physical excercise for the first time in months, and the expanding student bodies have had switch from internships spent behind desks, and dragging gradually lighter and lighter rucksacks round South East Asia for treadmills and weights sessions.
The introduction of the Preseason Week has proved hugely successful, allowing the University’s top performers to find form before the term begins in earnest.
Emily Griffiths, the new AU president, is particularly delighted with the way the week has gone. “It’s the most people we’ve ever had back; it’s a week before Freshers Week, which in turn has been moved back a week due to the change in term dates, so it was really impressive to have all the students back committed and working hard for the week.”
Affiliated sports run their own training routines, but also benefit from the general conditioning programme put on by the AU which are accessible to all the clubs, and they have included spin cycling, yoga, ‘Boot Camp’, and even zumba. Specialist coaches allow the clubs to tailor their practices to their own individual needs so that everyone can “get off on the right foot”.
According to sources close to the side, for some of the football team, this has been quite a shock to the system, as the early focus has switched from ball skills to fitness levels, all under the discerning eye of Director of Football, Stuart Milne.
Alongside the training, many clubs have been running preseason friendlies, and the football club have even started their competitive season in the Fife League. The 1st XV rugby side have racked up wins already his season over Hillside, Mackie, and Ellon, full reports of which can be read on our website.
It hasn’t been all hard work though. The Saint witnessed first-hand what some of the clubs can do on the dance floor. The newly-refurbished Lizard Lounge has had a fine christening from most of the teams, although to our knowledge, the dubiously-named “VIP Area” has yet to be populated by anyone other than the bouncers. It is certainly a good omen for the much-maligned Wednesday nights at the Union, when sportsmen and normals are able to mix so freely.
It is a also a credit to the Sports Centre that they are able to facilitate such numbers of students so early on in the semester, and when the new floodlit 3G pitch inside the athletics track has been opened, which has been guarenteed for November 9th by the President herself, the Centre’s facilities will begin to look even more like the world class complex which has attracted Manchester United FC, Barcalona CF, Everton FC, the Scottish national rugby team, and on a regular basis, Dundee United FC in recent years.
The President has also assured The Saint that the rocky road which currently runs from the car park to the track will be gone once construction is complete.
The University of St Andrews’ athletes may never have been better prepared for a season. The general public might often greet the AU with an element of apathy, but if preseason is anything to go by, success may become a habit; inspire a generation, Saints Sport.