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Sport and mental health: a catch up with Katie!

Katy Daglish is a 3rd year student studying Sport and Exercise Science and has been a member of the EULC since she was a fresher. Katy was one of four social secs last year and having loved her experience on committee, she decided to step up to the role of Club Captain this year alongside Lewis. Katy has played for the Ladies 2s for two years and has also loved participating in monthly mixed tournaments and weekly social events. Lacrosse is one of Exeter’s focus sports and has an outstanding performance reputation and offers equally fantastic social and charitable experiences throughout the year. Coming to the end of her time as Club Captain one of our publicity officers Gigi has interviewed her about her relationship with sport, how this has changed her time at Exeter, the impact of sport on mental health and her campaign to run as AU president this coming year!

Can you tell us about your history with sport?

Sport has defined my experiences throughout life - at schools I’ve been to, my time on my gap year and most recently at university. It has been the foundations of so many friendships and has opened a number of doors for me along the way. In my time, I’ve been fortunate enough to represent the Scottish Lacrosse team, however some of my favourite sporting experiences have been with school and university teams. I think that just goes to show that whatever standard you choose to play at, your experiences are always elite.

What does sport mean to you?

Sport really has shaped me as a person. As a child, I was always quiet in the classroom, yet on the sports field I was suddenly one of the loudest members of the team. The sense of cohesion I felt on the pitch soon became the normality outside of sport, providing me with a strong sense of belonging. Sport has done huge amounts my confidence and noticeable lifts my mood whenever I participate.

How do you think sport can affect or improve mental health?

Positive correlations between sport and improved mental wellbeing have been well established since being physically active is associated with improved mood and decreased depression, anxiety and stress - emotions which can be too common at university. Sport can help people’s mental health hugely, and this is something that I’ve been looking into a lot this year. I’m currently working to provide wellbeing workshops to increase participation in sport, since the associated benefits are so profound. I want to help promote and educate students about positive mental health and confidence, and to reduce the negative stereotypes associated with different sports, which would increase participation hugely.

What has your time competing for Exeter sport meant for you?

My three years playing sport for Exeter have been a bit of a rollercoaster. I remember wearing my uni kit for the first time and being surrounded by a team I hardly knew, before absolutely smashing Bath in our first match. Then, after a year and a half of training, competing and of course, socialising religiously every Wednesday, our last match representing Exeter (unbeknown to us at the time) took us to the BUCS final. The final was cancelled due to COVID but regardless, our moral as a team was second to none and the memories leading up to it are irreplaceable.

As lacrosse president what has been challenging about the role and have you

learnt anything?

As a club, we were fortunate enough to be able to run taster sessions and train for a few weeks at the start of the year before lockdown. One of the hardest parts of the role was having to limit the numbers that could participate at times, due to government guidelines. After speaking to freshers at taster sessions, it became apparent that sport was one of the few opportunities they had to meet people, so having to announce that we could no longer play was tough. At times, I found it challenging to motivate the club and help freshers to get more involved when everything was virtual. However, our social secs have done a fantastic job at organising different virtual events, and they’ve really demonstrated that with enough enthusiasm and encouragement, a lot can be achieved. I’ve learnt that when you can’t speak to people in person, reaching out to individuals, instead of just posting on whole club platforms, creates a much greater sense of inclusion.

What advice would you give to students at the university wanting to get more involved with sport?

In short, I simply I cannot recommend getting involved in any sport enough. When it comes to being part of a team, there is room for absolutely everyone. Whether you’re a complete beginner, apprehensive about playing or from a seemingly different background, when you’re playing as part of a team you become the same person. In my opinion playing sport is one of the easiest ways for friendships to form, and I’d recommend that every student gets involved as much as possible.

Why are you applying to be AU president and what are you going to bring/change?

As club captain this year, a lot of my goals, particularly to increase sports participation, had to be put on hold due to COVID. The windows of opportunities I got at the start of the year to provide supportive and inclusive taster sessions were highly rewarding. I’d love the opportunity to work towards doing this on a much larger scale, for all AU clubs and guild sports societies. I want to provide more students with different opportunities to participate in sport, but most importantly I want to communicate this to them even more. As AU pres, I’d make sure that myself, club captains and members of the guild reached out to students more, to ensure that anyone unsure about approaching us first feels welcomed into our community immediately.

Katy Daglish interviewed by Gigi Sage

Many thanks to Katie Daglish for agreeing to be interviewed, connecting Nightline with Sport.


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