Emily Elmitt, 1st team captain, and Kirsty Coates, 2nd team Co-Captain, from Women’s Lacrosse speak to Nick Powell, Print Sport Editor, about the rise of their club.
The interview starts as it always does for me, frantic, unprepared, and searching for somewhere to be able to conduct it in peace and quiet.
Part of the reason I am so frantic is because these two have been a major part of a club that hits exceptionally high standards over recent seasons, and is one of the fastest growing in the university.
From being a club with three BUCS teams around six years ago, Exeter University Lacrosse Club (EULC) now has six BUCS women’s teams and three men’s sides, and in that time has one their maiden Premier South titles in both the women’s and men’s game.
“It’s a lot more accessible [now],” says Elmitt, first-team captain “For girls, it used to be invitation only and now it’s just reached out beyond that. I think at trials this year there were 170 girls, when there’s usually about 40.”
The largest mixed Lacrosse club across the UK appears incredibly accommodating. “Word is going out that you don’t have to [have] played lacrosse to join the club,” second team co-captain Coates points out, “There’s mixed lacrosse where everyone can get involved…it feels like one club”
“It’s a super-friendly club, I think we’re so lucky. We could have been in some horrible club where your forced to [do things],” adds Emlitt “you turn up at social, everyone grabs a drink, everyone has a dance, everyone chats to everyone. It’s not just at social but around campus if you see anyone from the club, you say hello to them.”
“That transfers to the pitch, we’re all friends with each other which makes a massive difference.”
And though Exeter is a great, friendly club to be involved in, the standards have never been higher. When asked what the ambitions for this season were, Emlitt doesn’t hesitate before saying “BUCS gold, surely?” as if I shouldn’t have asked the question, confirmed by Coates nodding in agreement.
Coates herself has high hopes too, with the 2s in a higher league than they’ve ever been. “It’ll be nice to have more competitive matches before we even get into the trophy rounds, so…we [can see how we] do in that competitive environment”
Thanks to the 4s success, now each of the teams at the club are in the highest Leagues they’ve ever been in (or could possibly be in). The 5s are in a League which, excluding them, is made up entirely of first and second teams.
“To be able to play to a high standard [is really important]” says Emlitt, going as far as to say “I wouldn’t play if I didn’t think the standard was good enough. I hate rubbish sport, it pains me.” Coates nods along in agreement.
“You’re testing yourself and noticing yourself improving from first to third year. In the 1s and certainly the 2s as well, [a lot] wouldn’t play if they didn’t think it was worth their time. It’s good to lose as well, to have a tough game, to lose by a goal, even though it’s a bit depressing, you’re learning from it. Obviously you’re here to get a degree, but a lot of people have come here to play Lacrosse.”
So how can numbers and desire be transferred into BUCS dominance? “From the Women’s side there is such a high standard across the board, so that should boost the club as a whole.” Coates responds.
“In my first year there were only two freshers that went to pre-season…this year there were 18.” Elmitt adds “This year the standard has increased massively.” Coates nods in agreement.
“There’s normally such a drop off between each team, whereas this year we’re all quite even,” she continues “there are 5s girls going up to the 3s. There are [already] three 2s girls that have moved up to the 1s.” Elmitt mentions.
Exeter is “definitely” attracting girls for lacrosse now, they both say simultaneously. “A lot of the freshers have come in and said that” according to Coates.
Liv Thomas, England international and Vice-Captain, has also been a part of that, but although neither doubts her quality or positive contribution, you cannot base a team around one player.
“It’s great that we have people representing England and [in other instances] Wales, but I’d say [our good start] is more about the team wanting to play well for each other rather than one girl raising the standard.” Emlitt says, before Coates adds “That’s the thing about lacrosse as well…you can have all these really good individuals but if you don’t play well as a team or mesh right you’re not going to do that well.”
“It was the third years last year who helped everyone improve their standard.” And have the ones got many of them this year? “Erm, no,” Emlitt replies bluntly before raising a smile, “There are two of us this year, who are solid starting players from third year…we lost eight players last year,” she says with a hint of pain in her voice.
But despite the young team, she remains optimistic of success this year.
Next week, the 1s and 2s play their first home game and first game proper of the season respectively. Will they win? “Absolutely.”
With a strong, young team at the top of the club, as well as quality throughout, this sure to be an exciting season for EULC. A 25-3 away hammering of Cardiff in round one couldn’t have been a better way to start as they look to secure a first ever BUCS Gold Title.