On Friday the 14th of November, two hundred members of the Oxford sporting community gathered on the Rugby Club grounds for the 12th Oxford University Sports Federation Awards. Kindly supported by BP, Nike, Kitlocker, and Walters of Oxford, the evening was a chance to look back at the achievements of the previous academic year – not just highlighting those people who had had outstanding years in their chosen sports, but also the coaches and teammates who had made considerable contributions to their clubs and Oxford sport on a wider level.
The evening was hosted by current Sports Federation President Tom Carver, and the first award of the evening, the Cuppers Trophy, was presented by last year’s OUSF President Madeleine Sava. Calculated by awarding 5 points for a win, and 3 points for a second place finish in a cuppers event, Worcester College were announced the winners of this year’s Cuppers Trophy, with wins in cross country, netball, and triathlon, to name just a few. Seven other awards were presented over the course of the evening, with each having several impressive nominees, any of whom could have won each award.
Atlanta’s Teammate of the Year – Marisa Schubert, Swimming:
This award recognises an important aspect of team sport that can often go unrecognised – commitment to one’s sport and one’s teammates, a positive attitude in one’s approach to all aspects of sporting life, belief in oneself and others, an ability to motivate and lead, and a selfless attitude. Throughout the past year, Marisa was committed not only to her own club in the huge amount of work she put in behind the scenes to keep things running, but across different clubs that shared her discipline. There are numerous individual reports of her giving up her time to help athletes progress, giving individual coaching and guidance to anyone who approached her, and generally being an integral part of team life. Her encouraging and supportive attitude not only helped her team, but also drove her on to have a hugely successful year individually. She competed at Varsity, and then went on to become the first female Oxford undergraduate to swim the channel.
Vincent’s Norman Bryce Smiley Trophy winner – Alex Fraser, Modern Pentathlon:
The Norman Bryce Smiley Trophy is awarded to a sportsperson who displays the characteristics most valued by Norman Smiley – humility in one’s success, morality in one’s ambition, pride in one’s ability, and willingness to add value to one’s surroundings. Both on and off the field, Alex more than met these requirements for the award. Over the course of their time at Oxford he has contributed not only to their club in a significant way, but to the community here as a whole. He is not only a talented sportsman – winning BUCS in 2011 and 2012, then coming second in 2013 and 2014, but he involves himself in almost every facet of sport at the university. There seem to be few aspects of Oxford sport that he is not involved in – he chairs the Men’s Blues Committee, he is Vincent’s secretary, and also sits on the Sports Federation Executive Committee.
BP Coach of the Year – Dave Mace, Boxing:
Dave has been with the club for many years, consistently delivering an exceptional level of coaching to everyone who he has contact with. In a club that attracts members who are, by and large, novices to the sport, he is constantly faced with introducing people to a sport which he is so familiar with – a task that requires not only a great deal of patience, but also a great love for the sport. His concern for the welfare of each individual, and his interest in them developing and performing to the best of their ability is evidenced in his numerous one-on-one training sessions in the run ups to competitions. His dedication to detail and technical training has allowed the club to flourish over the past few years, and particularly this year in relation to the women’s side of the club. He was instrumental in the club’s achievement this year – finally taking the lead in their Varsity, as they won in one of the most exciting boxing matches in recent years with an emphatic 7-2 victory over Cambridge.
Team Performance of the Year – Fencing Men’s 2nds:
This award is given to competitive teams, and can be awarded to any distinct team within a club, from Women’s Blues to Men’s 3rds. It is primarily judged on achievement – top performances in BUCS or other major events, dramatic improvements over the course of a year, or a fantastic run of victories. This year was one of the fencing 2nds’ most successful years, fantastic performances across all their fixtures left them with an incredible track record at the end of the season. In their regular BUCS season they performed well, gaining promotion at the end of the year, and in the knockout stages went right through to win the Conference Cup final against Staffordshire. Perhaps the most notable feature of the season was their win against UEA. Three men travelled to face a strong side which boasted the full complement of 9 fencers, and being so shorthanded, each Oxford fencer fought in each of the 3 disciplines – a feat known as ‘ironmanning’, and won the match – just one of their victories in an exceptional unbeaten season.
OUsportshop Club of the Year – Women’s Rugby:
The contribution to the University and the community, whether through club growth or development, outreach projects, or other activities both on and off the pitch, is recognised in this award. Women’s Rugby suffered considerable setbacks at the start of last year – a significant financial deficit, a huge loss of players from the previous year, and injuries left right and centre. However, rather than folding or simply leaving the problem to be solved by next year’s committee, an option which can be tempting, the club pulled together to address the problems. Their floodlights campaign, combined with the creation of and huge sales drive behind a calendar, not only overcame the financial difficulties they had been experiencing, but allowed them to develop massively to prepare for the current season. The effort and dedication which they put behind developing the club made them worthy recipients of this year’s Club of the Year award.
Walter’s Sportsman of the Year – Ross Haines, Cricket:
Ross was the centre of a particularly memorable varsity match, putting on a performance that arguably carried the rest of the team to their Varsity win. Those who were there on the day hailed it as one of the greatest varsity performances in the history of the match, and looking at the specifics of day we can only agree. The day had started well for Oxford – the Dark Blues had kept the Cambridge batting line up to 177 all out. However, Cambridge took a wicket in the first over, and Oxford was eventually left at 82-7. With Oxford crawling forwards, 118-8, and then 137 for 9, Ross stepped up and played one of the greatest varsity innings of all time. He hit 61 not out from 44 balls, hitting a six in the final over to win the match.
BP Sportswoman of the Year – Sophia Saller, Triathlon:
Tremendously hardworking, last season was without doubt Sophia’s breakthrough, seeing her compete as a senior at the international level for the first time. Her work ethic is most evident in the balance that she found last year between her academic commitments and her sporting ambitions. Only a few days after completing her finals, she competed at the European Elite Senior Triathlon Championships, where she won silver. This was a year which saw her also win the Varsity Duathlon, win silver at the BUCS Duathlon, and in which she was crowned the World U23 Elite Triathlon Champion.
Not only did she compete in and achieve fantastic results in a number of European and World Cup races, but she contributed to sporting life at Oxford at the same time. She regularly attended sessions with the triathlon club, the cross country club, the swimming club, and was the Women’s Triathlon Captain.
The Sports Federation would like to thank everyone who attended, and those who contributed to the evening – first, the official Sports Federation sponsors, BP, who also sponsored two of the evening’s awards. Also, Walters of Oxford, Nike, Kitlocker, Atlantas and Vincents Club, without whom the night would not have happened. Our thanks too to Tim Stevens of the Rugby Club, who was a great help in organising the whole event.