Each year, several William Jewell College students travel to Oxford as part of the Oxbridge Honors Program. They attend various colleges within the university to learn, explore and get involved. In addition to academics, many Oxbridgers play a sport at the university. This year, Emily Dema, junior Oxbridge Molecular Biology and Applied Critical Thought and Inquiry (ACT-IN) major, Zak Carroll, junior Oxbridge Institutions and Policies and international relations Major, Taylor Tummons, junior Oxbridge Institutions and Policy and communication major, Harper Vincent, junior Oxbridge History of Ideas and English major and Emily Hicks, junior Oxbridge Institutions and Policy, international relations, and ACT-IN major, are involved in Oxford athletics. Dema plays soccer (British football), Carroll and Tummons play American football, Vincent plays polo and Hicks is on the rowing team at Regent’s Park College.
Athletics at Oxford have a different structure than sports in the U.S. Oxford comprises 38 colleges, and each college has various teams. College teams play against other teams within the university system. Almost anyone interested in playing is allowed to join a college team. There are also university (uni) teams that are far more competitive than college teams. Some sports, like rowing, are more intense, even on the college level. The most popular sports at Oxford are rowing, soccer and rugby, yet the wide range of sports offered include Quidditch and Korfball.
Carroll and Tummons are on the uni American football team.
“[B]ecause of the scant number of American football players, the team is pretty open to all who are interested,” Carroll said. “[T]he team is equal opportunity, so it is open to females. Last year one of our star cornerbacks was a girl; this year one of our running backs is [female].”
He also said that the atmosphere of the sport is very different than in the U.S. because his coaches act more as advisors and supporters than American coaches, and the training is far less intense than in the States.
“[I]t is cool to see that there is a core group of people who are dedicated football followers,” Carroll said. “Usually, our team has a few Americans each year who know the game and fit in well and a few rugby players who fit in quite nicely once they are taught the basics of the game.”
Other than the sub-prime weather and muddy field, Carroll has loved his experience playing for the Oxford team.
Dema plays soccer for St Catherine’s College. Her team is undefeated thus far, and there is a wide range of skill and experience. Some girls are really good. She attributes their undefeated record to these players. Others have not played in years. She personally has not played since kindergarten, which she attributes to her family. Her team doesn’t practice very often, but they eat together in the formal hall sometimes.
“Playing on a sports team is definitely a good way to get to know some of the matriculated students at my college,” Dema said. “I’m having a lot of fun being part of the team.”
Vincent plays polo on the uni polo team. She explained her experience in reference to the options and resources Oxford affords her.
“Normally, polo is a very expensive sport, but one that I’ve always wanted to play, as a long-time rider. Oxford’s resources allow me to get to play a really exciting and unusual sport for a fraction of the expense it would be to join an actual polo club somewhere in the [S]tates,” Vincent said.
The experience has been an amazing way for her to meet other students.
“Even if [I] never [play] again, at least [I] got to play… in Oxford on some of the best polo ponies in the U.K., which is really pretty awesome,” she said.