With squads that mainly consist of players who had never played the game before university, DSU’s lacrosse sides are often playing catch-up in the early stages of their season, taking on universities with players of greater experience.
By March, however, they have had almost a full season to get up to speed, standing them in good stead for their upcoming Varsity fixtures, and despite still being the underdogs they are relishing the chance to cause an upset against their cross-city rivals.
Jack Hawkins, lacrosse chairman, said: “Even though we’re massive underdogs, it’s always a brilliant game, especially because by the end of the years everyone’s at a decent level.”
With Varsity now less than a month away, Jack said that training is starting to intensify, and preparations are really starting to take shape.
He said: “We’ve got a new men’s coach, a very good coach, who played for 10 years, in two World Championships, so having him has been absolutely massive. Already over just one month there’s been a massive improvement.
“He’s been fantastic to have, as before that we were coaching ourselves.
“The women’s team have had a coach all year, been playing friendlies and had a development tournament, and have more friendlies coming up before their Varsity game.”
He continued: “We’ve started doing extra training sessions to really speed things up, trying to get everyone to do more fitness.
“It’s about getting in as much game time and training in to prepare ourselves. We want to know we’ve given ourselves the best chance that we can, even though we’re going to be the underdogs.”
Jack said that although players were starting to see the improvements in their games and fitness, perhaps the biggest problem facing his squads at the moment is having a full side to pick from, and that is why they are holding a taster session at Bede Park on Wednesday February 17, in the afternoon, where all are welcome.
He added: “For the most part we’re doing alright, fitness isn’t too bad, at the moment. We’ve got decent facilities and coaching, it’s just the people coming in.
“We’re constantly recruiting. The biggest problem is getting people in to a sport that most have never heard of before.”
With this being his third and final year here at DMU, Jack, who studies English and Journalism, is hoping Varsity can serve as a perfect farewell for him as his time at university draws to a close, though knows that winning will be down in no small part to hard work.
He said: “It would be one heck of a send off for me as it will be my last game for DMU. It would be amazing if we pulled it off, but it would only be through the hard work that we’ve put in.
“It will be a massive upset for us to come out with anything – but you’ve seen it happen before.
“In football you see a tiny little team catch a big team off-guard. They go into it with the mindset of ‘oh, it will be easy’, so hopefully we can catch them out.”
With scores of people attending games across each and every sport, Jack believes that the atmosphere around Varsity, and the rivalry between the city-sharing universities, makes for some keenly-contested fixtures and manic crowds.
“The games are always so much more important and everyone’s performing to such a high level, they put everything into it, and it’s nice to have a bit of rivalry,” said Jack.
“It’s always so much more exciting than the usual games. Usually when we play we don’t have much of a crowd, but when we get to Varsity loads of people are there cheering.
“It makes things feel like everything’s just one step higher, just playing in games where there’s a big crowd makes you play that little bit harder.
“And being in the crowd, cheering on your own teams, is always a good feeling. Especially when they’re winning! Hopefully we can do well this year overall.
“The whole spirit of it is pretty amazing.”
And Jack’s final message to his fellow Demons?
“Let’s put Leicester in their place! Their arrogance needs to be stopped.”
Both men’s and women’s lacrosse games take place at Stoughton Road on Saturday 12 March between 2:00pm and 4:00pm. Click here for the full list of Varsity fixtures and get behind #TeamDMU.