Northern University Women’s Outdoor Regionals is down in Nottingham this year and will be a battle between Leicester, Sheffield, York, Durham, Nottingham, Lancaster, Loughborough, Newcastle and Leeds. Unfortunately last year’s Regional winners (Huddersfield) aren’t going to be at Outdoor Regionals this year due to lack of women, and neither is Manchester for the same reason.
It is still going to be an incredibly competitive event. The five Northern teams in Division 1 finished in the top 12 (out of 20) at Indoor Nationals less than a month ago – four of them in the top eight – and I doubt that outdoors is going to be much different. The North is full of experience and incredible skill, and it’s only getting stronger.
With all of that in mind, let’s find out a bit more about each team…
Leicester, Latitude 52.6°N
Leicester are heading into Regionals with a relatively small team due to graduations from star players such as Rozzi Chalk, and they’re also missing some of their more experienced players because of injuries. Get well soon! On the other hand, they have been training hard, working on their fitness and have had an intake of freshers this year who have a lot potential. Regionals is an exciting prospect for Leicester: they are hoping to have fun, develop their freshers, make some strong connections and become more cohesive as a unit. Let’s go Jesters!
Loughborough, Latitude 52.8°N
The Loughborough women have been prepping throughout the year for outdoors by playing friendlies against their Men’s teams and regular throwing outdoors, because they want to be able to take down that awful Nottingham wind! Having already won some BUCS silverware at Indoor Division 1 Indoor Nationals, they will be hoping to pair them with some outdoors medals too. While they have lost a lot of key players from last year, including a graduating Rupal Ghelani and injured Sarah Lacy, the trade-off is that they have gained a lot of talented players – such as Katie Allen and Sophie Wong. This is in addition to the naturally gifted and athletic players you’d usually find on any Loughborough squad. Their aspiration for Regionals is to qualify for Division 1 Nationals, which is very likely to happen. Furthermore, Loughborough will probably be a contender of the Regional trophy. Captains Laura Mott and Grace Wilkinson are excited for outdoors, looking forward to playing with a team that works so hard for each other. #Noheroes
Nottingham, Latitude 53.0°N
Nottingham’s aspiration for Outdoor Regionals is to develop connections and cohesiveness as a team. Beginning the year by coming fourth at Women’s Indoor Division 1 Nationals after battling their way up 10 seeds, a record for Nottingham women at indoors! Unfortunately they have lost GB U24 player Lauren Mounteney. However, they get to add their proud coach of two years, GB’s Kat Cheng, to the roster. A team that have been training regularly together, including some extra friendlies, they would love to qualify for Nationals by putting into practice what they’ve learnt over the year. Nottingham did throw a big surprise at Indoor Nationals and they are definitely in a position to do the same here, having a home-field advantage. They have very reliable handlers and strong cutters, and fancy themselves as a team that will work everything through and always be free. Being a very clinical team with a great offence puts them in good stead for Nationals, and it would be no surprise to see them approach a top eight finish.
Sheffield, Latitude 53.4°N
Sheffield have had a bit of a scenic indoor route this year but they haven’t lost their confidence. They’ve been building said confidence and chemistry since October with strong turnout at their weekly women-only training, meaning Outdoor Regionals is going to be a very exciting time for them. While they lost some players due to graduation last year, for those that don’t already know they’ve balanced that by gained Canadian National player – Helen Thompson (no pressure). Sheffield have a team with a fair amount of depth to their squad, in addition to Helen and their weekly training, I imagine the team have developed strong enough connections to make some damage at Regionals and win a Division 1 Nationals position. Their tournament focus is to try not to put too much pressure on themselves and progress as a team. Sheffield have huge potential at Nationals, especially with their athletic plays and deep threats. With the likes of Helen being able to throw reliable hucks, this is a team that could cause some big yet exciting upsets at Nationals.
Leeds, Latitude 53.5°N
Leeds have been preparing for UWOR by playing a couple of friendlies against York and Sheffield – it’s been great for outdoors development, as well as really pushing throwing outside of training and encouraging involvement with the local club scene too. Coming 11th at Women’s Division 1 Indoor Nationals with a very new team speaks volumes to the amount of depth they have as a squad. Unfortunately they will be missing Alice Hanton due to GB training, but they are still excited to see how they do, especially with current GB U24 players Kat Rowland and Emily Potter to help encourage and guide their beginners to some ace frisbee! Leeds have high hopes to qualify for Nationals as everyone has put a lot of hard work in. Once they get there, Leeds are a real threat at the National level, whether that’s Division 1 or 2. They have a group of core players that create a lot of depth in the team, in addition to a strong intake of freshers and developing players – they have a lot of potential, and will cause upsets I’m sure.
York, Latitude 54.0°N
Over the last year the York Women’s team have improved large amounts, with lots of freshers coming in and strengthening their squad. Having implemented new women-only sessions for two hours per week, they’ve managed to use the time to improve their tactics and practice as a team. Hoping to use Outdoor Regionals to gain experience and prove that York once again is underrated, York prefer coming out as the underdogs who challenge some of the more experienced opponents when they play with no fear. Watch out for their all-lefty handler line! York have never failed to make Outdoor Nationals, they are an ever-present team that fly under the radar… When you know, you know. There is a big emphasis on development and squad cohesiveness, and it’s always and nice game to watch.
Lancaster, Latitude 54.0°N
Lancaster is going into Outdoor Regionals as a relatively inexperienced team as they started the academic year off without their three most experienced players, in addition to captain Jess Marriott unfortunately captaining from the sideline due to a second torn ACL… not fun! Their aim will be to try to counteract this with their very successful uptake of keen freshers. At Indoor Regionals they managed to improve seed when their aim was to hold seed, so they’re going into outdoors with the same attitude. The beginners are going to push hard and they are looking forward to a fun frisbee-filled weekend. Nationals will be an incredible experience for Lancaster women and will provide everything they want, a lot of time against the big teams to develop their players and encourage them to continue in playing.
Durham, Latitude 54.8°N
Durham have also had focused women-only training. Specifically working on their zone, and lots of extra throwing practice as their well aware of that horrendous wind in Nottingham. Taking two teams to Indoor Regionals, one team making it to Division 2 and smashed their way up 8 seeds to finish 3rd! The strength of this team is within the depth of their players and their ready and raring to go and do their best. Durham have developed this habit of going into Nationals under-seeded and then shining through, this could be another time. Should they stay strong and fight for their space, it is a team that will perform well at Nationals. However, with the strong calibre of teams in the North, we don’t expect them quite cracking Division 1 this time, and instead making a lot of waves in Division 2.
Newcastle, Latitude 55.0°N
Newcastle are going into Regionals fired up and wanting to do well. Newcastle believe that they tend to cruise at Regionals and then make the National games really difficult for themselves, therefore they want to come out fighting from the start this year. Being really proud of the effort the team made at indoors but hope their position at outdoors might represent the strength of the team better than indoors did. Losing a few masters students but still have key players Kate Gibson and Jo Murnane, as well as gaining GB Junior Emily Atkinson (definitely someone to watch) and Chloe O’Loughlin (who has been a huge addition to the team). They’ve been trying really hard to gel as a team and are excited for what’s to come. Newcastle have really built themselves up over the past few years, from finishing at the bottom of Outdoors Division 2 in 2017 to placing top five last year. An exceptional university team with a lot of talent, and they have every chance of being as successful as they were back into 2016 and taking home a medal – just play your game!
The top four will go on to Division 1 Nationals, and because of the strength of this region, every team will win a space at Nationals.
And that’s a rap! We wish every team the best of luck at Regionals! I hope your all as excited as I am. We also wish everyone with injuries the best of luck in their recoveries.