JP Casey revels in UCL Dodgeball’s recent success
Mere months after winning the first-ever medals for a UCL women’s dodgeball team, taking silver at the South England University Championships, the UCL Panthers have won the Croydon non-league tournament. The seven-player squad, consisting of five players representing the Panthers for the first time, lost only a single game in their run to winning the Croydon final. Captain Caoimhe McLaughlin was particularly delighted, announcing her excitement at having helped secure ‘UCL women their first ever gold medals and f***-off trophy’; it is unclear what exactly a ‘f***-off trophy’ is, but the women’s captain’s enthusiasm is infectious.
McLaughlin told me that she is ‘honestly thrilled at the progress from the women’s team this year’, and went on to point out that ‘the majority of my team is new to dodgeball, and that we are winning against more experienced teams is incredible’. McLaughlin has led the women’s team for three years and is herself in the England squad, but is graduating this summer. She declared herself to be ‘especially happy that we finally got gold [as] this is one of the last tournaments I’ll be playing with my girls!’
Now that the Panthers have reached their first two finals in the last few months, there is great optimism around the club that the women’s team will continue to excel, once their captain has bowed out of university dodgeball and progressed to the international stage. There are plans in place to push for entry to one of the women’s leagues in the next two years, and the recent success of the women’s team has provided the society with a strong base to grow from.
The men’s second team, the Pumas II, also fared well, reaching the final before a tough 8-2 loss to a star-studded London Storm team, which featured former UCL Pumas captain Phil Jones; he may have won this tournament, but Storm have a much less cool uniform than the Pumas, so it’s unclear who the real winner is here.
Captain John Chan gave particular credit to the catching prowess of Ed Barrett and Andrew Lavis, each picking off at least six opposing throws, and Yee Chong, who has recovered from accidentally headbutting me in fresher’s week to secure four catches en route to his first appearance in a final.
The Pumas’ semi-final was particularly memorable, as the team recovered from two straight defeats against the Hertfordshire Stags first team to win four on the bounce, securing an 8-4 victory and a trip to the final to face the Storm. The Pumas knocked off two first teams on the road to the final, and there is a strong sense of hope that many of the team will go on to play for the UCL First team in years to come.
Non-league tournaments have historically been an excellent way for new players to hone their skills before advancing to more regular league matches, and UCL’s recent successes, for both men’s and women’s teams, suggests the future is bright for UCL dodgeball.
Image credits: Men’s Team photo – John Chan, Women’s Team photo – London Storm Dodgeball Team