The University Women’s Lacrosse Club are renowned for their abilities as a team, having already crushed Exeter and Bath (along with their three other opponents) this term. Alongside this, a stunning 5 individual players have been selected to join the senior England squad this season. Erica Wallace (Jesus), Sophie Tamblyn (Magdalene), Amelia Miller (Downing), Julie Wise (Homerton) and Katie Lehovsky (Robinson) were all selected to train with the England Women ahead of the Home Internationals in March 2018. Notably, Erica and Sophie only made the transition from the U19 to senior team this trial season.
Thanks for agreeing to answer some questions for the Blue Bird! Could you give us a little bit more background?
Amelia: I’m a second year at Downing studying PBS. I played Lacrosse throughout school, and was selected for the U19 England programme at 15. In 2015 I competed in the U19 World Cup, where England won a bronze medal! I then studied in California for a year where I played in the Southern California Inter-Athletic College for Pomona-Pitzer Lacrosse, and made the final 16 in the NCAA tournament, before starting my first year here in 2016.
Erica: First year bio natsci at Jesus. I played lacrosse at school and then started training with the U19 National Academy at 16. With them I’ve toured to USA and in my last year at school I played for the U19A team at home internationals, in a match against Japan and at the U19 World Cup festival in summer.
Sophie: First year HSPSer at Magdalene. I also started playing at school and have captained my county, my region and also U19 England. I was selected for the U19 programme when I was 15. I had the chance to go on the World Cup selection tour to USA and also had some really fun experiences such as the Japan game, the World Cup festival and captaining the U19s to Home Internationals.
Katie: I’m a fifth year medical student at Robinson. I first started playing lacrosse at school and since then have played for CUWLC for 5 years. I also took part in the England U19 programme, competing at the U19 World Cup in 2011. Since then I’ve been a member of the Senior England Lacrosse Squad and was very fortunate to represent England at the Senior Home Internationals and European Championships 2015. This summer I represented Great Britain in the World Games in Poland.
Julie: I’m a third year at Homerton doing Education with Classics. I started playing lacrosse at school and also for a club outside of school, representing my county, region and also part of the U19 England academy for two years. With the U19s programme, I got selected for tour in America. I have also been fortunate to represent Israel at U19 level, and helped with the development of their national programme, running camps and clinics there.
How does your pre-Uni experience compared to LaX at Cambridge?
Amelia: The level of play is extremely high at Cambridge, so coming to uni has definitely helped me improve my skill and agility. The main difference between Cambridge and the US, aside from the weather, is the amount of training per week, as CUWLC do not have any double-days of training (thank God…).
Erica: The standard of lacrosse a Cambridge is very high which makes training really fun and beneficial and I have definitely continued to improve by playing with older players who have more experience than I do. The amount of training at Cambridge is similar to what I was doing at school but with more emphasis on strength, conditioning and agility so I feel like I am improving as an overall athlete as well as a lacrosse player.
Sophie: Cambridge is so great this year and the standard is very good. I have loved getting to know a totally new team and playing with different people. The physicality is probably the biggest step up from junior level which is something that I’m finding different but very fun.
Katie: I’ve loved playing for CUWLC during my time at Cambridge. The main difference is that we train and play matches as a team every week. This is great fun and means that you get to know all of your teammates really well.
Julie: University level lacrosse was a big step up from junior level, but I’ve absolutely loved it! The mix of different players (ages and experience) was definitely a nice change from the similarity of school, and adds to the social aspect of CUWLC. Lax here is a lot more tactical focused, as that base technical skill is already of a baseline assumption for the squad.
Could you talk us through a standard week of training?
As a team, we have 3 tactics sessions a week, one strength and conditioning session, and BUCS games every Wednesday. We try to fit another two S&C (Strength and Conditioning) sessions in on top of this, as well as a speed session on the track.
How has your season gone so far?
Our Blues are undefeated, and are currently sitting at the top of the Premier South league. The Kingfishers are also doing well, and have only lost one game this season!
How many get picked for the England squad? What was the selection criteria?
There are annual trials in September to select the performance squad of around 30. From this squad, the team for tours, the Home Internationals and the European Championships will be selected.
Which matches will you be playing?
If selection goes well, we will be playing in the Home Internationals early next year, will be touring to Japan in June, and hopefully making the team for the Euros!
If this is your first experience at this level, what do you expect from it? If it isn’t the first time, what do you like most about it?
Amelia: The best thing about being a part of the England squad is that I am able to train with some of the best Lacrosse players in the world. These women have played on an international stage in multiple World Cups, and I am always learning from them. The support we receive from the coaches and strength staff is incredible, and has made me a much stronger player.
Erica: As I only got out of the U19 system this summer, this is my first time playing at senior national level so it is great to play with some very experienced players who have been playing internationally for years and hopefully I’ll be able to learn from them by playing alongside them. Also there is great support from strength and conditioning coaches which I have not had before so I am enjoying having a proper training programme in this way.
Sophie: Same as Erica really. I have only just entered the senior programme which is so exciting but also a little nerve racking! I hope I’ll improve loads from playing with such experienced players. The system already feels very different from the junior set up and I can’t wait to get to know my new team. I do think it will take a bit of getting used to, but I also know that I am going to love it!
Katie: I really enjoy training as part of the England Squad, it helps me to stretch myself and learn new skills and tactics. The support we get from the coaches and strength & conditioning staff is fantastic, and it’s also great to learn from the other players.
Julie: Senior England is a whole new level, which I had definitely not experienced before, and felt a lot out of my depth. I was so surprised to be picked, so I’m just trying to make the most of the opportunities and exposure we get eg. full time coaches, specialised S&C programmes and playing with the best players in the country. The best thing about the last two years at Seniors has definitely been the playing opportunities; we got to play Japan/Australia in warm up matches for the World cup as well as against other touring teams before the festival itself!
How are you finding balancing the Cambridge workload with playing sport at such a high level?
Amelia: Undoubtedly, at times it is hard, however I enjoy working under pressure, and always find the time to get my work done (which sometimes means missing a Wednesday Cindies #cry).
Erica: It is difficult to balance work, training and socialising but I work best when I’m busy and I’m finding that it is manageable as long as I stay on top of things and plan my time carefully to make sure I am able to get everything I need and want to do done.
Sophie: As the others have said, it’s inevitably quite a challenge. Equally, work and training both have to be done so it’s just a question or time management and being sensible and productive when I have the chance.
Katie: It can be very busy trying to manage medicine alongside lacrosse, however, I find that it is possible to balance the two as long as you stay organised.
Julie: I definitely do not do a degree…. or it has definitely taken a backseat!
What’re you targeting for the year ahead?
Our main goals for this year are to win Varsity and BUCs!
How are you feeling for that Varsity match?
Oxford are right behind us in the league (also undefeated) and we have yet to play them in BUCs, which means Varsity will be extremely close this year. It’s an away Varsity this year, and we’re all so excited to beat them on their home turf.
With that final challenge issued, I let the CUWLC team get back to their packed training schedules.
If you are interested in writing for The Blue Bird then please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org