Pembroke PhD students Léonie de Jonge (2014) and Michelle Quay (2013) won Varsity and received Blues with the Cambridge University Women’s Basketball Club but their work is not done yet.
This past year, the Cambridge University Women’s Basketball Club have had a good year, finishing third in the Midlands 1A league and winning Varsity. They’ve achieved this feat despite losing their coach in the first week, something that Captain, Michelle Quay, and replacement coach, Léonie de Jonge, attribute to the team spirit and strong discipline.
“I’m not sure if the great team spirit is why we were winning or if winning is what caused our great team spirit” Léonie said, while talking about the near perfect turnout at the three training sessions a week, even the early morning session.
The dedication was present not just in the Blues team but in the 2s team, known as the Panthers, as well. This year the Panthers had 20 members who stuck through the year with the team even though a basketball team can typically only dress 12 players a game. This level of commitment has caused the Club to rally around to raise funds, through events such as a Midnight Madness shoot-out, so that they can enter into BUCS for the first time next year.
For the Blues team, this will be the first time in Club history, Michelle and Léonie think, that the team will receive 10 Full Blues for its players, although this still means that three Varsity players will go without this year. Ranked as a Half-Blue sport, the fight to receive a Full Blue is not one that Michelle has relished but one that she has found necessary. “It is not about the status for me, having a Blue makes such a difference to a player’s funding and that’s what I really care about”.
They are very keen to even out the disparity between the rules regarding the Men’s Basketball Club and the Women’s to make it easier for their players to get the recognition that they deserve and in turn the funding that they need. The Men’s team is automatically classed as a Full Blue and they do not have to win their Varsity match in order to qualify, distribution is therefore given on the discretion of the Captain and Coach. The equivalent Oxford team receive 12 Blues for members who participate in the Varsity match, regardless of outcome which is what Michelle and Léonie would like to see for the Cambridge Blues team.
It was an argument that Michelle was prepared to put forward at the status review that they were due to have this year, however unfortunately other business prevented them from having time to discuss the matter which means they must wait till next year to put their case to the committee.
In the meantime, they are looking forward to the next season. Léonie is feeling confident that she will not be needed to coach for a second year as the Blues approach a friend to take over that responsibility. The 2s are still looking for a coach but hopefully they will not be without one long as they begin their BUCS campaign. Michelle has stepped down as Captain but is confident that her successor will be able to build on their momentum, not just in the league but in the fight for equal Blues distribution.