Bullying off: A week in the life of a hockey player

October 22, 1999

Kirsty Beaton, 20, is a third-year medical student at Cambridge University and a member of the England under-21 female hockey squad Monday

A morning of lectures , then it's off to the gym for a resistance session - 20 minutes of light jogging as a warm-up, then a sit-up/press-up routine. I do conditioning with a theraband - like a gigantic elastic band. In the evening I try to see my friends, but usually I'm in the library.


After a morning of medical lectures, I cycle to the athletics track for a 45-minute physical session - eight, with recovery periods in between. Then it's back to college for a 5pm seminar. Tuesdays are student nights, but it depends whether I have a match the next day. I don't mind having to train so much because I want to put as much effort into my hockey as I can. When I begin my junior doctor training in a few years, hockey will go downhill.


Cambridge does not leave Wednesdays free for sport. But most British University Sports Association matches are played then, which can mean missing a day's classes if I'm playing for Cambridge. My tutors are supportive, as long as I catch up on my work. This year, members of the England squad might be advised not to play university hockey in case it interferes with national commitments. But I'm hoping to play in next year's Varsity match. Wednesday evenings are normally a sports social night.


I get up early for a light jog and resistance session before 10am. I prefer training in the morning - it gets it over with and sets you up for the day. Thursday afternoons are spent in the library and I have a 5pm seminar. The Cambridge team trains on Thursday nights - the same as my home team, the Old Loughtonians in Chigwell, Essex. My coach has said I do not have to come home if I go to the university session. It would be expensive if I had to come home mid-week and weekends.


After lectures all day, I travel home to my parents. Sometimes I go straight to the venue of Saturday's club game if it's an away match. My parents are fantastic - they drive me to Nottingham or Bradford if need be and mum always has my Old Loughtonians kit washed and packed.


I try to get back to Cambridge for the evening. As I am leaving next year to start my clinical training, I want to spend more time with my friends. Things will be even more difficult when England training starts later this season - I will have another two sessions a week at a regional academy. We have to keep a record of our training, fitness, sleep and diet and monitor our feelings about the training session, so the coaches can tailor our programmes.


Cup games are on Sundays. After the match with the Old Loughtonians, it's back to Cambridge. If I am not playing, I do an active recovery session - anything off my feet, such as swimming, cycling or rowing. Then I head to the library or supermarket and get everything together for the next week. Although the academic pressure is not as intense this year, losing another two nights a week to England training means I will have to reorganise my time to get all my studying done. There's a saying at Cambridge that it's only possible to do two out of studying, sport or socialising, but I'm determined to do all three.

* Interview by Jennifer Currie

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