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Saints Sport: Paving the way for future success

Susie Carr graduated from St Andrews with a degree in Philosophy in 2014. Here she describes the opportunities that the University gave her to play sport at the highest level, and how this paved the way for her recent selection for the Great Britain women’s squad in the Australian Football (AFL) European Championships in London in October 2019.

My best times at St Andrews were spent playing hockey and being part of a club and a committee that were growing year on year. The friends I made through hockey are still some of my closest today.

Studying at St Andrews enabled me to play at the highest level because we were competing against the top Scottish university teams in the third National League in Scotland. In addition, we had excellent coaching throughout and I really benefited from the strength and conditioning sessions that Saints Sport provided for us twice a week.

Once I graduated, I went on to play for Reading hockey club and then, when I moved to London in 2016, for Wimbledon hockey club. But it was in 2018 – when I decided to pause my club hockey career and try something new – that I really found the sport that was right for me.

In May 2018 I went along to my first Aussie rules training session with low expectations, but I came away inspired and with a thirst to learn more. Two weeks later I started for the South East London Giants in their second league game and I was hooked. Even a concussion sustained in the first 15 minutes didn’t put me off! I played the rest of the season with the Giants and was blown away when I was approached by the Great Britain coach to come and play a friendly with them in August that year.

Things just snowballed from there. In February this year (2019) I was selected to play for England in the EuroCup in Stockholm, Sweden – my first international tournament. We competed against the eight top countries in Europe and finished with a silver medal: an absolutely fantastic experience that I will never forget. Then in August I was given the amazing news that I’d been selected for the Great Britain side to play in the European Championships in London in October 2019!

England Vixens winning the silver medal at the 2019 EuroCup in Stockholm, Sweden

Looking to the future, the AFL International Championships are in Melbourne August 2020 and my number one goal is to cement my name in the GB squad for that. I’m also hoping to make a more permanent move to Australia after the tournament so that I can play with the best players and really immerse myself in the AFL world in Melbourne. I know there are some Irish girls who play there professionally at the moment, and fingers crossed there will be some English girls, too, next season. I’d love to join them!

My advice to any budding sports stars at St Andrews is to get down to the Sports Centre, try out a totally new sport (or “cross-coding”) and see how you get on. I spent my whole life playing hockey, but it was only when I tried something new (and AFL is completely different to hockey!) that I found a sport that was much more suited to me. You never know where it might take you!

Halfway through the EuroCup 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden

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