For the majority of students, summers are spent travelling, working and relaxing.  Not so for Charlotte Houston, a Hertford Geographer. She has spent much of the last three years training and playing international lacrosse, breaking into the senior team last year during the Home Internationals. Having progressed through the top tiers of the sport so rapidly, she was first chosen for the Under 19 squad aged 15, Charlotte’s introduction to playing lacrosse was unremarkable: compulsory “games” at her school in Guildford. Her fortuitous introduction to lacrosse, however, represents its major weakness; namely that lacrosse is mainly only played at a handful of private schools in England.  

It is an issue Charlotte herself raises, arguing that lacrosse is only elitist because of the expense involved in playing. “Players have to pay to represent regions, even England” due to funding being based on results. She sees this is a vicious cycle as “to get results the funding is needed to improve training facilities and coaches”. A cursory scan down an England squad list shows though that for a considerable number of Charlotte’s teammates this weakness has been overcome by gaining a scholarship in the USA. Although tempted, she felt however that the distance from home and the intensity at which sport in American colleges is played was not for her.

Their loss, it seems, has been Oxford’s gain, they are currently sitting fourth in the BUCS Premier Division. Having lost only two of their eight games and with a game in hand Charlotte admits she is very excited about the team’s prospects for the rest of the season. Talking about the crucial varsity match coming up in February, Cambridge at home, she is confident that Oxford can overturn a disappointing loss to them earlier in the season, “if we perform well on the day with such a talented squad I don’t see why we can’t win”.

 Setting the tone for the rest of the season, the Women’s squad train three times a week, the team’s first ever pre-season training schedule must have proved daunting, coming as it did before Charlotte had even started “Fresher’s Week”. Thankfully her introduction was helped by three further Hertford Geography Fresher’s also joining up with the squad for the first time meaning that the College, perhaps surprisingly, now represents the sport in all three of its variations with students already in the Mixed and Men’s squads. Charlotte agreed, “It’s really nice to go to training and fitness with people from College, rather than face the freezing mornings alone”.

A further training session a week plus training weekends throughout the year with the England squad in Rickmansworth means Charlotte does have a demanding schedule. However she did not feel that she had had to sacrifice other areas of Oxford life to succeed. Frequent Crew Dates, punctuated by seemingly even more frequent visits to Park End, appeared to be highlights of the very social, social life enjoyed by the Lacrosse team.

Charlotte does not yet know what the future holds for her lacrosse plans after graduating but she is definitely interested in a Law conversion course. At the moment it seems she is just focussing on achieving the fine balance between working hard and playing hard, whilst seemingly remaining relaxed throughout.