For most students at the University of Southampton, the closest anybody ever achieves to exercise is the hungover ascent up the steep gradients of Church Lane, or the trek up the seemingly endless hill to Glen Eyre, staring wistfully at the U2B you just missed a mere five minutes ago at the Highfield Interchange.
Stephen Gore, however, is one who possesses “the gift” and, as SUSU’s newly-elected Vice-President for the Sports zone, including the union’s sporting arm, Team Southampton, Wessex Scene decided to sit down and grill the man once mistakenly labelled as the basketball first team captain about his first few weeks in office.
WS: “So, Stephen – how have the first few weeks of your time in office been?”
SG: “The first few weeks have been a lot of intensive training to get us all up to speed with what the union does. It’s been useful but my inbox has piling up pretty quickly! The team are all getting along really well though, which helps us get through it.”
WS: “Has anything surprised you about the role since you started?”
SG: “I knew a lot of work goes on over summer, but even so I was surprised by how early we have to start planning all our projects, including alumni day which is scheduled in May.”
WS: “You’ve spoken previously of some changes – what’s first on your agenda?”
SG: “The very first thing on the agenda is making sure that we’re giving more opportunity to intramural teams this year. Last year saw an unfortunate drop in interest, but we’ve already made a lot progress in organising an intramural bunfight and an intramural taster weekend. Watch this space!”
WS: “Do you think having a strong background in sport at university is essential in taking this role on?”
SG: “I wouldn’t say having a strong background in sport is essential, but it has definitely helped me hit the ground running with projects since I’ve been involved with them previously for a few years. I’d say the biggest thing that experience has taught me is understanding that I don’t know everything!
“Although I can speak for members of my club on many issues, I’m aware that other sports clubs have very different opinions on how things should be done. I’m trying to be mindful of this moving forward.”
WS: “Lastly, how are plans progressing for the two-day Varsity event against Portsmouth you proposed as part of your election campaign?”
SG: “Going into Varsity we were confident that we would have a very large margin of victory. Portsmouth surprised us by their level of competition and determination, and almost caused a big upset.
“This year I’m determined to have our teams come back stronger than ever by building a unified Team Southampton mind-set throughout the year. For the first time, students will be able to buy Team Southampton kit from the shop on top all year round, and we’re upscaling our Varsity merchandise – so expect to see a lot more team colour this year.
“Expanding our current Varsity offering is the logical next step in getting people engaged in university sport and with more spectators and more involvement, the pride becomes even greater. Portsmouth seems to be on board with the plan but we’re still in the early stages of drafting the Varsity constitution. As a project very close to my heart you’ll all be hearing about it as soon as details are confirmed!”