If you had asked me about the Stirling University Cricket Club in my first year of Stirling, I would not have been able to answer definitively whether one existed!
Fast forward three years and the club has grown immensely under the steady guidance of club president Caitlin Ormiston. Now it seems, in Caitlin’s own words, she wants to “give back” even more by running to become the next Sports Union President.
When I asked Caitlin how she had managed to breathe life into such a minute club, she had tangible evidence of how she – plus the committee she gives much credit to – had brought so many people with the same passion for the sport together.
“When I arrived in first year, the club wasn’t doing very well. There were zero trainings, we had very little members, and on the pitch we had a very poor success rate. I think when I took over the role of president – which I ran for in my second year, which a lot of people said was quite early for such a role – I set out to obviously get more structure, get more people involved and build the club.
“Now we almost have enough players for two teams, our team was unbeaten and we won the league. We’re training both indoors and outdoors, there are more socials, and I think we’ve just become more of a club at the university now.
“I’ve been able to pull together a group of people that are willing to work for it, and we’ve got to a point now where we have money in the bank. We’re pretty stable as a club, and I’m very happy with the changes in my four years at university.”
Caitlin explains that it is this determination, enthusiasm and pragmatism is something she wants bring to the role of Sports Union President.
She set out a goal, was elected into the position in which she could achieve this goal, brought people together who also believed in it, and has created a club which prospers with each passing year.
Now that we had discussed the undeniable success of the cricket club, I was keen to find out more about the points Caitlin had highlighted in her candidate manifesto.
First on Caitlin’s list, and the point that, when I pressed her, she admitted was the area on her manifesto she felt most strongly about, which was that of heightened collaboration between the university clubs.
“This is an issue that I’ve identified that I would like to overcome. I think it’s easy for clubs to believe that they each have their own sport and shouldn’t be interested in other ones, but we are all part of the same Union.
“I think we could come up with some sort of system whereby clubs can opt in and pair up to work together in harder areas such as sponsorship and fundraising, which is not easy to do alone, but when you have more people and more resources it becomes easier. Straight away you’re building links and you’re gaining exposure for potential new members.”
When I asked Caitlin how she planned to give a voice to smaller clubs such as the one she had been so involved in, she didn’t hesitate to launch into detail on how she would hope to achieve this.
“I want to set up monthly meetings between clubs to set long and short term goals that are monitored and achieved. As much as clubs want to work with the Union, I want to be there to support and help in any way possible. If you are willing to work and willing to set up these meetings, I am more than happy to try and aid as much as possible.”
Going beyond the student body, Caitlin explained how she also felt passionately about increasing links with the local community. An idea that may have been tossed around before by candidates but may not have been fully pinned down and fulfilled.
“I feel like it can sound quite vague but I’ve managed to pinpoint what I mean by increasing links with the local community. I think if we can use it so that clubs at university can work with clubs in the Stirling area. For example the rugby club at university could work with the county.
“This allows clubs to increase their training and playing opportunities easily. They can also use facilities that are already there. Also working with Active Stirling is so important, as we have so many qualified coaches who are willing to referee or umpire, and I think we just need to utilise that.”
Caitlin acknowledges how the past Sports Union presidents have laid this foundation and how she would be more than willing to make the most of these ready-made connections.
“Jess [Morris] got her name known in the community and if people can build upon that from year to year it’s worth doing, rather than doing it for a year or two years and then it fades away, it should be something we should be able to build upon and keep going.”
Caitlin is animated when talking about the points on her manifesto she would like to make a reality. But of course this is a two horse race [at the time of interview Rebecca Blair had not yet withdrawn form the election], so I was curious about what points from her fellow candidates manifesto also rang true with her.
“Both my other candidates mentioned facility redevelopments and I think that that is definitely important that the Sports Union is kept up to date, and that their opinions and voices are heard.
“I haven’t put this in my manifesto as I feel like it is a definite given that a president would bring to the role. My manifesto points are unique and my ideas that would be different for me, but I definitely agree about what they have said about this point.”
As someone who cycles to university and is constantly swigging from a water bottle, I was keen to question Caitlin on the last point of her manifesto about how she would aim to make the Sports Unions more environmentally friendly with water fountains and better bike facilities.
“Speaking to cyclists and members of the cycle club – they would cycle in but they have expensive bikes, and there are not always safe and secure places to store them. If we have lots of people wanting to cycle in, why not try and encourage that as much as possible?”.
She also vows to campaign for more water fountains around the university, as she deems it ‘ridiculous’ that there so few in the sports centre that students have access to.
Differing candidates manifestos can be quite similar as the issues that these individuals are campaigning for are usually reflective of what the student body as a whole wants to see. It mostly comes down to which individual the voters feel will implement the most change and, ultimately, get the job done. For Caitlin, she highlights the traits she feels give her the edge.
“I’m enthusiastic and I’d like to think I’m a people person, I’m able to talk to people, I’m quite approachable and I can help with lots of different sports clubs and personalities. I think you need to be able to talk to people in this role and to listen when you need to”
Determination and commitment are attributes that Caitlin vows to bring to the role and one gets the impression that when she sets her sights on a goal she is 100% committed.
“I got the idea in first year that one day I’d like to run for sports president, and here I am making sure I run and give it my all.”
With her experience as president of the cricket club for three years, only female and younger member of her local cricket committee at home and her spot on the Sports Union executive committee, no one can say that Caitlin isn’t familiar with holding positions of responsibility.
Only time will tell whether the voters decide that Caitlin has the edge to be this years Sport Union President. However there seems to be no debate, that she has triumphed in having the cutest canine campaign manger.
Voting opens on the March 12 at 9am until March 13 at 6.15pm with the results party being held at 7pm in Venue. Stay tuned for all the Union Elections action with Brig and you can see Caitlin and the other candidates’ manifestos here.