Interview with Steve Wicks - May 2007

Age: 26
From: Dundee
University of Dundee LLB 2000 – 2005, Diploma in Legal Practice 2006 - 2007

Hi Steve. First of all you are approaching the end of your second season as SUS Non-Student Co-ordinator. Will you be running for a third year?

For my crimes, I have already been voted in for a third year.

What qualities does the SUS Non-Student Co-ordinator require – is it a job for the faint-hearted?

I have to say that my respect for John Sullivan (Non-student Co-ordinator for 10 years) and Matt Nowicki (1 year) has grown further after two years in the post. It is a fairly structured job but sometimes it can be a tough task getting everything done. As for qualities, I think that just like club captains, you have to be well organised and flexible. A shame really or I would be quite good at it.

Why does SUS have two organisers and what are their different functions?

Essentially, the student co-ordinator is responsible for putting together all the league results at the end of the year and anything else the non-student co-ordinator requires them to do. In my case, this involves calming me down when things go wrong. The non-student organiser is responsible for everything else like medals and liaising with SUS etc.

Talk us through how you went from a novice archer to SUS Non-Student Co-ordinator?

I have never hidden the fact that I am not a good archer and I am glad to say that that at least has remained consistent throughout my archery career. Beyond holidays and a few sessions at a local club, I had not really participated in archery until I joined the University of Dundee club in 1998. I gained a colour and a merit in 2004. This was about the time that I decided to take the sport seriously. Previously, I had gone to competitions more for the banter than anything else but around 2004, James Lowry joined the club and his enthusiasm for the sport rubbed off and I wanted to try and improve and with the help of people like John Sullivan I have. After my novice year I became secretary for Dundee but only a few months later after David Crowe resigned as captain, I took over the post which I held until 2005. I like to think that I did an alright job. I enjoyed being captain loved working alongside some brilliant people such as Tom Clint, Dave Hall and Dave Crowe. I tried to ensure that the captain after me could take the club onto better things.

During my time there the club grew and became a bit more successful than it was in the first few years of my attendance there. Tom Clint took over from me and did a great job with the club. Throughout my archery career, I was able to watch John Sullivan guide SUS (then SUSF) expertly and then was able to watch Matt Nowicki do another great job. I am surprised that John and Matt kept calm in the face of some pretty amazing stuff, such as one club forgetting to tell another club that they had been unable to book the hall for the appointed day and another club forgetting to invite the other teams to their league match! I have yet to face something as bad as this but third year lucky. I did not mean to take up the non-student co-ordinator post as I was not sure that I was the right man for the job but after talking to Matt about it I decided go ahead. Oh yeah, and no-one else wanted to take up the post.

Dundee had their practice time cut this year due to Sports Centre repairs. Exactly how much time was cut and what effect has this had on the club this season?

This was one part off my captaincy that really annoyed me. When I first joined the club we had a fair amount of practice time but this dropped off after my novice year and it took a lot of moaning for us to return to two practices a week. After four years, our sports centre gave us the times but only after I left the club. However, the time was cut again this year, now that the university sports centre is being done up. Having only 2 hours practice time a week is bad for any club and this is set to continue. As far as I can remember, Dundee has always been the worst for practice times in SUS during the indoor season and normally by a fair margin but the club has had its fair share of really good archers since I have been there, including James Lowry, James Bridge and more recently Laura Vallius.

Are you coaching at both Dundee and St Andrews? When they meet each other who did you want to win?

This year while I was the non-student co-ordinator, I was studying for my Diploma in Legal Practice. The class times for this meant that I could not coach Dundee this year, I think I only managed to get to the club twice. I have started coaching St Andrews but due to illness I have not been able to attend as regularly as I would have liked. I have to say that I would not “support” any team on the circuit but I will always remain a Dundonian. As co-ordinator, I see it as my job to try and encourage and support all the clubs.

Robert Gordon’s - club or no club?

No Club – it was a shame that RGU imploded, it did make the league calendar easier to construct though. [RGU folded after the 2004/05 season, Napier joined the SUS League in full in 2005/06 - Ed.] There have been attempts to resurrect the club but they have been unsuccessful for administrative reasons I believe. We have had interest from other universities in setting up clubs, particularly Stirling which did set up a club but it appears to have fallen through

This season you pioneered a new competition for SUS, a handicap head-to-head event, held at Dundee in February. Describe how the competition works and why you decided to do it.

Essentially this year we introduced a new competition. I felt that while SUS was busy a new competition could be introduced. I was also aware that the Intermediate training day that had previously been held never really took off and I thought something else for these archers would be good. I live just down the road from Lochside Bowmen in Forfar who have done an annual Head to Head and have done it very well. So in the shadow of this competition and BUTC, I thought it would be a good idea. Basing it on the Forfar model, I decided to take it forward but Richard Townsend (Edinburgh) suggested using pairs instead of individuals in the knock out stages. After talking to Stewart Barclay (can’t remember what he does now) the handicapped pairs idea crept in. As the name suggests, what happened was we shot a Portsmouth on the morning and took the scores at the half way point to rank the archers. They were then split into pairs with the theory being that number one went with number thirty two and two with thirty one etc. This worked out quite well except that we never expected the last person to be the last person by hundred points. I think it was a good day, though a long one and I think most people enjoyed it. The competition is to take place next year on a bigger scale. I had held this year out to be an experiment and had only allowed 32 entrants and all of them Recurve. So next near the dark side will be there.

Did you get much feedback from the competitors?

Not officially but a lot of people did say afterwards that they thought it was good though some did say that it went on a bit at the end. I think that the scoresheets could have been constructed better as well.

BUTC was held in Edinburgh this year, the first “national” to be held in Scotland since the very first BUTC in 2003. Despite this, Dundee were a DNS, St Andrews fielded an incomplete side. Heriot-Watt entered but after the deadline, nothing at all from Aberdeen or Strathclyde. You must have been disappointed by all this?

I was disappointed by this but these things happen. I think that generally speaking there is growing enthusiasm within SUS clubs to go to British events but BUTC this year was a bit of a let down from a Scottish point of view.

Participation of the Scottish clubs at BUSA events is up – not least because Napier ran BUSA Outdoors 2006 and guilt-tripped everyone. Exactly forty SUS archers were at BUSA Indoors 2007 in Leeds, but even though that is the largest concentration of Scottish University archers ever seen in England (records back to 1996), that still represents only one tenth of the field. What are you thoughts about these statistics?

As I have said before, we have to encourage more SUS archers to go to these events and in particular non EUAC clubs and there is growing enthusiasm from SUS clubs to go to these events. I have only managed to go to three of the BUSA outdoor events at Lilleshall but have thought all of them were great and it was fantastic last year to see so many SUS archers there. Driving down there is a bit annoying though particularly last year when Craig from Dundee made us listen to the War of the Worlds Music in spite of repeated protests from others in the car.

BUSA Outdoors is changing to a FITA on a trial basis in 2007. Where do you stand on this issue and would SUS Outdoors ever follow suit?

To be honest from a personal point of view, I would never suggest such a change in SUS but I would be more than willing to implement it. I think that this is a necessary experiment and I think that it will go well but we have to wait and see what will happen before we can cast judgement. It may be that if this becomes permanent, SUS Outdoors will follow suit.

The Inter Regional Team event is being postponed until 2008 now. What do you think the impact of such an event would be?

I think that this is something to be embraced. More and more people are becoming keen on inter regional competitions but the practicalities are not easily overcome. I for one would like to see some further competition with our immediate neighbours, for instance, English universities previously attended SUSF Champs and it would be good to see that again even if it just a few people and obviously vice versa.

Lastly what are your archery plans for next year?

Well, due to job commitments I was not intending on taking the SUS job into next year but I have done so. This year, I hope will be a good one for SUS and one where people within the organisation look more outwith their own clubs. What has kept in archery throughout the years has been the camaraderie between the clubs. Unfortunately, I believe that this declined somewhat but it is now coming back. I am hoping to instil a better sense of organisation in the major competitions this year by ensuring that the captains are more aware of their responsibilities. On top of this, I want to see that those clubs who want them, have access to coaches, particularly ones who can take intermediate archers on further. I would also like to continue the growth of SUS Archery and also continue to try and raise the sports’ profile within SUS.

On a personal note, I would like to thank Stewart for all the help he has provided me this year in running SUS. [No probs! - Ed.]

Steve, thank you very much.