Meet Durham University's Netball Captain, Katie Boon!

This week’s campus celebrity is Katie Boon, a third year Geography student and the captain of Durham University Netball Team.

Have you ever thought about having a go at netball? It’s a popular female sport at Durham University, with regular training hours and a lot of commitment: the university team train five days a week, and there’s also the regular games to take into account, too. This week, we spoke to Katie Boon, a third year Geography student and the captain of Durham University Netball Team, about her experience in Team Durham and her expectations for the sport in the future.

Katie started playing sports at a young age, encouraged into it by her parents, who had also encouraged her two older brothers to take part in sporting activities. “By the time I was old enough, it made my mum’s life easier if I was taken to any activity they were involved in, and so that was the start of my sporting career.” Early on, she played football, cricket, netball and hockey, as well as swimming and gymnastics, before settling, at university, on netball. “I made the decision to remain in team sports as I enjoyed it, it gave me a reason to escape from academic work, it was a chance to bring out my competitive edge, and, more than anything, it gave me the opportunity to meet different people and personalities.” Taking a break from her academic studies seems to be a key reason for her involvement in sport, as she stresses: “I can safely say I am not sure what I would do if I didn’t have sport to escape from the stress of university work.”

Katie has been playing netball since her first year at Durham, and she never planned to run for captain of the team. “There was a large element of fear of being able to juggle a sport that trains every weekday, my degree and also responsibility for fifty girls,” she says. “However, after deliberating with the previous Captain, it was clear I was going thrive in the role and gain great satisfaction out of leading DUNC. In the end, it was an opportunity I would have been silly to let myself miss out on and I have no regrets in my decision.” When asked how she juggles captaincy and a degree, she’s very clear that “organisation is the key.” She also praises the rest of her team: “Without a reliable network of executive committee, captains and friends my job would be a lot harder.” What does she enjoy most about her role? “Seeing the hard work of the girls’ pay off and the influence that my captaincy has had on that. For me, it has been great to get to know all the girls on a personal level. As training times differ amongst the squad, the role of captain has initiated a level of involvement with all teams and individuals.”

Moving on to wider issues, I ask Katie how she thinks her sport is received in comparison to popular sports like men’s football. “When you include college netball as well as university netball, we are the largest participating female sport at Durham. This means our sport is well known and talked about amongst the Durham scene.” She feels that socials are a big part of the team’s integration with other sports. “Throughout the year we have joint socials with other sports, and this has definitely helped us become more integrated with these teams and give them an insight to what we dedicate to netball and contribute to Team Durham.” She adds: “recently, another male sports team has approached us with interest in playing a charity netball match, so there must be a level of acceptation for our sport if they are willing to join in themselves!”

When asked about whether she thinks women’s sport is becoming more popular, Katie’s answer is positive: “women’s participation in sport is definitely more prominent in the media these days.” She recently did an internship at a company that organised sports leagues, particularly netball. “It was incredible to see how this company could enable women of any ability to continue playing or return back to a sport they may have given up years ago. There is definitely an element of fear and embarrassment amongst women when getting involved in sport compared to men, but the growing companies which promote beginner team sports encourages women to get involved, making it more popular.” She adds, “I would like to think prejudice against women’s sport is lessening. However, I do believe there will always be an element of prejudice that exists. “It is an aspect of our sporting world which will continue to lessen with time as new generations are born into a society where female sports feature more greatly in the media. However, I don’t think it is something we will ever fully eradicate based on the history of male sports.”

Katie had one final comment for anyone considering joining the sporting world. “If I can give any advice, it is that all girls should get involved in some sort of sport, whatever it may be. No matter what ability you are, there is always something out there to suit you and there will be another girl just as nervous as you are to step out of their comfort zone and try something new. Put in the work to find what suits you and just go for it - I promise you won’t look back.”