1) You played in the game last year – how much are you looking forward to being the man leading the team out this time round? It’s somewhat of a hackneyed cliché but I will be extremely honoured to lead the team out in this year’s match. This will be the 124th Varsity football fixture and for it to be played in such a fantastic venue with, hopefully, plenty of Oxford fans cheering us to victory will be in many ways humbling, but also very exciting. 2) How much pressure did you feel in the game last year, and how did it affect you? Some players say it means you don’t get a chance to enjoy the game – how did you feel? From my experience the game almost passes you by because you spend so much time in the build up playing out the possibilities in your head that the actual 90 minutes you spend out on the pitch seems interminably short. I wouldn’t say that the pressure particularly affected me last year. Ultimately you have to realise that, whilst the tradition, the stadium and the fans make the fixture that extra bit special, you are fundamentally playing for your team-mates and the same set of guys that you have been working with all year. Your responsibility is to those around you who have shared in your efforts throughout the season and you know that those guys aren’t expecting anything other than the whole hearted commitment that you know that you can expect in return from them. Anything other than your duties as a team-mate really doesn’t matter and shouldn’t create any undue pressure. I have been involved in two varsity defeats and I missed a crucial penalty in the shoot out last year so I can only really improve on that this time round! 3) How much emphasis do you put on the Varsity – do you think it merits all the special attention it gets, or does it overshadow the season too much? I have never approached a fixture this season with the mentality that I wanted anything less than a victory so in that sense the Varsity match is simply the latest in a long list of ‘must win’ games. The Varsity match always attracts the glamour and the majority of the attention from outside observers within the Oxford community but I probably would have placed greater emphasis on our BUSA league campaign because regular fixtures against the major universities in our region is a far greater test of our ability that the one off glamour tie against Cambridge. I derived an exceptional amount of pleasure and pride from our accomplishments in becoming the BUSA midlands champions because it indicated that we had performed at a consistently high level over a sustained length of time. In addition, the way in which the standard of football at this University will be judged by those outside of Oxford will be based more on our BUSA standing than the outcome of the Varsity game. However if you were to ask this same question to the Cambridge captain you would most probably receive a very different response, although that would largely be due to their poor BUSA standing in the league below ours, which would naturally make the Varsity match the very fulcrum of their season above and beyond anything else. 4) And lastly – have you got anything special planned, such as last-minute teamtalks? And will you prepare differently to this game than any other? The aim will be to normalise the game as much as possible. We will seek to prepare in exactly the same fashion and keep to the same timetable that would be the case for any other game of the season. The more that you take the players out of their routines, the more likely you are to disrupt the processes that have contributed to our success so far this season. The team don’t need to be told that this is a big game so I will avoid making any great gestures or statements that could unnecessarily add to the tension. If we stick to our routines, maintain our composure and impose our style of football on the game I am sure that we will be victorious!
Your outdoor news for March 20, 2013:Walking Off the WarA new program created by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is helping veterans heal through the power of nature. “Walk Off the War” will provide 13 military vets with fully funded scholarships to hike the Appalachian Trail and “reconnect with the United States in a uniquely physical and psychological way.” These soldiers will not have to thru-hike exactly, but basically just take in the nature the trail affords and hopefully return to society with a “greater opportunity for success in their personal and professional lives.” The A.T. has always beckoned those that are troubled; the distance, time, self-reliance, interaction with other hikers, and the trail town friendliness have a way of washing away what ails you. This is truly a great program that hopefully will be around for years to come to help our heros recover from the harsh realities of conflicts around the world.A full list of sponsors and participants can be found here.Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent RetiringPhil Francis is hanging up his wide-brimmed ranger hat and retiring. Superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway since 2005 – only the sixth in the BRP’s history – Francis presided over the parkway’s first ever general management plan and was awarded the Department of the Interior’s Superior Service Award. Since joining the National Park Service in 1972 – DAMN! – he has worked all over the map including Yosemite, Shenandoah, Chattanooga, and GSMNP. He is a native of North Carolina, and will settle back in WNC in April. In these lean times, a NPS player with the experience of Francis will be missed.Fought the Law, and the Law WonFrom the “Is this really happening?” file comes a story about the Ogeechee River in Georgia. A judge has denied the shutdown of a known polluter of the river, saying the benefits of what the factory makes outweigh the negatives it causes to the environment. Humph. In May, 2011, the Ogeechee was the site of a fish kill that claimed 38,000 fish, all down river of the King America Finishing discharge pipe which was apparently dumping chemicals without a permit. The order states: “The legislature and the Director are both authorized by law to make these ‘guns or butter’ economic decisions, balancing the externalities of pollution – our innocent children will swim in an ocean we are allowing to contain some small quantity of formaldehyde and other pollutants — against the benefits of industry — the parents of these same innocent children have jobs and out workers including brave firefighters have fire retardant clothing.” The whole thing STINKS, and the comments section of the Savannah Now website tell most of the story.