Bounce into the New Year with UCD Trampoline Club.

Rory Clarke chats to the hugely successful UCD Trampoline Club, meeting the people behind the bouncing backflips.

In recent months the UCD Trampoline Club has been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons. However, despite being embroiled in an equipment controversy with their internal gymnastics wing, the good work of the club continues. Since being founded by Andrew Cahill in 1991, the club has, for more than 25 years, promoted the art of “bouncing up and down, with a flip here and there”.

Although Public Relations Officer CJ Clarke admits that this streamlined summary is “in part…correct” she is understandably keen to promote the sport’s stellar history. “Trampoline is a discipline of gymnastics and has been an Olympic sport since 2000 in Sydney. [It’s] a really enjoyable and unique sport that can be as fun/competitive as you want it to be.”

As we begin Semester 2, Clarke encourages everyone to come down and give trampoline a bounce or two, especially any freshers who fear they may have missed the boat in Semester 1 for whatever reason. “The best thing about trampoline is that just about anyone can take part, even if you have absolutely zero experience! Our qualified coaches are on hand to help anyone and everyone accomplish their trampoline goals, whether it’s finally learning to land a somersault, or to compete a routine in front of a panel of judges for the first time.” Many people’s experience of trampoline is limited to small, domestic incarnations, which in itself limits their opinions of the sport. Certainly, it is incomparable to the real thing. Clarke herself became involved in the club having “tried out an olympic trampoline in secondary school – it was super fun!” Reputed for friendly faces, qualified coaches and worthwhile weekends away, if you have any interest in trampolining, this may the best place to finally indulge them.

Earlier this academic year, the club competed (and excelled) in the Trampolining Intervarsities, held in University College Cork. Their haul came to 6 medals and was an outstanding testament to the hard work put in by their coaches and members alike.

Semester 2 is also the time where the competitions are coming thick and fast for the club. Their planned exploits between now and May include a trip to Edinburgh for the annual Scottish Student Trampoline Open, a Colours match fueled by a desire for revenge and competing in the Irish Student Trampoline Open – the largest student run trampoline competition in Europe – in Belfast, in April.

It is the lattermost of these which Clarke highlights as being among her highlights during the year. Although the event is a serious competition and is treated as such, each year “there is a chosen charity, which clubs must raise as much money as possible. For the last two years, UCDTC has won the ISTO Charity Cup, meaning that we had donated the most amount of money to the chosen charity. Winning the cup is a great achievement, but raising a load of money for causes such as Pieta House and Temple Street Children’s Hospital, is the best part of it all. This year the charity is the Dublin Simon Community, and we will be making as much effort as possible to raise money for such a wonderful cause.”

In the run up to these competitions, the club’s regular training sessions (Tuesday 8pm-10pm and Thursday 5pm-7pm) are supplemented by further sessions to help hopefuls hone their moves, “coaches do their best to help members perfect their current moves in preparation for competitions”. The structure of competitions is, as Clarke explains, ideally suited to new members looking to consistently improve. “Members must complete a routine comprising of 10 different skills, depending on the level they compete. After competitions are over, members may work on new skills to help them move up a level!” This ladder type system facilitates development and allows members to maintain a high level of control over their own progress.

Clarke’s parting pitch is most impressive. I am modestly informed that, “for the last two years” UCDTC has been named “Varsity Club of the Year” at the annual UCD Sports Awards, an unbelievable achievement and one which they are rightly proud of. If all of this sounds like your sort of thing, or you’re just really sick of not being able to do a somersault, head down to the Sports Centre for Refreshers Day and sign yourself up!