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Friday, October 22, 2021

UC Davis Hurling Club brings international sport to Davis

Those students bored of the typical athletic teams now have the opportunity to join a sport most Americans have never heard of.

Hurling, a combination of many sports, is an ancient and fast paced Irish sport with centuries old origins.

James Daly, a junior English major and captain of the UCD Hurling Club describes the sport as a mix of basketball, soccer, hockey, lacrosse and field hockey. The sport uses rugby goal posts as well as soccer nets beneath the posts. Players use a paddle-like stick similar to those used in field hockey to pass the ball and score goals.

Carson Conner-Collado, a senior neurobiology, physiology and behavior major said hurling is “a very fast-paced, hard-hitting” combination of the sports Daly mentioned.

The team formed recently as a result of several players’ initiatives to start a hurling club in Davis. They established a Facebook group and students quickly started expressing interest in forming an official team. The Davis Hurling Club continues to attract new members, many of whom have walked past a hurling practice and have been drawn into the sport.

“The sport really sells itself and everyone has started coming out,” Daly said.

Almost all UCD hurling players have no hurling experience and many come from a wide range of sports backgrounds.

Mitch Hennessy, a sophomore political science and economics double major played 13 years of baseball as well as tennis, golf and crew before joining the hurling team.

“It just felt natural to me to play this sport,” Hennessy said. “I can incorporate skills from every other sport I’ve played and use them in hurling.”

Hennessey’s roommate first told him of hurling. Together they found the UC Davis Hurling Facebook page and decided to join the club.

Conner-Collado also had soccer basketball, crew and track and field experience before joining the team. He had recently returned from a trip to Ireland where he learned about the sport. He was one of the few that walked by a hurling practice and became interested in joining.

A good hurling player has the ability to persevere, Conner-Collado said. “It’s a big field and there’s always going to be someone better than you because no one grew up playing it around here,” he said.

Hennessy thinks the best hurling players need more speed and endurance than a typical athlete.

“[They’re] faster than everyone bigger than [them], and bigger than everyone faster than [them],” Hennessy said.

Daly thinks that physical toughness is key to succeeding in the sport. “It’s a tough sport, there are a going to be injuries and bruises,” Daly said.

Daly is the only team member with hurling experience. His father is from Ireland and he initially learned the sport at the Irish Center in San Francisco. He then started a club in San Francisco with several friends.

Hurling is still catching on in the U.S., Daly said. Though it has always been popular in heavily Irish cities in the U.S., it is now also gaining popularity among college students – both men and women.

The UC Davis Hurling Club is currently focusing on playing the two other hurling teams in the area – UC Berkeley and Stanford University.

They have a preliminary date set for May 16 at Stanford.

For more information about joining the team, visit their Facebook group or their website, Davisculchies.bravehost.com.

KELLY KRAG-ARNOLD can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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