Holly Tasker

Holly Tasker

  • Holly Tasker in her cricket uniform and holding a cricket bat over her shoulder

Holly Tasker (Gonville and Caius, Medicine) discusses her transformative experience as President of the Cambridge University Cricket Club.

What did you know about sport at Cambridge before you arrived at the University?

Not much to be honest. When I started, Nick Brooking, Director of Sport, was just starting too. There was a very rudimental CUCC website, but I knew that Fenner’s was historic for cricket. One of the reasons I chose Cambridge over Oxford was because I preferred Fenner’s to The Parks. I also only applied to universities that had a well set-up cricket programme, particularly universities participating in the Marylebone Cricket Club Universities programme (MCCU).  

I sent the keenest ever email to the Men’s Blues captain (I couldn’t find the women’s captain email address) listing all my sporting awards and achievements. Reading it now is quite cringe! He pointed me in the direction of the Women’s Blues captain. She sent me a brief email detailing the MCCU programme, when training sessions were, etc. 

You will make some of your closest friends ever. You will get access to facilities, coaching, and events that you will never have access to again in your life. You will be part of history.

Holly Tasker

How has sport impacted your overall wellbeing and mental health? 

More than I think I will ever realise — because I’ve always made it a priority to continue with it, so I don’t know what my wellbeing and mental health would be like without it. 

Particularly in Easter Term, when many students tend to hibernate and exist purely in the library, I found it so beneficial to have cricket to play. I would structure my revision around fixtures and training.  I would not only have a break from the library, but I would see different people and get exercise. Yes, some of the game days were long if travelling to Nottingham, but when it’s planned into my calendar, I don’t feel the need to abandon cricket. 

In 2016-17, I suffered a serious shoulder injury. Since then, the pain has been a real blot on my well-being and mental health. Being able to attend training sessions in a coaching capacity has helped me feel included. This year is my first year back to bowling in two years. It has been wonderful to be back bowling again (and having reasonable success with it too). 

What skills or habits have you gained by playing sport? 

Positive coping strategies for dealing with setbacks. When I struggle with a day, I like to go and do some bowling or have a hit on the bowling machine to take the stress of the day out! In a game situation, if bowling is not going well I have to control my mental chatter to try and get back to bowling well and not let it affect the rest of my game. 

‘Teamwork’ — not just how to work with others, but how to make the best out of a situation. When to blood new players, when to focus on winning the game at perhaps the expense of giving new players more of an inclusive experience.  Being able to work well with others is essential, in my opinion, to succeed in life. Particularly in my line of work in medicine — it would be impossible otherwise! 

What would you say to a new student potentially interested in pursuing playing Sport during their time at Cambridge? 

Do it! 

You will make some of your closest friends ever. You will get access to facilities, coaching, and events that you will never have access to again in your life. You will be part of history. You will have time away from your degree so that you can go back to it refreshed and ready to learn. It will make your life so much better. There is also so much more to life than academics. Use your time at university to better yourself and have the best time ever — don’t think that getting a 1st is the be-all and end-all.

Anything else you’d like to share about your sporting experience at Cambridge? 

I set up a podcast, called Hawk Talk, as part of my role as Access & Charities Officer in the Ospreys, with my Hawks’ counterpart. The focus of this podcast was to interview current/former Cambridge sportspeople about the impact of sport on their lives.  Guests have included Imogen Grant (GB rower), Jack Pinder (college sport extraordinaire) and Alex Petter (cycled whilst undergoing treatment for a tumour). We really hope this helped demonstrate the positive impact of sport at Cambridge, and that the podcast will continue even after I have graduated. 

Even though I am graduating, I’ve just been voted onto the CUCC Executive Committee. I still think I’ve got more to give, so I’m happy that I can try and give back even when I’m not a student. 

If I wasn’t becoming a doctor, I would want to work for the University Sport Service because it is one of the things I have found myself to feel truly passionate about. 

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