Image Credit: Paul Appleyard
“I was never really focused on the netball,” admits Jess Cleverdon. She is — perhaps worryingly — the president of Langwith College Netball Club. “I never really played netball until halfway through second year. I was just trying to be cool!”
Cleverdon is possibly being a little too honest, but it allows the LCNC president to explain what her previous role at the club was really like.
“I was social sec for Langwith College Netball Club last academic year. We have 150 social members. Social secs get help from the rest of committee,” she says. Nevertheless, responsibilities come down to her when the club are out on their Wednesday socials.
Speaking about the ethos of the club, she says: “It’s such an inclusive culture, so many good girls. No one takes themselves too seriously, everyone’s up for a laugh. Each week, we do ‘W**ker of the Week’. Celebrating people’s mistakes and making everybody else feel a bit better about themselves.
“For a laugh,” she says, when I ask why she ran for social sec in the first place. “I like bossing people around, and I like drinking. I did win best social member in first year. It almost felt like destiny. So I thought I’d run, and was very luckily voted in to the role.”
Asked what the ideal social sec is like, Cleverdon says: “You’ve got to be fun, enthusiastic, organised, and charismatic. I think you also have to be approachable. You have to be kind of narcissistic as well. You also have to be willing to take a joke and have people laugh at you. If you’re not willing to embarrass yourself, nobody else is willing to embarrass themselves.”
There are clearly a number of benefits to being social sec at a society. It doesn’t tend to be the most popular role at elections without good reason. But what is the best part of the job?
“I think it’s definitely making friends,” says Cleverdon, LCNC’s now-president. “You get to make way more friends than you would if you were just solely a social member and not on committee, because you actively have to make the effort with people. And people come to you as a first point of contact — accidental welfare officer and an accidental friend.” Very profound.
I ask her again what attributes the ideal college sport social sec possesses, keen to see whether she will answer in the same vein as she did before. “Me,” she says abruptly. “I am the embodiment of social sec.”
Her advice to college sports players considering running for social sec at their team’s next elections is simple. “Definitely do it. It’s such a good experience. It opens other doors. I don’t think I would have become president if I hadn’t been social sec. Socials don’t end on a Wednesday. You’re social sec every day of the week.”
Social secs rightly get a reputation for being the joker of the pack. But should freshers look up to them as role models and model members of the sports club? I ask Cleverdon whether freshers should look to her? Her reply is swift.