Image: Tom Boon
[Kieran Burman | Contributing Writer]
Annabel is sat at her desk, computer on and hockey ball in her stationery holder, you can see this isn’t where she’s comfortable though; she loves sport and everything about it: “There’s a buzz that playing sport gives you that you don’t get from anything else.” Office work can be fun – especially in the Students’ Union, but quite clearly not compared to sport, as far as she is concerned, and that resonates when she speaks.
Annabel glances outside, the sun is just about getting through the cracks in the clouds. Her hockey past has proved that no matter the weather she would much rather be running around; even if she doesn’t get involved as much as she wants to anymore:
“Sport is integrated into my life, I’ve grown up loving it and it has played a key role during my time at secondary school and later studied the science behind it for three years at uni, it’s more about management, theory and science now for me though.”
Annabel’s frame is bulked up by her gilet and Athletic Union (AU) jumper. Her sports leggings and Nike running trainers just about tell you everything you need to know about her: “If I am around a sport setting or doing something that could become practical, I wear my VP Activities stash (leggings, trackies and a hoody).” However, she knows when not to wear her casual sportswear:
“If I have meetings with senior management within the University or have other formal events then I’ll wear smarter clothing and get up earlier to get ready. If I have internal meetings or I’m at my desk, I’ll wear smart casual outfits as it is more relaxed in the elected officer office.”
This professionalism and ability to change persona has become second nature for Annabel, who has turned from player to coach, from coach to manager, and from manager to administrator. Class and respect is now just as much a part of her life as aggression and commitment.
Her AU hoody represents not just her passion for sport, but her personality: “I want to beat everyone else, I love winning and I believe that is what the hoody represents as well as teamwork and a healthy and happy body.”
If she isn’t playing sport or in meetings, Annabel loves to travel and likes to relax using adult colouring books. She says: “It’s important to distance yourself from your work sometimes, I like to vary it a little.” She also loves to play sport in her “spare time” so it’s not like she really takes any time off.
At 23, Annabel has a degree in Sports Science and is Vice President Student Activities at the University of Hertfordshire’s Students’ Union and has been involved with sport since she saw her brother gaining success from it when she was younger.
“My favourite sport growing up was hockey and later netball. I played hockey as I wanted to be like my older brother but it grew into a passion of my own. I love the physicality, skill requirement, the demands on my fitness and the element of risk the game has.”
She has since re-run and won her VP Student Activities election, revealing that she had unfinished business: “I decided to re-run as it took time for me to understand the role and what it was, I still feel I have unfinished tasks to attend. I also have some great ideas that I would love to see through this year.”
She believes that you should never stop doing what you love: “It’s never too late, you’re not rubbish and everyone has to start somewhere.” She never sought after being a professional but that never stopped her being the best she could be: “I wanted to beat everyone else, I love winning. During school I was the student that did every sport, I had to give everything a go. I couldn’t choose one to focus on.” She repeatedly shuffled on her chair becoming very animated while talking about people getting involved in sport.
Annabel had quite a few heroes and people that she looks up to, unsurprisingly they are sports personalities – and again unsurprisingly, sports women are something very close to her heart. “I just simply love Jess Ennis-Hill, she’s great. What she has achieved with being a new mum, re-training her dominant leg after breaking her ankle. I think she’s put women in sport on the map, something I am a big advocate of!” From a young age, Annabel has also had a great admiration for tennis legend and ‘This girl can’ advocate, Serena Williams: “She is an incredible athlete and I think her achievements are incredible. Go on the girls!” Annabel takes great pride in being a female athlete, promoting female sport around campus using her power as VP Student Activities to create an equal footing for the girls.
Female sport at the University has since grown in reputation and excelled throughout the year with the Netball first team winning their championship and the Ladies’ football team vice-captain going on to represent England in Italy with hopes to play in the European championships. Annabel no doubt had an impact on both of their successes: “I did a huge amount of volunteering with England Netball in my final year. Trying to get girls in and participating in sport at university, particularly in netball.” Her expertise and hard work has affected sport at the University of Hertfordshire in the past few years, as well as at national and regional levels. “I also volunteered my time with a local authority and worked with ‘elderly’ individuals to get them into sport.” This is something that she suggests everyone to do, get involved and help the community. You don’t necessarily have to be hugely talented but volunteering can be very rewarding and helping people get involved to feel happy and healthy is important.
You can find Annabel in the SU office or in the Athletic Union to discuss anything sports or activity related.
Annabel Mabbin (VP Student Activities) – @HertsSUAnnabel; firstname.lastname@example.org