All students know that the University of Bath’s sport brand is known as Team Bath, but less know what Team Bath involves and how and why it was formed.
The Team Bath brand was set up in the 1990’s and includes sports for students, local residents and elite athletes alike. The main aims were to supply fantastic facilities for both students studying at the University and elite athletes who were based in Bath by creating a positive working environment where all sports were located under one roof.
This was achieved by locating everything athletes require from food to fitness, and changing rooms to sports halls in one building instead of being located in several places across campus as is the case at many other institutions, thus encouraging collaboration between all of the clubs using the facilities.
There is support for athletes of all ages and levels and it is possible to for an individual to join Team Bath as a child and stay in the system all of the way through to becoming an Olympic Champion with support and inspiration along each step of the journey. There is also the offer of a ‘Team Bath athlete support package’ where those competing at BUCS level for the University may be entitled to discounted sports services (physio, massage, strength and conditioning) packages to help with their recovery after games.
From the inside, the Department of Sports Development and Recreation’s main aim has been achieved with Team Bath seen as one big family with shared services and facilities. However, whilst the name encompassed all sports, the national media immediately associated the brand with elite sports when stars such as Mark Foster and Colin Jackson were seen competing with the Team Bath logo on their outfits.
The Department has always made every effort to debunk this myth though and let the student body know that the brand is as much theirs as for the elites. The Team Bath aim has always been focussed on the ‘environment’ that people train and play in so when Sitec gave their support to the SU, the first move made by the department was to supply all clubs with kits including the Team Bath logo, not just those at the top of their profession. This meant all members of the brand felt included and respected with their shared uniforms.
However, the Department isn’t just focused on those who play sport, it also aims to encourage student development and allow people to follow their sporting dreams, whether this is playing, coaching or volunteering and whether it is an ambition to keep fit, win Olympic gold medals or follow a sports related career. There is also educational support for users, either through a formal education as an undergraduate degree or sporting education with physiotherapists and nutritionists.
The Department also work extremely closely with SU Sport and the volunteer recognition scheme has been introduced to acknowledge student’s achievements and help them prepare for future life by articulating the development of their key transferable skills they have gained through sport.
With Team Bath becoming a huge success, top level coaches were approached to look after individual sports such as Aaron James in Rugby, Pete Bush in Badminton and Jess Thirlby in Netball. Once again, the main aim was for the family environment to be kept with Thirlby coaching both the Team Bath Superleague Netball team, the most successful franchise in Superleague history, and the university netball teams.
The system meant everyone benefitted with students studying at the university receiving top level coaching and elite athletes being able to use the fantastic facilities that were created. In fact, the Team Bath brand became so successful that others soon started to follow their lead. Durham University’s sports department become known as Team Durham while Surrey changed to Team Surrey after having an overhaul of their facilities.
Despite this, Team Bath still remains unique with others being unable to create the special atmosphere. The STV at Bath started off as a concept design with all the key features that were required included, before architects were consulted to design a roof around these plans, ensuring that the arrangement of features was the priority. In contrast, new designs have been constructed the other way around with the building created first and then individual parts located within it, damaging the ability to create the special environment that is seen at Bath.
Naturally, the enormous growth and success doesn’t come without issues. It is arguable that the STV is now not big enough to be able to house everybody with an estimated 1.4 million visitors coming through the doors every year and growth unlikely on an already crowded campus. The diversity of the sports teams who use Team Bath facilities means that trying to keep everybody happy is a tough task, particularly with the range in ability and aspirations of users.
Therefore, Team Bath is much more than a university sports centre, it is one of the highest profile multi-sports institutions in the country with a plethora of world-famous alumni and facilities available to students that are second to none. The Department still keep students at heart though and student sport is seen as just as important as the elite athletes who train in Bath.
However Team Bath has originated from humble beginnings and it is the support procedures in place that allow students to train, play and recuperate at the maximum of their ability that breeds this success. Student development is seen as critical by the department with many schemes and opportunities to ensure everybody reaches their potential and receives the maximum support and benefit.
If you take a walk around any part of STV you will see everybody from toddlers to pensioners and casual sports players to elite athletes, all of whom are treated equally, looked after and cared about by the department, and this is the key to maintaining the Team Bath family.
Photo credit: Michael Powell