A Good Year

I’m sitting here preparing for my MSc graduation ceremony next week and reflecting on everything that’s happened over the last year or so and to say things have gone well would be a huge understatement!

Starting at the beginning, it was about this time last year that I took and passed my UKSCA and NSCA-CSCS accreditation as well as getting all my exam results for my MSc which were all good passes so I was obviously pleased with that.  I still had my dissertation to do which was no small undertaking but the bulk of my masters were now finished.

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August 2010 saw me attend the first British Fencing Academy in Nottingham.  This was a truly great experience for so many reasons.  Firstly I had the opportunity to spend a little over a week talking about training with some top coaches from 8 in the morning, until 10 at night, for me, this is a good way to spend a day (nerd alert!).  We also managed to fit in a lot of training in the brand new gym at Nottingham Trent University and when I say new, I mean it!  The first day we went in there they were still moving equipment in and we had to unwrap all the bumper plates to use them, good times!  Other than this it gave me the opportunity to jump in at the deep end with S&C support for a sport I had minimal knowledge of prior to the camp and to do so with over 90 athletes and 50 coaches, all of which were keen to learn as much as possible to aid their sports performance.  I was able to deliver formal lectures to the athletes, which was a little daunting on day 1 and then we spent the week testing and training everyone through various exercises and mobility drills we felt were important for their sport. It was an incredibly busy week and I was exhausted by the end of it but it was also incredibly rewarding!  We were able to really help the athletes there and have continued to support them throughout this year, we even got to see Phillip Marsh become Junior World Champion in Jordan, as I discussed in a previous article, which was unbelievable!  I am currently getting myself ready for the 2011 camp in a couple of weeks, again it’s going to be a huge undertaking, with a wider age group this time and bigger expectations as to what we will deliver, but I can’t wait!

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Throughout the summer of 2010 and into the Christmas period I continued to support Bedford Blues and their S&C Coach Jamie Bain as they began this seasons Championship campaign. I had approached Jamie when he was new to the club (having previously worked with The Ospreys) asking to spend some time helping out whilst I was in the area finishing my exams and dissertation and he was gracious enough to let me come help out whenever my schedule allowed it.  The Blues are a great club with plenty of brilliant characters amongst both the players and coaching staff.  They were able to maintain 2nd position for most of the season and reached the final of the British & Irish Cup.  The time I spent there gave me a great insight of what it takes for these guys to get up and train week in week out when the match schedule gets really busy, especially as the financial rewards are nowhere near what we see within the premiership.  I was gutted to see them come so close in the play-offs against Worcester and the Cup final against Bristol but despite missing out on any silverware this year I am extremely pleased that I was able to spend 6 months working with them and am definitely now a Blues fan.

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In the New Year I joined Hartpury College.  I had been well aware of Hartpury’s reputation as a centre of sporting excellence for a long time, partly due to growing up nearby but mainly from them being our biggest rivals when I was at UWIC (there rugby team beat us twice in the BUSA Finals at Twickenham when I interned and played there)!  I work with the Girls Rugby, Boys Golf and Modern Pentathlon Academies. I was not sure what to expect from the different Academy teams, but I soon found out that their attitudes to training and learning were second to none.  This year with Girls Rugby we managed to help 7 girls achieve positions within the England under 20 squad, as well as 1 earning a spot with the England 7’s squad, as well the team as a whole going unbeaten and winning the National Schools 7’s competition at Roslyn Park.  Our Modern Pentathlon academy have had many great results this year qualifying for some international competitions and with some big personal bests to boot and our Golf Academy capped off a great year by winning the National Schools & Colleges Competition.  The success of these academies comes from the huge amount of work and commitment they put into their training, either by arriving at the gym at 8am, or heading outside in the rain to do speed or conditioning sessions along with countless hours’ worth of extra tasks they are given by myself, their sports coach or the physios to ensure they are fully prepared to perform at their best!

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I felt the need to write this to reflect on the year that’s just gone and just some of the highlights (definitely not all of them though).  If there’s one thing I know though is that this is just the beginning for me and that this coming year is going to be even more jam packed with great moments.  I’ve got several Fencing camps through the rest of this summer, preseason with the rugby teams at Hartpury and a new intake of students to meet and these are just the things I know about!  What I’m really looking forward to now, is all the things I have not even found out about yet! Can’t wait!