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Grove Student Athlete Programme Interview

Published Tuesday 18th of January 2022 12:00:00 PM

Here at Woodhouse Grove we believe in supporting our students in all aspects of their lives not just inside the classroom.

Within our school community we are lucky to have so many talented sports players who have competed or been recognised at International, National, Regional and County levels.

For those students who excel in sport it can often be hard to juggle sporting commitments as well as their school and family lives; which is why we offer those students extra support through the Grove Athlete Education Programme (GAEP). This programme helps students to maximise their potential by providing them with guidance on well-being, psychology, fitness programming, physiotherapy and careers advice.

We spoke with one of the leaders of the GAEP, Miss Thompson (Head of Netball) and athletes Harriet King and Emma Okpala, who she mentors through the programme, to give us insight into what being on the GAEP is like.



How would you describe the GAEP?

Miss Thompson: ‘The Grove Athlete Education Programme is available to our “Stretch and Challenge” students, offering them an enhanced education programme that informs students of how to manage a lifestyle for pursuing excellence in the sporting arena whilst balancing their academic studies.’



What types of support do athletes on the GAEP receive?

Miss Thompson: ‘In the past we have covered sessions on diet and nutrition, drugs in sport, goal setting, time management, balancing studies alongside heavy training programmes, insight into life as a full-time athlete and overcoming setbacks. The three-tiered system aims to aid both the physical and mental development of our athletes, at the level they’re already performing at or at the elite level within their sport that they aspire to perform at.’



What do you see as being the main benefit to the student Athletes on the programme?

Miss Thompson: ‘I think that the main benefit is the sessions. They’re provided in the form of seminars, workshops, mentor meetings and Q A’s and give a holistic approach that develops the athlete in all areas. Also, those who have been a part of the GAEP in the past have heard from a range of successful sportsmen and women including our Old Grovian, Ellie Kildunne.’



What’s the thing you think is best about GAEP?

Miss Thompson: ‘Working closely with our athletes, who are all at such different stages of their journey, and seeing them work towards and achieve their sporting goals. The best part has to be seeing the athletes, get a PB, hit their goals or make the squad when you know how much hard work and dedication it’s taken!’



Harriet King and Emma Okpala also had some favourite things from their time on the GAEP



What has been your favourite aspect of the programme?

Harriet: ‘Knowing we can access the support whenever we need it off the staff is really reassuring . Also, in the past we have heard from professional athletes and getting to hear the various routes of how they managed to get to the top of their sport has been really inspiring.’

Emma: ‘Having regular meetings with staff mentors to look at our training diaries has also been really helpful and important to ensure we are not over training. When needed, the staff will also speak to our academic teachers and help us to understand when we need to take a break.’



What sport is it that you two play?

Emma: ‘We are both netballers. We have played at school since starting in Year 7. We have both been involved in the Leeds Rhinos Netball Pathway this year and we were given the opportunity to trial for the England Netball Roses Academy during the summer.’



How do you think that the programmes helped you guys with your Netball commitments?

Harriet: ‘I think that the staff involved have helped athletes throughout the school with the needs of their sport or any struggles they have had. It is great to have their support and advice, especially during busy times in the season, juggling school work and training can often build up and it’s great to be able to talk about coping strategies and time management with the mentors.’



Is sport something that you want to pursue as a career, or something that you wish to continue with after you leave The Grove?

Harriet: ‘Yes, I think I will always play netball but I want train to be a Physiotherapist when I leave.’

Emma: ‘Sport plays such a huge part in my life now I hope it continues to do so after The Grove.’
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