University sport descends on Nottingham for Big Wednesday

A volleyball match at the 2018 BUCS Big Wednesday (Credit: University of Nottingham)

In our latest look at the movers and shakers at the heart of the TASS community we throw the spotlight on the University of Nottingham’s Phil Wood – ahead of next week’s BUCS Big Wednesday.

TASS: Please describe your role at the University of Nottingham and how long have you been based there?

Phil Wood: I am the Scholarship and Recruitment Manager and TASS Lead at UoN. I have been with Nottingham for six-and-half years now.

TASS: How has the provision of sport services to elite athletes changed at Nottingham during your time at the University?

PW: We have seen an astronomical change for the better at Nottingham with the provision of world class facilities, coaches and support services for elite athletes, which has been further supported by our recognition as a TASS Delivery Site. That recognition has allowed us to deliver services to University of Nottingham students as well as up and coming talented English athletes.

TASS: Nottingham is home to world class sports facilities in 2019 – how proud are you of what you can offer to students of all abilities?

PW: Immensely proud! It’s actually great that it’s not just elite athletes who are seeing the benefits of the David Ross Sports Village and a £50m-plus investment during the last five years. All of our students involved in sport and fitness can use the facilities. Students can access our Fitness Suites across all three campuses, the Sports Injury Clinic if they need treatment and can pick up new sports through our Engage programme. There’s an opportunity to participate in intra-mural sport and, of course, represent the university in BUCS and on an international stage.

TASS: Why was it important that Nottingham invested in those facilities?

PW: There are so many reasons. We want to make sure we can support all of our students from a participation level to performance level to help them be the best they can be. Of course, this includes our scholarship, TASS and performance athletes but it also helps support the wider student body. With mental health being so important within the Higher Education sector it’s great that we can provide facilities and opportunities to support our students in having a mentally and physically healthy lifestyle whilst completing their studies with us.

TASS: As TDS lead at Nottingham what do you enjoy most about your TASS role?

PW: I enjoy the interaction with talented athletes and knowing that our team at Nottingham is playing a part – even if it’s just a small part – in helping those athletes achieve their dreams.

TASS: How does the partnership between TASS and the University benefit your student athletes?

PW: It’s a fantastically complementary relationship. TASS provides vital aspects of support for a number of our athletes including physiotherapy, strength and conditioning, lifestyle, sport psychology, nutrition and access to a phenomenal medical scheme.

TASS: And can the partnership benefit the University?

PW: Of course the partnership benefits us as it provides exposure for the university and makes prospective student athletes aware of what Nottingham has to offer.

TASS: Do more students see the dual career approach – and combining their studies with elite sport – as a viable option in 2019?

PW: I believe more and more student athletes are seeing the dual-career approach as the best way to progress both their sporting and academic – or work – careers as it’s so important now to have a Plan B if Plan A doesn’t work out. It’s also great for balance to have something else to focus on.

TASS: How closely do you work with the University’s schools and lecturers/tutors to ensure student athletes receive the necessary academic support?

PW: I would like to think we work very closely with our university’s schools and lecturers/tutors who are hugely supportive of our student athletes – encouraging them to achieve their goals both inside and outside the classroom. It’s been great to see the development and growing support that student athletes receive in terms of academic support and flexibility at Nottingham.

TASS: Which TASS/Nottingham University alumni should we be following right now?

PW: Wow, this is a hard one. I wouldn’t want to leave anyone out! To name a couple we have current athletes Tin-Tin Ho (Table Tennis) and Polly Holden (Swimming) with us right now and Maria Tsaptsinos (Table Tennis), TASS Athlete of the Year, who recently graduated with a First Class Honours degree from Nottingham. I must give a shout out to all our athletes from tennis, snowsports, lacrosse, badminton, short track speed skating, canoeing, volleyball and netball too though! They are all great!

TASS: Is there a buzz around campus in the build-up to BUCS Big Wednesday?

PW: There is a massive buzz around campus. It’s great to have so many teams involved in the big day with 16 teams already through to finals and another could still join them. I think it’s a phenomenal showcase to show what sport is about at Nottingham and, of course, at the university level as a whole across the sector. It was such an honour to be selected as the host for the centenary year of university sport!

TASS: What do you enjoy most about hosting BUCS Big Wednesday?

PW: It has to be the atmosphere. It’s a celebration of a year’s (or more) worth of hard work, sweat and tears for many athletes. Of course it is sport so there have to be winners and losers but the sheer fact they are competing on the big day is an achievement in itself. I love that so many students and staff from around the Higher Education sector come together for it too. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that we also have so many finalists!