Athletes at TASS accredited sites take a look at the Uni-athlete life

Some of the country’s rising young sports stars came together last week to find out what the next steps on the talent pathway could look like for them. Student-athletes and their Dual-Career Coordinators attended the first event of its kind at Leeds Beckett University, giving the young athletes a taster of the support and facilities received by TASS athletes. 

These athletes are currently studying at schools and colleges that are part of TASS’s national Dual Career Accreditation Scheme, which recognises their commitment to support dual career athletes who are in full-time education. 

Following a welcome from TASS Head of Network Kirsty Field, the group of athletes and teachers were given a tour of facilities. This included the S&C gym, where former TASS athlete, Olympic and Commonwealth 800m silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson was later seen training. 

The dual-career athletes, who represented at least 11 different sports between them, also joined workshops delivered by TASS practitioners in the areas of Lifestyle, Psychology and Nutrition. These sessions were interactive: the athletes reflected, considered and challenged themselves, and ultimately were better able to understand life as a TASS athlete. 

The final part of the day brought it all to life, as athletes and co-ordinators had the opportunity to ask questions of two former TASS athletes who have both moved to the next stage of their sporting careers.  

Whilst athletes took part in these workshops, the dual career coordinators joined together to discuss their roles and had the opportunity to share ideas and learn from each other’s successes. 

Rugby League star Keara Bennett received TASS support in 2020/21. She studies at Leeds Beckett Uni, plays for Leeds Rhinos and and represented England in the recent Rugby League World Cup.  

Joshua Dickinson is a long distance runner, based at the Leeds Talent Hub (supported by TASS). Josh has made the decision to move to the USA to pursue his sporting and academic goals there.  

Both athletes were able to offer great advice, advising the younger athletes to keep focused on what they want to achieve but to always try to achieve a good balance in life.  

The Dual Career day was a celebration of the scheme and the athletes who are supported. Kirsty Field, TASS Head of Network, who devised and planned the day, said:  

‘This was the first combined event that TASS has organised for athletes and coordinators from our FE TASS Dual Career sites, and it was great to facilitate a series of workshops for the athletes and best practice sharing sessions for the coordinators. All seemed to really enjoy the day and the athletes definitely made the most of having sessions with our TASS network practitioners, asking questions and really engaging in the day. Via the athlete panel and University tour sections of the day, athletes were also able to get an insight into what University life as a student-athlete is really like, hopefully enabling them to start planning for their next steps.’ 

One of the Dual Career Coordinators, Julie Kimber from Gateshead College commented: 

‘It was great to focus just on TASS and look to see how we can keep delivering the great quality that we do. I found it useful to hear how other colleges deliver the programme. It’s good to compare, to make sure we are giving the TASS students the best experience. We are passionate about supporting the talented athletes with studies and their sporting career and TASS can do this.’ 

James Ellis, from Sheffield College, explained: 

“The day was a great opportunity to share best practice with colleagues from other TASS FE sites, especially as we are fairly new to TASS.  The feedback from athletes was very good and they took a lot away from the workshops delivered by experts in their field.  This really highlighted the value of being part of the TASS scheme and hopefully there will be more opportunities for athletes like this in the future.” 

Athlete feedback was also positive. Many enjoyed the tour of the Uni facilities and the opportunity to understand what TASS support looks like. When asked what they found most useful, many said it was the nutrition workshop, where they learned about fuelling the body: 

Nutrition is really overlooked at a young age and pre-post training nutrition is essential’ 

‘I feel like it will really help with improving training and mood outside of training’ 

Another athlete found the lifestyle workshop helpful ‘because I now know how to improve by using goals’. 

The next Dual Career Day for FE institutions is on Wednesday 17th May at Coventry University.  

If you would like to learn more about the scheme, please contact: