My passion for coaching started when I met Stephen and Ros Miller in 2015. I was very keen to participate in sport so I started attending their Athletics Throws Group. I quickly realised that sport was an area that I would like to work in and it was actually Ros that planted the seed when she asked if I had ever thought about becoming a coach. At first I was a bit dubious about the idea but the more I thought about it the more I started to think that actually I would like to become a coach. From there I started looking into doing some coaching qualifications and I completed a Level 2 Multi-Sport coaching qualification and I am currently half way through a HND Sport and Development qualification.
I started volunteering with SMILE in 2016, my first session as a volunteer was helping Rachel at a New Age Kurling competition where my main role was to officiate the matches. I remember being quite nervous prior to the event as not only was this my first experience at coaching in any capacity, this was also my first experience of New Age Kurling and my first experience delivering to those with a range of different disabilities.
I really enjoyed working this event and I very quickly realised that this was definitely the career path I wanted to go down. However, due to my inexperience I realised I had made a few mistakes at this event and I knew that the best way for me to develop and improve myself as a coach was to gain experience as a volunteer. Soon after this I was paired with Laura, one of SMILE’s Disability Sports Coaches where we would deliver a number of different sports sessions such as Boccia, Kurling, Basketball, Cricket and Tennis to different groups and a range of different disabilities. Being paired with Laura really helped me develop as a coach because I was able to see first-hand how to deliver a session and during these sessions I was able to learn a lot from Laura. Gaining this experience has helped me gain more confidence and knowledge in delivering sessions and in September 2016 I progressed to be a paid member of staff.
I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every minute of coaching so far. I have had the pleasure to deliver sport to so many great groups with a range of disabilities and to see the happiness sport can bring to those individuals is so rewarding. I have had a number of highlights so far. One of those highlights was definitely going to this years Boccia England Cup in Sheffield as Coach for Thomas Ferry. Another highlight was in December of last year I won The Chronicle ‘ Unsung Sporting Champion’ award for volunteering.
What I wish I knew 10 years ago.
I wish that I had discovered disability sport 10 years ago, both as a participant and as a coach, especially in the sport of Boccia. Two years ago I had heard of Boccia but I had no idea of how to play it or the rules involved. Now Boccia has quickly become one of my favourite sports, whether it be from a coaching point of view or volunteering as an official in Boccia England events.
My future plans are to further my knowledge and experience in coaching and continue to do a job I love. I also hope to complete my HND Sport and Development qualification and complete a top-up year to make the qualification into a degree level course. From that I hope to continue a career in sport and become a Sports Development Officer.