Olympic pole vaulter Holly Bradshaw

Olympic Athlete Inspires Local Students

An Olympic pole-vaulter has been offering an insight into the life of an elite athlete by passing on her training and performance expertise to students at Stratford-upon-Avon College.

Holly Bradshaw, who competed at the Rio Olympics in 2016 finishing in fifth place, joined the College as a guest lecturer on Thursday 2 February to discuss her training and conditioning with Sport students.

Holly’s husband Paul, a former 800-metre runner who has represented both England and Great Britain, now works as Sport lecturer at the College. Aware of a gap in Holly’s training schedule, Paul took advantage of the opportunity to organise the visit.

Holly spent the day covering nutrition and analysing performance with the students. She explained: “Pole vaulting incorporates quite a lot of complex movements so I’ve been showing them how I go about studying my own technique.”

Working with young people provides Holly with a great sense of fulfilment. “This is a great way that I can give back. I love inspiring people to get involved in sport. If I can help in any way with their education and to get them motivated then that would be ideal.

“I’ve been lucky enough to acquire so much knowledge from the people I’ve worked with. If I can share that with others then I want to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Holly is temporarily recovering from surgery following a recurring injury in her Achilles tendon. Not wanting it to impact her further and cause additional issues, Holly chose to have the corrective operation early in the year, ahead of upcoming events. “This year, the most important thing to me is the World Championships in August, which will be held in the UK. When a major competition is held in my home country, the crowd is insane. It’s great to have so much home support and there’s the opportunity to get a lot of coverage, so it’s that much more important to me.”

Thankfully, the surgery was a complete success and Holly will be back to peak fitness in six weeks.

Paul Bradshaw was thrilled to offer his students the chance to learn from an Olympian. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for them to find out more about what it’s like to be an elite athlete and what it takes to compete at an international level. They are always ravenous to soak up new information and were determined to make the most of this experience, asking questions about motivation and the team that supports Holly. The insight they gained will certainly inform their own practice and have a positive impact on their own career ambitions.”

Team photo - Chinese footballers and UK college representatives.

China on Road to Football Stardom Thanks to UK Colleges

Stratford-upon-Avon College lecturer Richard Pepperell flew to China last month as part of a delegation from a consortium of four UK education providers who are aiming to help the country improve its sports education.

Richard – Stratford College’s Assistant head of department for Sport and Public Services – together with representatives from Barnet and Southgate College of Further and Higher Education, Doncaster College University Centre and New College Swindon, spent nine days travelling across China – stopping at Shijiazhuang, Hebei, Changsha, Hunan and Beijing – as part of a football partnership project. Supported by the British Council’s UK-China Innovation Challenge Fund, this £80,000 three-year venture will focus primarily on helping China develop its football coaching skills.

A diehard football fan, President Xi Jinping aims to turn his country into a football superpower, winning the World Cup by 2050 – a tall order, considering that it has only ever once qualified for the World Cup, in 2002. His strategy is to get 50 million adults and children playing the game by 2020, by making football a compulsory part of the school curriculum and providing at least 20,000 football training centres.

Along with the other consortium members, Stratford-upon-Avon College helped to kick-start this process by identifying suitable candidates for a future coach training programme.

On his return to Stratford, Richard commented, “This initial visit was really about forging friendships with our Chinese partners and gaining an understanding of the skill level of the students. We had training sessions with them and the footballing talent and level of commitment we saw were truly impressive.

“Who knows – maybe during the course of the project we’ll discover another Messi!”

Richard, together with another member of staff and two students from the College, will visit China again in October with the rest of the consortium team, to kick off the coach training programme.

College Team Runs Away With Victory

Four students from Stratford-upon-Avon College braved wet and boggy conditions to excel at the Annual Wiltshire Schools’ Athletic Association Cross Country Championships on Saturday 23rd January.

The competition, hosted by Stratford-upon-Avon High School, tested the runners’ stamina and determination over a gruelling 5 kilometre course. Undaunted, 17-year-old Issie Davies, from Warwick, left all competition in her wake to take home the Senior Girls’ Gold Medal.

As if this wasn’t enough to celebrate, a team of boys combined their efforts to yet more success. Joseph Proctor, 18, from Coventry, Stan Doxey, 18, from Kenilworth and Sam Weaving, 17, from Hampton Lucy won the Senior Boys’ race and claimed Team Gold.

Both achievements are especially impressive considering the College has only launched a cross country team this year. This week, College Principal and Chief Executive Nicola Mannock presented the athletic students with their winners’ certificates.

Issie and Stan will now represent the county at the English Schools Athletic Association Cross Country Championships in Nottingham taking place on Saturday 5th March.

Sport Lecturer Paul Bradshaw, who has competed as an 800 metre runner for both Great Britain and England, is thrilled with the students’ success. “Cross country is a newly-introduced sport to the College. These students are real pioneers; they’re leading the way for similar fantastic achievements in years to come.”

Issie, who studies Health and Social Care at the College, said… “I can’t believe I came first! There were times when it was really tough going but I was determined to run my very best. I was representing the College, so the Gold Medal is not just for me but for everyone at the College.”

Stan, a Level 3 Sport student, also expressed his delight at having won and added “All three of us are thrilled to have taken the Team Gold. And for me, to be representing Warwickshire next month will be a huge honour. I just hope I can run as well then as I did today and bring back the Gold for the county!”

College Students Race to Success In Cross Country Championships

For the first time ever, Stratford-upon-Avon College entered a cross country team in the West Midland Colleges Cross Country Championships.  In their very first attempt at the regional contest, the men put in such a fine performance that they gained a Bronze medal in the team competition.

This year’s Championships took place on Wednesday 11 November at the National Sports Centre in Lilleshall, Shropshire.  The students’ aim was simply to enjoy the novelty of racing in the championships and to use the experience as a platform for improving their fitness over the coming months. However, they achieved more than the College could ever have expected.

In addition to being awarded Bronze as a team, there were some remarkable personal success stories. In the men’s event, Stanley Doxey, a 17-year-old Level 3 Sport student from Kenilworth, ran a tremendous race, achieving a fantastic top 10 finish in the West Midlands region. Finishing in 9th position – just one place outside of the top 8 positions required to qualify for the national championships later this year – Stanley is now first reserve for the West Midlands team, a magnificent achievement for his first regional competition.

Stanley was modest about his success. After the race, he commented: “I enjoyed the course. I am a little disappointed with 9th but it was a great day”.

Stanley was followed home by Sam Weaving, a 17-year-old Level 2 Sport student from Warwick, in 18th position; Joe Proctor, 18 from Coventry, also studying Level 2 Sport, in 22nd; Clarence Monk, an 18-year-old Level 3 Public Services student from Evesham, in 28th; and 17-year old Jake Ackrill from Warwick, also studying Level 3 Public Services, bringing the team home in 30th.

Representing the College for the first time in the girls’ race were Stephanie Schneider from Stratford-upon-Avon and Lucy Tucker from Evesham, both 17-year-old Level 3 Sport students. They supported one another greatly around the 4km course and completed it in a time of 33 minutes, finishing a strong 17th and 18th place.

Paul Bradshaw, Sport lecturer, said: “Never have I been so proud of a group of students. Their effort on the 3rd lap was clear on all their faces. They were giving absolutely everything they had and they all showed great levels of maturity and character”. He stressed how hard the College works to develop the students’ abilities and continued: “The students have all had fantastic support from their respective athletics clubs outside of College, and also within College with the setting up this academic year of Wednesday’s Run Club. We have unearthed some hidden talent.”

Paul summed up his delight at his students’ efforts. “Overall, the performance of all the runners was simply outstanding. Everyone tried their best and can be justly proud of their achievements on the day.”

Triathlon Triumph For College Lecturer

Karen Riley, BTEC Sport and Uniformed Public Services lecturer at Stratford-upon-Avon College, did herself and the College proud by coming second in the Stratford 220 Triathlon on Sunday 10 May.

The Stratford 220 Triathlon is a challenging, but always enjoyable, event aimed at all abilities, from complete novice to club and professional triathlete, as well as charity and fun competitors, and this year’s event – held in Southam due to the current refurbishment of Stratford Leisure Centre’s pool – marked its 20th Anniversary.  It started with a 400-metre swim, followed by a 20km cycle course around the undulating Warwickshire countryside, before culminating in a 5km run around Southam College grounds, which was great for the spectators who were able to see all the action.

Karen managed to finish all three disciplines in a very impressive time of 1 hour 9 minutes 55 seconds, beating the rest of her College team – including a former Royal Marine – by 20 minutes.

She described her preparation for the event: “I tried to get in around eight hours of training a week in the run up to last Sunday. I’d swim sometimes before work and I’d cycle to and from work. I also train with a club which involves a lot of running and cycling. My family came to cheer me on and they ran across the finishing line with me which was great.”

Karen has been taking part in triathlons since 2009 and has competed for Team GB in several countries including Turkey, Israel, Holland and Spain. Asked about representing her country, she commented: “It’s such a great feeling. You get to take part in the opening and closing events, and the awards ceremony is absolutely amazing.”

Her next major event is on Sunday 24 May in Rimini, Italy. As part of Team GB, she will race in a gruelling Half Ironman contest involving a 1.9 km swim, a 56km bike ride and finally a half marathon run. This will be only the second time Karen has competed in a distance of this length. “I’ve been very used to sprint triathlons which are very short and take just over an hour to complete but this will take five and a half to six hours.”

The College is proud to have such an excellent and committed athlete on its staff and delighted at her achievements. We wish her the very best of luck in Rimini!

Footballing Ambassador Tackles Discrimination with Youth Reachout

Former professional football player Terry Angus visited Stratford-upon-Avon College on Monday and spoke to Level 3 BTEC Sport students about equality and diversity across professional sports.  He delivered a dynamic and engaging session that made the students consider the issues and had them in stitches with his sharp-witted delivery style.

Terry’s long career saw him making over 350 league appearances playing for Northampton Town, Fulham, Slough Town and finally Nuneaton Borough from 1998-2006. He now works with the Professional Footballers Association (PFA), the union that represents professional football players, as their Equality and Diversity Manager.  The College invited him to give a talk as part of its commitment to an equality and diversity policy which advocates a zero tolerance approach to all forms of prejudice and discrimination.

Terry firstly outlined his career path from lower league professional and non-league semi-professional, through working with young offenders, to his current role with the PFA.  He discussed his work as Equality and Diversity Manager, using real life examples from clubs such as QPR.

BTEC Sport student George Clayton said: “It was a really interesting session learning all about Equality and Diversity in all lines of sport. My particular specialism is Cricket.  I think the more people that are aware of equality and diversity issues the better.”

BTEC Sport student Jamie Grant found Terry’s talk particularly inspirational:  “I personally got a lot out of today’s session as I coach sport to children with special needs. Terry has given me some ideas of how to improve my interactions.  I want to continue to work with children and Terry has inspired me.  That’s what I want to be!”

Terry explained: “Today was a great session. The group were really responsive and keen to gain knowledge.”

“I usually work with sports pros and scholars but when the request came in to our head office from the College, I jumped at the chance to come in to speak with the Sports students.”

“There is not a huge problem with equality within young people as they have grown up with diversity, but sessions such as these make people aware of the issues and help to grow awareness.”

“I have particularly enjoyed speaking to the students about careers in sports and what it takes to get to the top. I think young people can lack motivation but I discussed battling through issues and getting passed problems; being the best you can be with no excuses.”

BTEC Sport lecturer Richard Pepperell was very enthusiastic about Terry’s visit:  “Terry was an outstanding speaker, who delivered a thoroughly enjoyable, interactive session.  Our students gained a unique insight into how football is trying to embrace equality and diversity. The students could not have enjoyed this session any more.”

Christmas Comes Early as College Gets Back to Winning Ways

Christmas Comes Early As College Gets Back To Winning Ways

Stratford upon Avon College 4 – 0 Worcester Sixth Form

After three straight league defeats, Stratford-upon-Avon College finally got back to winning ways with a much improved performance against the league’s bottom team, Worcester 6th Form College.

Stratford dominated the game from the first whistle to the last, passing the ball with a calmed assuredness that had been severely lacking in previous weeks.

Despite owning around 75% of the possession and territory and with level 2 Sport student Steven Boyce hitting the bar and Level 3 Sport students Lewis Califano and Arron Windsor getting close, it took nearly 30 minutes for Stratford to break the deadlock. The seemingly tireless central midfielder Boyce played a perfectly weighted through ball to Califano who beat the offside trap and slotted the ball under the advancing goalkeeper.

Following the string of poor performances, Stratford coach Richard Pepperell took the opportunity to make a number of changes throughout the game which, despite keeping fresh legs on the pitch, probably interrupted the team’s attacking flow a little. Pepperell however did not mess around too much with the defence. With central defender Jamie Grant, winning man of the match with a confident performance, and the addition to the squad of Lance Potter in goal, Stratford never looked like conceding.

In the second half, a similar pattern occurred, but while the game was at 1-0, Stratford seemed vulnerable. Thankfully, 15 minutes into the second half, a long ball from right winger George Spilsbury set free Freddy Murphy, playing on the left wing. Murphy controlled, rounded the keeper and rolled the ball home to make it 2-0.

Stratford’s play instantly relaxed. Soon after, right back Dan Batchelor delivered a cross to Boyce who was waiting to drill a half volley that was still rising as it hit the back of the net. The final goal was Murphy’s second. This time it was Boyce who turned provider, flicking the ball through for Murphy to finish with aplomb.

The result sees Stratford move back up to second place in the league, just one point behind Birmingham Met’s Stourport campus as the matches stop for the Christmas break.

Stratford’s next game is on the 21st of January as they travel away to Heart of Worcestershire College’s Worcester Campus. On the same day, the B team host a festival at Stratford Town Football Club and the rugby team will be involved in a festival in Moreton Morrell.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL TEAM SECURES NEW SPONSOR

College Football Team Secures New Sponsor

Jewsons are the proud new sponsor of the Stratford-upon-Avon College Football Academy.

The two organisations already have an excellent working relationship as Jewsons supply the College with their building materials for the Construction Academy courses. Now the relationship has grown to include the sports teams.

Stratford-upon-Avon College’s sports courses have grown exponentially over the last three years, so that they now have over 50 students on sports courses and are able to field two men’s football teams, a ladies’ football team and men’s rugby team.

Sport and Public Services programme leader, Richard Pepperell said ‘This is an important step in the evolution of the sports academies at Stratford College. Five years ago the College didn’t even run a sports course. Three years ago there were only eight students and now it is a vibrant, successful part of the College that is simply going from strength to strength. We thank Jewson’s wholeheartedly for their generosity and hope that we can do them proud in all competitions.’