"Looking for educators, coaches, athletes that have taken huge risks with their career, lifestyle etc please get in touch ASAP. Anyone?!"
I can answer on all three of the roles listed, which makes me wonder if I have a wreckless personality!
As an athlete - I used to be a footballer for two age groups, because I was quite good at it. At 14, I sustained a back injury at school and everything was over before it had really begun. One day, after a year of intense physio and chiropractic intervention, I was watching my school team play - the one I'd ended up coaching and been asked to manage, and they were losing. Some of my old 'proper footballing team mates' were in the opposition and my team were asking if I could play. I was under instruction not to do anything but gentle running, so football was out of the question but I agreed to go in goal with a bit of gentle prodding from the PE teacher. No harm would come to me because people were banned from the area, no contact would be made. All was well until my friend struck a shot that really should have gone in, but my reflex action was to save it with my leg as if controlling it; my groin ligaments went with such a sharp pain that I didn't even cry. I just couldn't walk properly. Again. That seemingly harmless risk put me back to square one, back to physio and more importantly, cemented my foray into coaching instead of playing.
As a coach - I never intended to be a coach, it just happened. When I first got the back injury, I was very very miserable and starting to not really care about anything, so the coaches from my old club invited me back to coach the younger ones. At first I refused. However, I later started out by mirroring/buddy coaching the lead and then took a separate group. Within months, I was coaching for clubs beyond my own and being asked to start up their girls teams as well as attending meetings about developing the sport. In the run up to my GCSE's, I had to say to 2 of the 5 clubs asking for me that "my Mum says I have to spend some time concentrating on school". At 16, I was offered a place in a well-known football academy without a trial but turned it down and instead stayed at school to attempt 6th form. I barely managed a year at 6th form! I wasn't committed or respectful of what I was being taught and was generally a pain. I've never been so disinterested in learning! I wrote nothing but my name and the title on the English exam, scoring a U, yet it was meant to be my top subject, alongside sport. I was (or am? does it disappear?) 'talented' in both.
I continued coaching and at 18, was working at it professionally but didn't enjoy the job or feel I was learning. A previous week, a company had e-mailed out of the blue asking if I knew any coaches that might be interested in working the summer in their boys residential academy and I'd replied to say I'd keep an ear out, then thought nothing of it. After a particularly disillusioning day the following week, I decided not to commit to the summer with the current job and to try our the 'spammers'. The train to Sussex had gone one stop (it wasn't even out of London!) when I phoned my Mum, begging her to come and pick me up because the enormity of the risk had suddenly hit me, but she pretty much refused unless I was really, really desperate! So I stayed on the train, started the job and had the best coaching days of my life, keeping a long-term relationship with the company. Two years later, I designed a girls football academy for them. The train experience underpinned every future risk I took when my confidence wavered, until Nepal.
As a teacher - I wasn't ready to teach when I finished my PGCE in July 2012. I knew how to do it, I could be technically good at it but something wasn't right. When compared to coaching, teaching was a mechanism, not a passion...at that point. I wasn't comfortable with it and this came across in interviews and general conversation. In fact, I had no real interest in education during my PGCE except to do what I thought was 'good teaching'. I tick-listed and didn't push my boundaries - I didn't take any risks!
By August 2012, I'd made my mind up teaching wasn't for me. It was a wasted year, I didn't want to do it and having no idea what to do, I booked a flight to Nepal, then looked Nepal up on the map to see where it was. I was between teaching monks in Nepal or doing a martial arts academy in China, but the martial arts had cold showers whereas Nepal promised luke warm ones, so my decision was made.
For me, Nepal was like a no-mans land. In fact, all of us who were there were seeking space to work out something, even if we didn't realise it. I found a creative teacher inside me, a responsible teacher, an enthusiastic teacher who enjoyed learning with the children. With a lack of resources such as paper and technology I was free from teaching in a ticklisted way. I came home early after getting progressively ill - most likely pneumonia - and after drifting for a few weeks, took on long-term supply because I wanted to see different schools. I lived in a hotel for my first job, Leamington for my second, Aylesbury for my 3rd and now Oxford for my 4th...but the 4th is permanent.
The 4th job is actually the same as the first, where we began the Culture Chat Project, from which I then began writing about it, then began writing about other things for various sites and magazines, before having a crack at presenting and research too. Without that time in Nepal, I'd have done none of these things. Without the original back injury, I wouldn't have been spurned on to try anything different. Not all risks I've taken worked out, but some have been life-changing. This is what sport develops; risk involves failure. You have to fail, but that failure informs your next attempt until you work out what's needed for success.
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
The Forgotten ‘to-do list’
1. Start writing letters again; handwriting carries an intimacy that a computer can’t emulate, and graphology is a dying skill. Try to make it legible.
2. Spend time with those that matter (stop spending time with those that don’t?).
3. Finish all the books that I’ve attempted to read this year.
4. Remain disciplined in gym enthusiasm. Keep the wise words of manager Eddie in mind when expecting the body to be the way it once was; I am a baby again, learning to walk from scratch.
5. Paint nails at least once a month.
6. Go and see the stars. It’s been a while. Space is one of the most inspiring things in life and costs nothing. Remember they are not “the blue things in the sky” as I once thought they were before V led me into a field with promises of The Milky Way.
* Make wishes on shooting ones.
7. Watch the 3 box-sets I haven’t watched, despite having them for months.
8. Try harder not to be shy, especially when meeting strangers outside the usual group (no need to be startled, I am not a rabbit).
9. Have the Spanish themed party and book a ticket to Seville if it’s affordable.
10. Write a poem and paint/draw a picture.
11. Don’t drink coffee right before bed. Insomnia’s a beast!
Monday, 26 May 2014
Grendon Underwood Combined School is a special, happy, thriving school which nestles along the main street of the rural village, Grendon Underwood in Buckinghamshire. From the outside it looks relatively quaint and quiet but don’t be deceived; inside is a hive of collaborative, reflective activity! As soon as you enter through the doors you feel an energy about the place and are greeted warmly not only by office staff, but also the Head Teacher and any other passing staff that happen to be in the vicinity. It is fair to say the atmosphere here is different.