Fundraising with the Women’s Hockey Club

Picture of the women's hockey committee
This semester, the University of Leeds Women’s Hockey Club have been very busy with lots of charity events and they don’t intend to stop!

Raffle Prizes

They started off the term with Race Night, the annual fundraiser hosted by the women’s hockey club. It’s a night of horse races, a raffle and lots of fun to raise money for SUDEP ACTION (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy). The hockey club puts a lot of effort into giving to this charity, as tragically they lost a member of the club Emily Sumaria, to epilepsy 5 years ago.

There was lots of support for the event, with the men’s hockey club attending to help raise money.  Local companies were very generous, donating a wide range of amazing raffle prizes. The Community Secretary even donated her house in Portugal for a week! Loads of people were vying for the coveted raffle tickets, resulting in lots of happy winners.

The evening, held at Grovesnor Casino, was a huge success and the club managed to raise over £1000. This was a great event to kick-start the fundraising for the year. Shortly after this, they completed the annual Channel Swim Challenge. This is a challenge where the club swims the length of the channel collectively, at The Edge swimming pool. With 27 girls taking part this year, they managed to swim the equivalent of 2 and a half channel swims. One of the girls, Sadie Abel, swam the whole distance of the channel on her own, which was a tremendous achievement!

members of the hockey club in the swimming pool holding a SUDEP charity banner

Throughout the term, all 8 women’s hockey teams held Macmillan Coffee mornings. Getting the teams together with lots of cake was definitely a welcome idea and they managed to raise over £500. The last charity event of the semester is the ‘Hockey Hot Pot’. This is where each person puts in £3 and the teams have to cook a meal for their squad using as little money as possible. Whatever is left over is then donated to charity.

So far, the total raised is £4216. Their target for the year is £17,000, we’re sure they’ll achieve this and beat last years total of £16,687!

Girls hockey team with cakes

If you would like to help the club reach their target and donate to a very worthwhile cause click here.

Athlete of the month: December

Winter often proves to be one of the toughest seasons for athletes. With shorter days, waking up in the dark and finishing training in the dark can be difficult for even the most determined sportsperson. 

Steph Williams from the University of Leeds Swimming Team is use to the early starts and late finishes demanded by performance sport and has managed to make the most of  her time in the darker months.   

What’s your sport?

Swimming, my main events are 50m and 100m freestyle and 50m butterfly.

What is your training schedule?

I’m in the pool five to six times a week and have two strength and conditioning sessions. I had been preparing for short course BUCS in November, so we were doing a lot of speed work at training whilst also focusing on technique and refining race skills.

What S&C training do you do?

I go to S&C twice a week. For the first few weeks, sessions were aimed at building whole body strength whilst concentrating on having good form. In the lead up to competition there’s been a switch of focus to generating more speed and power, moving lighter weights fast. At the end of each session we do a series of core exercises which I find hard, but a strong core is really key area to work on as a swimmer as it helps you maintain a good body position in the water.

What is your favourite exercise?

One of my favourite exercises are back squats. They’re good for building strength in my legs which help my swimming because I can increase the power I can get off my dives and turns, which are both important aspects of my race, especially as a sprinter.

What is your least favourite exercise?

My least favourite exercise is probably TRX rows because I’m always aching from them the next day!

How do you feel S&C has helped you develop as an athlete so far?

S&C has improved my performance as a swimmer as it’s building my dynamic strength and core stability which I know is helping me progress towards the goals I want to achieve. I really enjoy having a set program that allows me to see the progression I make through the weeks and I’m looking forward to seeing even more benefits after Christmas during long course season.

Ben has been working to help develop a strong sports specific training program for Steph and the swimmers. Unlike many of the other performance sports that receive S&C coaching swimming is not a weight bearing sport so requires a different approach to muscular strength and endurance. He told us more about Steph’s training programme:

“Steph has made a solid start to her land training programme so far this year. After setting a strong movement skills foundation and mastering basic calisthenic exercises in the first training cycle, she is now focusing on maximum lifting velocities. This is possible through training with a lower volume, using exercises like Jump Squats and Medicine Ball Slams. The overarching goal with Steph is to put her in the best possible position to swim fast.

As she is a sprint specialist her programme will focus on developing her ability to produce force and propel herself through the water. Strength work will feature in the form of Squats, Pull Ups and pressing movements, alongside continued commitment to developing the capacity and control of Steph’s core. She will also be progressing in her gymnastics-style callisthenics work to hopefully provide her with strong and stable shoulders that can thrive on the high-volume nature of her swimming training. I’m looking forward to working with Steph throughout the year and seeing her continued progression in both the gym and the pool.”

We look forward to seeing more great results from Steph in the new year!

The Edge wins ‘Education Facility of The Year’ at the National Fitness Awards 2018

We are proud to announce that Sport & Physical Activity, The Edge has won ‘Education Facility of The Year’ at the National Fitness Awards 2018.

The National Fitness Awards is an annual event which recognises excellence and achievement in gyms throughout the country. The Education Facility of the Year category is aimed at gyms which are based within a school or college or on a university campus.

The University of Leeds beat some stiff competition from six other shortlisted institutions including Coventry University and the University of Edinburgh

Shortlisted gyms have all been scored on being able to offer a  wide range of excellent facilities, with staff engaging with students, staff and the wider community; successfully spreading the positive word of health and fitness to the younger generation. Judges have shortlisted Sport & Physical Activity and scored The Edge highly based on the rage of equipment and group classes available, as well as how as a service we are able to support a range of sports clubs and elite athletes, and how The Edge facility enhances the experience of those living and working on campus.

Suzanne Glavin, Head of Sport & Physical Activity had to say …

“I’m delighted for the whole team who work tirelessly to provide a great experience for all our users. It’s especially pleasing that the award recognises not just the range of our facilities but how we engage students, staff and the community and how we are successfully spreading the word about health and fitness. This effort is in line with our new joint emerging plan “Do What Moves You” which will be published in January 2019″.

This fantastic achievement builds on The Edge being runner-up in the ‘Group Exercise Gym of the Year’ at the 2017 awards.

National Fitness Awards’ event director Judith Halkerston said:

“All our winners have had an arduous journey to this point – the standard of entries seems to just get stronger year on year and every facility that walked away with an award should be extremely proud”.

University Celebrates Sport Scholars

The University of Leeds Sports Scholars have been awarded their scholarships by the University chief operating officer, Tim Peakman, and chief financial officer, Jane Madeley at a special reception evening.

Over 60 students studying a variety of courses, from Medicine to Geography, are all supported by the Sport Scholarship Programme to help and guide them in achieving their goals to the highest of their ability, both within their sport and their academia.

One student who was celebrated this year is Joanne Pettitt, who is studying Physician Associate Studies and has represented team Scotland at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games at netball. She has also represented Scotland at the European Championships in 2017 and the European World Cup Qualifiers 2018.

“I have been lucky enough to represent Scotland in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and at the 2015 netball world cup in Sydney”.


Sam Dickinson has also been awarded a sport scholarship following a successful year in triathlon. He was a late starter to the sport, but two years after his introduction he became British junior champion and topped the table at the British Triathlon Super Series in 2015. In 2016, he won silver at the ETU European championships and represented GB at the ITU World Championships. This year he won silver in the U23 elite race at the ITU World Championships on the Gold Coast.



The university has over 60 scholars competing from a vast variety of sports, from rugby players to snowboarders, competing at a range of competitions throughout the year. The scholarship programme gives each athlete a personalised package of support to meet their individual needs. This includes a personal mentor who helps ensure that they are managing and maintaining a healthy balance between University work and sporting committments.

Scholars also receive free access to The Edge, to help aid with their fitness, sport and wellbeing. A personal programme of nutritional advice, physiotherapy and strength and conditioning training, as well as a bespoke bursary to ensure they can manage their financial demands of performance sport.

This year a dual career policy has also been introduced.

Dual Career Policy

The University of Leeds dual career policy seeks to ensure that our student-athletes who are training, competing and studying at the very highest level have the support in place to allow them to succeed. The policy allows them to achieve their sporting and educational aspirations without sacrificing one to be a success in the other. You can read the full policy on the Student Education Service website here.


Take a look at all our Sport Scholars below and find out more about our Sport Scholarship programme online here.



Eat, Sleep, Coach, Repeat

My name is Jordan, I am 24 years of age and in my 6th and final year of Medicine and I’m also a Rowing Coach Scholar here at the University of Leeds. In order to take on this role I have recently completed my Level 2 qualification and I coach my peers week to week in a voluntary capacity both on the water and in the gym.

 I have always enjoyed roles which have involved teaching and coaching from my mid-teens. During my recent years in medical school I have found it rewarding to engage with lower years and assist with the development of their clinical education. I joined rowing two years ago in my 4th year of university. After managing to make the performance squad in my novice year I maintained this into my first senior season last year. I felt that I learnt a lot about rowing in my senior year and grasped the key concepts of how to make a boat go fast.  This gave me the confidence to start to interact with novices and other senior rowers about technique later in the year and pass on my knowledge to them. The club suggested an opportunity that I take up a coaching scholarship position, which I have not regretted.

 I’m currently working mainly with the novice men’s squads and I have also been involved in some water sessions with the novice women. In addition to this I run the Monday club circuits and assist Dan Grant (Head of Rowing) with Thursday evening conditioning circuits. I’ve found this opportunity has given me a similar rewarding experience to that I had experienced in teaching clinical medicine.

On the Coach Scholar programme I have developed communication skills ranging from motivating athletes to negotiating training programmes with the athletes’ needs in mind. Furthermore, I have learnt how important personality characteristics both from athletes and myself can contribute to the success of training sessions and performance in competitions. Finally, I have been able to develop techniques and skills which are transferable to my future career as a medical practitioner.

I think with anything that you take up, as long as you are motivated and enjoy what you are doing then you will succeed and stay committed to it. I think this is very relevant to success in sport and life in general. Currently, my engagement hours for placement are around 40 hours a week, 95% of this is clinical and so a lot of my learning is spent on placement rather than bringing work home with me and spending time in the library. Outside of my course I am co-captain and part of the senior men’s performance squad where I’ve managed to secure a place in the 1st VIII during the autumn season. This level of participation in the sport requires around 18 hours of training per week. Most of these are early morning sessions and so are not hard to make. Finally, as a scholar I spend from three hours to eight hours per week on coaching. This semester alone I have clocked up almost 70 hours of coaching!

This may seem like a lot of work to some people and the question comes about, when do I socialise? A lot of this comes down to priorities. I have found that I tend to go on less nights out which is more of a personal choice (when you get to 24, your body cannot keep up with some of the 18/19 year olds that I train with). Furthermore, I have a good mix of friends in rowing and in medicine. This means that when I am training, often I am also socialising with friends. Finally, my friends from medicine I have known for six years so are very understanding of my training commitments and support me where they can.

The coaching scholarship also provides you with good training as well as experience with balancing tasks and deadlines and prioritising the time frames in which these need to be completed. The Coaching Scholarship is a really rewarding way to give back to your sports club at university especially if they taught you the sport. Furthermore, it helps you develop skills which are transferable and very relevant to real world jobs, not just coaching.

If you want to find out more about our volunteering scholarships and how to get involved head to the Coaching Scholar webpage.

It’s only the beginning

Karate scholar Amber reflects on taking up a brand new sport at University, the challenges she faced as she felt her body failing her and bouncing back after some life changing news.

I’ve always been an active person, but during my teens I had a bout of ill health which caused me to stop exercising for almost 10 years. When I came to University, I wanted to start exercising again to improve my health and fitness and make me feel powerful, to regain my strength and confidence. I eventually settled on Karate in my second year as it suited my busy schedule.

Karate amber

My first session involved a lot of strength training; I was surprised at how much I could actually do. Immediately I fell in love with how good it made me feel.
I always thought a sport like Karate would be too tough for someone with a petite persona like me, but after that first session I was hooked and got involved in everything I could.
I joined the committee, graded every chance I got and participated in every competition available.

In my fourth year, I achieved my first brown belt. I was working hard and progressing well, but something wasn’t quite right. My body started to fail me and I couldn’t keep up with the sessions or my studies. I was referred to many different specialists to try and work out what the problem was.

It was during this time that BUCS Nationals was being held. This is the biggest competition of the year, involving universities and colleges from all over the UK. I didn’t want to miss out and managed to get myself to a stage where I could attend the competition, but I had to wear a full back brace for support which left me with limited movement.
Somehow, I went on to win the category on unanimous decision, becoming ‘Female Intermediate National Kata Champion’. I’ve never been more proud of myself than that day. I still don’t know how I managed to pull it off!

I felt like I could take on anything the world threw at me and worked hard to get back on track physically. My hard work paid off – I earned a spot on the national team, represented my association at world champs and received various awards at the 2016 Sports Colours.

Amber Brennan Medal

After this, I was finally diagnosed with ‘Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome’, which is a genetic fault, making my connective tissues weaker. This causes a whole host of problems such as joint dislocations, extreme hypermobility, fatigue and joint pain. This condition isn’t recognised as disabling in the sporting world, as being hypermobile is often seen as a bonus.

Even though this was life changing news, this was not the end of my athletic career, but only the beginning. I wasn’t ready to give in; I went on to win a European Bronze medal in the Female Team Kumite (Fighting) later that year. I’ve also represented England multiple times. 

I still have problems that can affect my training. When I started CDT Fluid Dynamics, I was at a point where I would sneeze and my hip would dislocate. I had to walk with a stick.

A year on, I’m working hard in S&C sessions and I’m now a Sports Scholar here at University. This allows me to compete at the highest level whilst studying for my degree.

The point is: to get back up when you are knocked down; take care of yourself when you have to; and never think that you can’t achieve something because of who you are.

This girl can, and so can you.

If you feel inspired by Amber’s story and want to take up a new sport yourself, have a look at what’s on offer here.