Hi! My name is Nicola and I am the Sports Development Assistant (volunteer) here at Leeds Sport! Whilst I am new to the role and the Leeds Sport team, I am not new to volunteering. Over the last five years I have dedicated over 800 hours to volunteering within the Watersports Sector.
My volunteering journey started off in 2015 when I was sailing at my local club in Manchester. I decided that I wanted to get more involved with the running of the club and was given a few jobs to do each week to help out, including helping to rig the boats and launch them. I really enjoyed this and decided I wanted to become an instructor, but I couldn’t pay for the course fees and so I made an agreement with the centre that if they pay for the course, I will continue to volunteer my time as an Instructor. My experiences grew from there and in 2016 I was awarded the Manchester Sport Young Volunteer of the Year for my dedication to volunteering within the sport sector, alongside my studies.
I continued to volunteer for the club and moved my way up the committee from Social & Events Officer, to Vice Chairperson and now to Commodore. In 2018 I won the inaugural Panerai Challenger Trophy for my ability to use sailing and windsurfing to overcome difficulties in my life, which led to a £5000 grant to go towards my training and equipment and £10,000 for my club. Now I am a Senior Instructor in Sailing, Windsurfing and Powerboating.
Although winning awards and improving my CV have both been great outcomes from my volunteer work, it’s not really what drives me to keep doing it. The connections that you build with people and seeing that you are making a change in someone’s life through what you’re doing are enough to keep me motivated and enjoying what I do.
Volunteering isn’t always a walk in the park, like with any ‘job’ it can come with its own challenges. For me it was the competition for time between my studies and volunteering and finding a balance, but I found doing volunteering little and often meant that I could manage my studies, whilst still having fun from the volunteering and sports. You just have to find a balance that works for you.
I always recommend that everyone gives volunteering a go because the skills that you develop from it and the opportunities presented are invaluable and not to mention, you’ll have a great time doing it too!
I hope to bring my past experiences to the role and help to improve offerings around campus!
If you are interested in the Sports Development Assistant post or any other of our volunteering roles, find out more on our website.