I have just submitted my Masters at Durham, where I had the pleasure of spending the last year and a half as an athlete, coach, and student. A native of Maryland in the United States, I was drawn to Durham for its top-notch academics, as well as its elite hockey program. In addition to playing on Durham University Hockey women’s first team, this season I also had the opportunity to coach the women’s third team and assist with fourth and fifth team training. Below is a typical Monday for me as a student-athlete-coach at Durham.
On Monday mornings, I would get up around 8 am, make breakfast and get right to work on my studies for my Masters. As a postgraduate research student, I did not have any contact hours but instead had to complete an independent research project and write a comprehensive thesis. My work varied significantly throughout the different stages of my project, so a Monday morning may have included anything from reading journal articles, to data analysis, or writing up my findings. Around 1 pm, I would usually break for lunch and to make myself a packed dinner to bring to the sports centre with me.
On Monday afternoons, I would bike down to the sports centre at Maiden Castle to do some extra hockey training and running. After finishing on the pitch, I would head to the cafe to get another hour or so of work done for my Masters and then start to plan a training session for the women’s 4s and 5s in the evening. Planning training sessions would involve contacting the captains from the teams to discuss any focus-areas they had based on their weekend matches and speaking with the other coaches for the session to determine a practice plan that would best prepare the athletes for their upcoming matches. After dinner in the cafe, I would head out for coaching from 6-7 pm, where I would lead the session alongside other first team players, often starting with more technical and tactical training and then building into larger game scenarios over the session.
As soon as coaching was finished, I immediately switched from coach to athlete and would head into the gym for lifting from 7-8 pm with other first and second team players. Following the gym, we would have a few minutes to eat a snack and get changed and then it was back out to the pitch for our training session from 8:30-10 pm. By the end of our sessions, I was usually pretty tired and all that was left was to bike back, sometimes make a quick call to my family back home, shower, and go to bed. Although a bit busy at times, coaching, playing and studying at Durham allowed me to dedicate time to improving my hockey skills and knowledge, while pursuing a degree from a top university.
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