Tue 7 Nov 17
We’re really excited to welcome talented new athletes from around the world to our performance sport programme.
We now have more than 70 talented sportsmen and sportswomen on our programme which is primarily focused on three key sports - basketball, rugby 7s, and volleyball.
All three of our focus sports have developed and produced a number of student athletes that have represented their countries, as well as going on to secure professional contracts in their respective sports post-graduation.
Multimedia journalism student Shakiyah Branch caught up with three of these student athletes to find out about their upcoming year and balancing both studies and sports.
Catherine Lutz, basketball
Joining Essex Blades Basketball is American PhD student, Catherine Lutz, pictured top right (picture credit: Basma AlHashimi).
Catherine started playing basketball when she was seven years old. “My dad was a professional basketball player and is a coach basketball now, so getting into the sport and it becoming a passion was an easy decision,” she explained.
Currently studying sports psychology, Catherine has played in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I at Iona College and for Reading Rockets here in England. Some fans may recognise her from playing against Essex in the National Final Cup last year. She also earned the title of MVP for the league.
“I decided to come to Essex due to the combination of high academic standards and a sports performance programme that is dedicated to player development and building a positive and competitive culture,” Catherine added.
Shaun Ermi, volleyball
Shaun Ermi helped lead Springfield College Massachusetts to win their Volleyball NCAA tournament earlier this year.
Now, as he begins his Master’s degree in Business Management, Shaun will play for Essex Blades in the British University and College Sports (BUCS) Premier South and also for Team Essex in the Volleyball England Super 8 Division of the National League. Having played volleyball for nine years, Shaun understands the difficulty in being both an athlete and a student.
“It’s a challenge to find a balance between sports and studying, but I think it's through this that student athletes are better equipped after graduation. Being able to juggle a full schedule of modules and then on top of that training and matches, you learn a lot about time management and preparation,” said Shaun.
Joe Cook, rugby
Starting rugby at St Joseph’s College, Joe Cook quickly rose to the top and was captain of his side from year 7 to 11. He’s been involved with Eastern Counties, Northampton Saints Elite Player Development Group (EPDG) and U18s player academy.
After school, Joe decided to come here to study sports therapy and continue to play rugby. Joe encourages everyone to go out and try a new sport.
“Definitely do it. Sport will keep you fit and active alongside making long-lasting friendships. At first I was sceptical about uni life but being part of this sevens team has made it much easier. Being shy definitely shouldn't stop you; everyone here is in the same boat on making new friends,” said Joe.
“Sports can be a great way to get to know other people from the university who you may not meet otherwise. I would encourage anyone and everyone to join a sports team due to the bond it can make with others, the fun it can bring and you never know you may find a hidden talent which you have no idea about until you participate.”
All recipients of the Sports Performance Scholarship receive access to a package of support including: quality coach support, strength and conditioning coach support, physiotherapist conditioning screening, accommodation close to their training venue, allocated lifestyle advisor and flexible academic provision.