Our class of 2021 really are something to shout about. They’ve overcome challenges, helped others, grasped opportunities and developed their skills, showing their Essex Spirit in so many ways. And they’ve done it all during a pandemic when student life has been changed beyond recognition. We couldn’t be prouder of them so we’re telling their stories.
Tue 13 Jul 21
When Gurhan Gurses’s family relocated to the UK from Turkey in 2010 he worked hard to improve his English skills before studying accountancy, but he soon realised that wasn’t for him and he needed to chase his childhood dream of becoming a sports coach.
Today he’s graduating with BSc Sports Performance and Coaching (Including a Year Abroad).
Having played basketball at amateur and semi-professional level for over ten years, Essex, with its successful Rebels basketball teams, seemed a natural choice. But Gurhan still spent time visiting a number of universities offering coaching courses, before deciding on Essex.
As he explained: “Essex was the only university that gave me the real campus-life feeling and left me in awe with all the facilities it has.”
From his first week at University, Gurhan has been involved with Essex Blades/Rebels – working alongside the head coaches and learning everything there is to know about being a successful coach.
“I did everything from filling and carrying water bottles to video recording of the games and practices for later analysis, and from opponent player/team scouting for upcoming games to live recording of the statistics for Women's British Basketball League (WBBL) and National Basketball League (NBL) on FIBA Livetstats software,” he said.
He also relished the opportunity to spend a year abroad. Naturally, he chose America – ranked number one in the world for basketball - and studied at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
"I would recommend every single student go on a year abroad if they could. You learn, you network and you make new friends."
Gurhan was attracted to Indiana because of the wide variety of modules they offered – including disability sport, and group and individual exercise leadership - and because their sports teams are in Division 2 and he felt that would give him a broader experience, rather than working at a more elite level.
He volunteered as a student manager for the University’s women’s basketball team and says he had a great year sharing their successes. It also led to opportunities to watch NBA games – the premier men’s professional basketball league in the world - and meet NBA players.
His year also involved making friends, experiencing a different culture and travelling around – despite COVID-19 curtailing what he could do towards the end of his stay.
His advice for others considering a year abroad is to just go for it: “It opens a lot of doors for you for sure. I would recommend every single student go on a year abroad if they could. You learn, you network, and you make new friends,” he said.
Gurhan has his future mapped out: “Sport is a massive part of university life in the USA. We have a lot to do in the UK to reach that same level. I am passionate and dedicated to get a basketball coaching job here in the UK and help British basketball, in any way that I can, to reach a higher level, where we can compete with other best European teams.
“My long-term plan is to move to the USA and be a head coach for a collegiate basketball team and hopefully one day an NBA or WNBA coach.”