Tue 12 Sep 23
Essex Rebels student stars travelled 5,500 miles to represent England in a crunch volleyball tournament which was shown on national TV.
Sadly they fell at the final hurdle but the players have vowed to build on the "dream come true"
The performance athlete scholars were overseas for 10 days and are back on home soil training for next season – which tips off on Thursday.
Sports Performance and Coaching student Thomas Jefferson said: "The tournament was very successful and as a team we accomplished lots in a short space of time.
"The highlight of the trip being that we finished third and the squad was able to experience a completely new brand of volleyball one which we will take inspiration from.
"The Asian volleyball style of volleyball is one of speed and flare and at times in the tournament was quite overwhelming for us however, if harnessed could become an exciting development into our game."
He added: "The volleyball the city of Mungyeong we stayed in was vibrant and welcoming which made for a great experience.
"For many this was the first time they saw true Asian culture and it was amazing.
"We look forward to future opportunities to play internationally and hope that this event will become a reoccurring trip and next year we aim for Gold."
His thoughts were echoed by Thomas Shatimehin, who is also studying Sports Performance and Coaching, said: "Playing for the England National Volleyball team was a true honour and a dream come true.
"The journey to South Korea was filled with memorable moments and experiences.
"From competing at a level playing for Essex Rebels to representing my country on the international stage, getting to watch the South Korean National team was amazing seeing how they connect with each other on the court."
Both players are studying through the university’s sports scholarship programme, which supports athletes through their studies and helps them fulfil their potential.
Budding athletes offered fee reductions on courses, access to state-of-the-art facilities, performance coaching, the option to live in the newly dedicated Athlete Village.
Susy Davies, Performance Sport Manager at Essex Sport, said: “We are immensely proud of Tom and TJ for being selected to represent the Volleyball England Senior Men's team.
“It is a testament to the work that they put in throughout the season, striving for excellence.
“Scholar athletes at Essex are shining examples of our performance programme with their commitment to daily training, competition, and academic studies.
“Both Tom and TJ demonstrate this on a daily basis. I have no doubt they will represent their country and approach the same way they do in a Rebels shirt.”