In this blog we interviewed two of our students who are studying at our Skills Centre of Excellence, Irvine Campus. James O’Neil is currently doing his HND Sports Coaching and Steven Barnes is studying Level 6 Sports and Fitness. We wanted to speak to both of these students to learn more about what it’s like studying for a career in sport. Our Head of Sports and Social Science, James Adams is our interviewer and you can watch the full interview here.
How many years have you been studying at Ayrshire College?
James: A few! I started in 2013 and I’ve worked up from an NC to an HND so that’s 4 years I’ve been here now. I’m just about to finish my HND and hope to go on to study Sports International Management at Glasgow Caledonian University.
Steven: I’ve been here for two years. I did Level 5 then Level 6 Sports and Fitness and I’m now going on to my HNC next year. So I’m pretty happy about that
James, what’s it been like studying part of your course at university this year?
James: I’ve been doing modules and stuff like that up there and have got to know the lecturers and campus really well. It helps me cope with the transition and have a deeper insight as to what I’m going to be doing up there.
Can you tell us some of the things you’ve done during your timeat Ayrshire College that has helped you prepare for your university course and indeed prepare you for a job in the industry?
James: Well I’ve done a lot of coaching within the College and I’ve got to work with lots of the partners involved with sports, such as Active Schools etc. The College has given me loads of life skills as well, I’ve matured a great deal as a person and I’m much more assertive – I used to be quite withdrawn. The College has given me academic skills as well, so I’ve managed to progress through the levels. I’ve got lots more knowledge about development in sports.
Could you tell us about some of the locations you’ve worked in throughout North Ayrshire and indeed, some of the sports you’ve coached in?
James: Well I’ve coached a variety of sports; I’ve coached football, basketball, and athletics, a bit of everything really. I’ve managed to work in most of the schools in North Ayrshire, especially in Irvine, Saltcoats and Dalry areas. I’ve developed a working relationship with a lot of the coordinators in the area as well which I’m very fortunate to have done.
Steven, what have you done in the two years you’ve been with us?
Steven: I’ve done a few days out at Kilmarnock Campus and a few primary school sessions and stuff like that. I’ve also done my own thing with Crosshouse Boys Club, so there has been quite a bit of voluntary work.
I have set goal nets up, helped pick up the kit and taking them for warm ups and stuff. It does kind of get you used to it and it gives you confidence. It gives you a bit of belief in yourself that you can do the job you came here to do and gives me a lot of confidence coming to college.
What’s your long-term goal? Is it to go to University or get a job?
Steven: Well I’d like to be a PE teacher so I’ll have to go to University at some point, so basically I’m going on a journey and I’d say I’m halfway there.
How would you say the College is helping you get there?
Steven: It’s given me confidence and a lot of skills to implement in my sessions. I am also more creative – if things don’t go the right way, change them and basically just go on your own instinct as well. If something doesn’t work and you know it’s not working and there’s something else that is working, just go with that and stick with it.
What’s one or two key things you think have helped you at Ayrshire College that has helped you develop as a human being?
James: Definitely encouragement, the lecturers do a lot to encourage you and keep you motivated. They’re always there to lend a hand. I understand this is my last year so there’s a lot more independent learning but I’ve still always got the lecturers for a wee bit of help here and there and they’re more than willing to help you. Opportunities as well, they give you opportunities to do stuff out with the College so I’ve coached in a variety of different areas and they’ve actually helped me to get a job with KA Leisure.
Steven: Well in general, just everything. I never used to be a person who was really engaging, I was more of a “stand back” person but in this role you’re having to put yourself forward and be the main centre of attention. It gives you the confidence to stand in front of people and let them know that you’re there to do your teaching and they’re there to listen to you. It just basically gives me a lot of confidence.
What did you do before you came to Ayrshire College?
Steven: I worked in the Sports and Leisure Centre, the Galleon in Kilmarnock. I was there for nearly five years, so I’ve been around sports for quite a long time.
James: I just left school and came straight to college. I had no idea really what I was going to do so it acted as a safety net for me and it actually has given me a lot more than that.
What would you say the difference between studying at school and studying at college is?
James: It’s night and day. They treat you much more like an adult, they’re there to help you as well and they give you respect. They let you know that you’re here to learn but it’s your time, you do what work you want and you try and do that productively as you can.
Steven: Yeah it’s been a while, it’s hard to think back but just as James says, it makes you feel like more of an adult, they treat you with respect they don’t talk down to you or anything like that, they try and help you along the way. The lecturers will do anything for you, if you are struggling, they will take extra time at the end to talk to you so it’s pretty encouraging.
James you started the NC Level and worked your way up? Do you feel there’s any difference there in the style of learning?
James: I feel due to starting a basic level I’ve learned more practical aspects of what’s involved in my course, for example during coaching, I’m able to stand up and assert myself a lot better in front of groups, I know how to coach more practically compared to some of the other guys that have come in from an academic background. They’ve maybe done better at the theory side of things but I feel I’m a lot better at the practical side because of the time I’ve spent at Ayrshire College.
Steven, how have you felt the transition going from industry back into study has been compared to some of the people who have maybe come straight from school?
Steven: I think it does give you a head start with your confidence, talking and taking control of groups. Trying not to panic when something goes wrong, it’s basically just the experience, it eases you in a lot better than if you were to come straight from school. When you have to teach a class, you might get a bit flustered and embarrassed because obviously you’re teaching your peers and you’re in their class as well. So I think the transition is a lot easier if you’ve been involved in playing or coaching sport before.
How has the College helped you transition?
James: They’ve helped me a lot, they’ve given me self-belief, self-esteem, and they’ve done a lot for me. They’ve encouraged me, especially if they feel like I’m losing motivation they’ll just say “Come on James, just get this done!” They’ll set me goals for myself and they’ve made me aware of what goals I should work towards and just kept me on the right path. The lecturers at Ayrshire College have done a lot for me.
Watch the full interview here