‘They really want the best for me - both as an athlete and as a person – and they know neither can happen without the other!’ (Joe 11H2)
The Habs Talented Athlete Pathway (TAP) was set up to nurture some of the best sporting talent our school has to offer. This new initiative helps our boys better balance their academic and sporting commitments. Run by our Athletic Development Lead, Mr Kyriacou, TAP involves meetings, seminars and personalised workout sessions, all tailored to meet the specialist needs of our athletes.
We spoke to three boys to find out about the way the School supports them, from balancing fixtures to bespoke nutrition plans and specialised support.
Joe is currently navigating the summer cricket season, his GCSE exams, and a range of musical commitments. Talking to the young athlete, it’s immediately clear the impact that the staff involved in TAP have had on his development. Speaking about a few role models, he mentions:
‘The person who’s really helped me the most was Mr Hewitt. He used to play professionally and still plays for Middlesex County. I’ve trained with him every lunchtime. Mr Kerry too – he’s so passionate and wants to see his players succeed. Mr Kyriacou of course, who set up the pathway in the first place, mostly as a way to help balance out your life.’
Currently on exam leave for GCSE, the need for balance has never been so important. But it’s not exam stress that Joe needed help the most with. Instead, he mentions a time where he was feeling extremely anxious about his entry into Middlesex County Cricket – and how Mr Kerry and Mr Kyriacou guided him through this difficult time. In fact, he mentions how regularly the pathway offers him support:
‘Every morning we discuss with Mr Kyriacou how well we slept, how fatigued we are, how we feel, our current mood, our stress, our physical state. We give each a rating out of 5. If I put 1 for all of them, he’ll go to my coach and ask him not to push me – but that’s never happened! On the other hand, if I’m in great condition, he’ll tell the coach to push me as hard as he can.'
We leave Joe to his GCSE revision and head off to talk to Benjamin about his experience.
For Benjamin, it’s the friends he’s made through the pathway that have influenced him the most. Back in Year 9, he decided with his friend Jacob that they would set their sights on the English Schools Athletic Association. Since then, both boys have become part of the TAP, challenging and pushing each other to mutual goals.
‘Having a friend who does similar competitive athletics has really helped. You have a friend who can give you accountability. Both my goals and his goals are the same.’
A keen javelin thrower, Benjamin’s made full use of Mr Kyriacou’s personalised training. With his aim to enter the English School competition once again this summer, he needed to identify any areas of weakness. Having problems with his shoulder, Benjamin’s worked hard to improve his mobility, as opposed to focusing on power and strength alone.
‘In the gym sessions, we had a meeting and talked about what we want our training to look like. Mobility was a big issue for me, so my training was adapted to help me with that. I worked on shoulders in particular, whilst for power, we did bench press and squats.’
Wishing Benjamin all the best for his forthcoming training, we finally talked to one of our Sixth Form, Tolu, about his experience with the TAP.
For Tolu, TAP is about giving him the head space he needs to focus on his swimming and running. Since joining us, Tolu has participated in three national championships, five regional finals and has won medals in many county finals, winning gold on one occasion.
‘The main thing I’ve got from the pathway is that it’s allowed me to be very independent. It’s mostly about getting me into the pool, getting me into the lengths, and allowing me to focus on myself.’
Of course, he hasn’t done this alone and has Miss Brandon’s help and support to thank for coaching him along the way. ‘She’s there every Monday and Friday after school and it’s helped my swimming get a lot faster. She’s told me to improve my turns, which is the most important part of the 50m. A race is won or lost at the start and at the turns, so if you master the turn, you win the race.’
Like Joe, Tolu is currently in the middle of examinations, and balancing his sporting commitments around his AS Levels has certainly been a challenge. However, he echoes Joe’s sentiments about the pathway’s ability to help find a work life balance, especially in the early seminars about organisation:
‘Discipline really helps in both sport and academics. Whenever I’m doing well academically, I’m doing well in both swimming and running. So the organisation discussions at the start of the year have helped me with that a lot.’
Although all the boys have different things to say about the TAP, one thing that remains the same is just how supported they feel by the pathway offered by our sports department.
Despite our strong academic results, we remain fully committed to nurturing excellence in every sense – whether playing county cricket, throwing the javelin in national competitions or swimming in regional finals.
We thank all the boys for their tremendous dedication to school sport, as well as the staff involved in coaching and supporting them.