Telford Sport Sec, Strength & Conditioning Coach, Rugby Super Series Coach (Shiver)
Neill has supported sport at Loughborough across a variety of strands including volunteering as a Telford Sport Sec, coaching Shiver in the Rugby Super Series and as a S&C coach with Loughborough Students Rugby Development Squad. In recognition of his contribution Neill was awarded the CVA Unsung Hero Award at the 2020 Coach & Volunteer Academy Awards.
Tell us a little bit about yourself (hobbies, interests and background):
I was born in Belfast and aged 11 moved to Dubai for 6 years, returning to Belfast to complete A-levels then moving to Loughborough. I am the eldest child in a family of 6, all of whom are competitive and enjoy physical activity. My hobbies are all based around sport, whether it is playing, coaching or watching. I’m mainly interested in Gaelic, football, rugby union and 7s as well as basketball, but I would try anything really.
How did you first get involved in volunteering within sport at Loughborough?
I got involved in volunteering during freshers. It started by simply visiting the CVA stand at the sports bazar. I then attended a talk on performance analysis where I took the opportunity to speak to people who were able to refer me to other contacts. Everyone was very helpful and supportive along the way and this made it a lot easier to get involved.
During your years at Loughborough what have you got involved in through volunteering within sport?
In my first year at Loughborough I have been involved a lot in IMS and am now the Telford Sport Sec. I’ve really enjoyed this as it has given me an opportunity to get involved in sports I haven’t played before. I also got the opportunity to coach the Shivers Super Series team which was out of my comfort zone but I was with 5 others so learnt a lot and had a great time throughout the campaign. Another aspect of volunteering I got involved in was Strength and Conditioning with the Rugby team. I was working with Dan Rix who is a performance sport volunteer nominee and we worked with the development squad in the club, preparing the group for the upcoming pre-season.
What has your experience volunteering been like whilst at Loughborough?
The experience has been simply great. I’ve enjoyed myself and I’m learning a lot from others.
How has being involved with Loughborough Sport helped you develop and progress (personally and professionally)?
From a personal point of view, volunteering with Loughborough Sport has allowed me to meet many people who I enjoy working and learning from. I also think my interpersonal skills have improved and I am more confident in my ability. Professionally, I’ve been able to gain experience in an industry that I’m interested in.
It’s also allowed me to put learning into real world practice.
What’s the best advice you could give to a Loughborough student looking to get involved in volunteering & gain the most out of their university experiences?
Get out of your comfort zone and give every opportunity that comes your way a go, no matter how daunting it is. Loughborough sport staff and athletes will be there to help you out.
Finally, what do you enjoy most about volunteering?
Nothing beats the buzz of seeing a player you’ve worked hard with scoring a try, so seeing improvements in the athlete is definitely rewarding. Also, just the day to day atmosphere in trainings and games working with likeminded coaches and athletes.
Feeling inspired by Neill's experience? Check out the CVA Portal regularly for coaching and performance support opportunities like this.