"Whilst on the degree, my placement was in Pittsburgh. Having worked there for a few years before beginning the degree, it made sense to continue my training in the same area. Throughout the placement, I took on several roles including planning and organising events, player and staff management, and coaching various age groups in community and club settings.
Since graduating I have continued my training in Pittsburgh with UK International Soccer and coaching, almost exclusively for Pittsburgh Hotspurs. The club was 'relaunched' under new management in 2017 and since then, I assisted with the implementation of the new features of the club, which are a little more innovative than the regular club in the US. In the past 2 years, we have become the first club in the city to provide a development pathway from youth to adult for both males and females as we launched Men's and Women's teams, playing in the NPSL and WPSL respectively.
My current role within the club is Leader of the Youth Development Phase and Head Coach of the Men's team. On the youth side, I manage 9 teams from U13-U15, across two 'sites'. Responsibilities include management of staff, setting curriculums, guiding in-house CPD, video analysis and then the most enjoyable part being part of the 'on the pitch'.
With the 1st team, I head up a team of staff to meet the challenge of annual recruitment and then implementing a plan to take us through a tough season. Due to the number of collegiate athletes who take part in this league, the season is condensed into roughly 10 weeks to accommodate their school schedules meaning this a unique environment to work in. What sets us apart from most of our competitors is that our aim with this project is to use it to promote and challenge some of our club's and city's brightest young talents. Finding the balance between experienced, collegiate players and members of our academy is a challenge but one that is exciting as we strive to improve the game in our area.
Additionally, taking the degree through USW has led to employment with the university as a personal tutor for students studying on the same course. It was an unexpected opportunity but one I have really enjoyed for the past 18 months. The guidance I received from my tutor during my time on the degree program was beneficial, and to be able to offer that same experience to those currently studying is rewarding.
Having not been much of an academic as a youth, University was not the right path for me coming out of school. However, after coaching for a few years, I had a couple of 'lightbulb' moments and finally entered the 'consciously incompetent' stage of my professional development. Meeting some people who made me realize that I lacked knowledge around not only coaching but the game in general and it sparked my interest in pursuing further education - the Football Coaching, Development and Administration course at USW ticked all those boxes.
The course at USW far exceeded my expectations in terms of experience, delivery and mentorship. I am a big believer in the notion of 'you get out of it, what you put in' and I know that I put a lot of time and effort into my studies. As a result, I was given a wealth of information, forced to reconsider everything I thought I knew about coaching, and learn from some top industry professionals. The staff were brilliant - professional and challenging whilst meeting some other dedicated, aspiring coaches on the course was an extremely positive experience."