Julie Whiting is a fourth year International Business Management with French student. She’s also a Great Britain U-23s and Wales Seniors Hockey International. We caught up with Julie and asked her to tell us about her Cardiff Met experience so far…
What made you choose Cardiff Met?
I was also pretty impressed with the sports facilities at both the Llandaff and Cyncoed campuses, as well as the university hockey teams (BUCs), and the links to National League Hockey.
The location of the university was ideal for me too- it’s close to town and shops, train and bus stations (the MetRider bus makes it easy to get to university) and also the Welsh Institute of Sport where I train with the Wales Senior Women.
How has Cardiff Met been able to help with your hockey career?
The strength and conditioning programme was great when I followed it in my first year. In my second, third and fourth years at university I had to follow the Wales S&C programme, but the team at Cardiff Met have continued to help me with my technique and additional areas that I wish to improve. They are very approachable and supportive and they understand the commitment needed to represent your country.
In my first two years at university, I received a sports scholarship which was extremely helpful- it gave me insurance, free gym membership and much more. I have to do around four S&C sessions a week, so having fully equipped gyms at both the Llandaff (where all my lectures are based) and Cyncoed Campus was ideal for me.
What are the staff like?
The coaches as Cardiff Met are highly qualified and some are still representing their country in their sport, so you get good training sessions as well as support as they understand everything that you are trying to do in your sport and studies. It’s easy to set up one-to-one sessions to talk about hockey and the areas you want to improve on or need guidance with. These sessions are beneficial and you have confidence in knowing that you will be given constructive criticism and encouragement.
It’s not just the sports department that have been understanding about my international commitments – every department at Cardiff Met I’ve dealt with has been great about it.
My lecturers on the Llandaff Campus, who are separate to sport, have continuously been very supportive and are always happy to set up meetings to go over any work or just a general catch up if I have requested it. For example, when I recently sustained a concussion injury and after I had emailed them all to let them know the situation (I wasn’t able or allowed to do any work until my symptoms had subsided), I received responses of encouragement and support and when I was better, we set up meetings to catch up on the work which was very useful.
The university is also supportive on social media as they follow, encourage and celebrate success with the #ArchersFamily.
What’s been the highlight of your time at Cardiff Met so far?
For my third year I was working and living in France, which was an amazing experience and one that I highly recommend as it helps to improve your foreign language and business skills. I also played hockey for a French Premier League side, FC Lyon.
Not only did the year abroad improve my French, it also helped with my organisational skills, my understanding of how different businesses work, and my ability to cope in different working environments. It gave me different experiences and scenarios which helped me grow as a person and it will enhance my CV.
What’s your typical week like?
Extremely busy! I’m working hard to achieve the best grade I can in my degree, as well as balancing S&C sessions, hockey training and matches including Wales.
This means that on top of all my lectures and seminars I usually have two pitch training sessions, 4 S&C sessions, and games in addition to training for Wales Seniors whenever camps and matches arise.
Is it difficult to fit it all in?
Of course! But it is possible. When times get hard – whether it’s getting up for early S&C sessions or hockey training after a really long day of lectures, I think about what it means to me to be representing my country; it’s one of the greatest honours you can have, so I just embrace it and make every second count.
As I said, I’ve actually been out for roughly 3 months after sustaining a concussion during a hockey game, and have only just been cleared to play again. Having not been able to train for 3 months or study, I am so happy to be back on the pitch, in the gym and in my lectures! Situations that are out of our hands like this just show us how lucky we are and make us appreciative for what we have and are able to do.
We all have bad days – we’re only human – but it’s how we deal with those days that makes us strong. It’s the same principle for bad days at university or bad days on the pitch.
I still get to enjoy the other parts of university, like going out and having a laugh with my friends – hockey and studying are important, but it’s also important to have some time to rest and recover too!
If you had to give one piece of advice on coping with high-level sport and study, what would it be?
Organise, believe in yourself and your capability, and work hard for what you want to achieve. It may not happen straight away but keep working at it – you can do it!
Looking for more on sport at Cardiff Met? Read Ellie’s blog on why she loves Wednesdays so much, and Judit’s post on playing basketball for Cardiff Met.