Students at The University of Manchester not only study degrees that can often mean they are in University a minimum of 23 hours a week, but they also manage to balance this with numerous extra-curricular activities. We talk to Lauren Palmer, 5th Year Dental Student who has coached an U14 Local Netball Club team from Tameside who were recently crowned National Club Champions, in addition to being assistant coach for The University of Manchester Netball Club
1. What does being crowned Champions mean to you and the girls you coach?
Winning the England Netball National Club Final this year has meant more than anything to both myself and the girls. We have worked so hard the past couple of seasons preparing for this huge event, and being crowned champions has just been the best reward for all the hours we put in.
My U14s have been so consistent the last few years, being unbeaten for the last 4 years, and the National title was the only prize we were yet to claim. After the final whistle everyone was in tears and the feeling was out of this world.
On a personal note it meant so much to me as when I was a player I came runner up twice in the competition, so to finally get my hands on that trophy was such a relief!
2. When did you first get involved in netball and what qualifications have you achieved?
I first got into netball at the age of 11 when I played at school, I loved it so much I then went onto playing for a club. It was when I was 18 that I decided to switch my attention from playing NPL at Loughborough to coaching. Since starting coaching I have attained my UKCC levels 1 and 2 in netball and hope to gain my level 3 qualification in the not too distant future.
3. What does coaching the U14 team at Tameside involve?
Coaching at Tameside does involve a lot of hard work and commitment, but that’s the sacrifice we make in order to be the best. We train once a week for 2 hours and then play matches at a weekend. The girls have it harder than me as they have county, regional and Thunder youth training to fit into their week as well. A lot of organisation is involved and time management is crucial, especially for me when trying to plan sessions and finish my degree.
4. What attracted you to this role and how did you get involved?
I got involved as I wanted a new challenge. When I first started out as an apprentice I was mentored at Tameside and showed the ropes. The parents of the girls were amazing and supported me through the early years, and I can’t thank them enough for that.
5. How do you balance coaching the U14s and studying Dentistry at the University?
With great difficulty! I was so passionate about coaching my girls that it was inevitable I would have to spend many a long evening in the library to catch up. In years 1-3 at the Dental School the workload wasn’t too intense so balancing the two was quite straight forward. But as I progressed to the later years, I had to buy a diary and really focus on my time management. I have done it incredibly well as I have managed to win the National Title and graduate within weeks of each other.
6. What motivates you to balance it all?
My main motivation for balancing the two has been my love for the girls and my career. I am a very determined individual and I am such a sore loser. This keeps me fighting through it as I have to succeed at everything, nothing else will do. I am a believer that if you work hard enough and want something you will it achieve it!
7. What skills have being involved in Netball has given you?
Being involved in netball has shown me the true importance of team work and friendship. You work better in a positive environment and that ethos is what I convey to my girls. Team work in dentistry is crucial too, and my sporting background has put me at an advantage in this respect.
8. Has this had any positive impact on your career as a dentist?
Coaching netball has had a positive impact on my career, as a huge element of dentistry is team working and also leading a team. My previous experiences within netball have improved my interpersonal skills and enabled me to converse with a wide range of ages.
Netball is also a great distraction from my heavy work load at University. It gives me the opportunity to take a break and participate in something I love and enjoy.
9. What’s next for you and the world of netball?
I am looking forward to new challenges that are coming my way. With regards to Tameside I hope to now push my girls forward in order to retain our National Title in 2 years time. I have also just taken on a new U8s team so they are the future and my next project.
I am looking forward to coaching at University again next year and helping them win as many titles as possible. On a more personal note I am hoping to work towards my level 3, and progress as far as possible with my coaching. Hopefully get into the county/regional/superleague set ups at some point.
10. If you could give one piece of advice to students about getting involved in life beyond their degree, what would it be?
Just Do it! Sport is such a great way to relax and achieve great things. Whether it is more social or competitive reasons go and join in, you will love it!
Read more about the Tameside success here.