What the scholars think

We got the opportunity to catch up with some of our scholarship students within the Basketball programme and talk with them about life at the University of Worcester as Scholarship athletes. Within the group of student athletes we spoke to there are Performance Potential Athletes, Dual Career Athletes and Worcester Wolves Scholarship Athletes. All of them are at various stages of their University of Worcester journey.

Below you’ll read excerpts from conversations with our Men’s 1st team players, Matei Balteanu (MB), Thomas Grayling (TG), Wilfrid Santhe (WS), Malaki Cunningham-Pitterson, Jacob Dearman (JD), Liam Langridge-Barker (LLB), Ian Vivero Rodriguez (IVR) and Isaiah Walker (IW). Some of our wheel chair Basketball team Abderrahim Tagrest (AT), George Gray (GG) and Jack Long (JL) and our Women’s first team players Caitlin Collier (CF), Charlotte Finn (CF)

What attracted you to the university of Worcester?

CC – I was recruited by Ryan (former womens coach Ryan Emery), who came to one of my games at college.  He spoke to a couple of us about the programme. When I had my individual visit I saw the facilities and I really liked the set up.  I like how the University is heavily linked with Worcester Wolves.  Practice’s are regular and scheduled around lectures.  Other programmes didn’t seem to work that way.

WS – The basketball program and history attracted me to Worcester. They have a proven track record of developing and make players better. It’s was a program I wanted to be a part of.

JL – What attracted me initially was the facilities that we have access to such as the S&C suite.  All the courts we have here and they’re an amazing standard for Basketball in the UK.  Our coach is one of the best in the country. It was easy for it to be a first choice of mine

IVR – The basketball program in specific was the main aspect that attracted me to Worcester University but also the city. I wanted a city where almost everything is relatively close by bike or walking. A city with university environment to enjoy the university lifestyle and meet new people.

GG – What the University could provide me.  Not just academically but the support it was willing to provide me for my wheelchair basketball career.  The ease of everything, is a huge factor.

LLB – I’d been around Worcester previously during my stints in the BBL.  I always loved coming to play at the arena.  Getting to practice here daily and it being our home court for BUCS and NBL is great.  It’s easily one of the best facilities at this level in the country.

TG – The basketball programme as a whole and the course I wanted to do was here.  Once I graduate, I’d like to complete my PGCE, or an MSc and I can do that here.  At the time of my application Wolves were in the BBL and there was already a plan of having an NBL side, like a wolves second team.  So, I figured I’d either get to train with the BBL side and or play in the NBL in addition to playing for the University team in BUCS.  Now the team has left the BBL, it has kind of elevated the team that competes in the NBL.  We now get to play in from of 500 fans at home games which is always great.

CF – The basketball programme and the benefits you get from being a scholarship athlete. I also liked the feel of Worcester when I visited.

MB – The opportunity to have a dual career as an athlete and student attracted me the most to come to Worcester. Back in Romania I have seen how a lot of athletes struggle to continue studying at higher education level whilst performing in their sports.

MCP – What attracted me to worcester was the basketball program with its past history and facilities they have to offer. Also as people around me said it was a smaller uni which I liked as it will allow me to focus on my studies

IW – I was attracted to Worcester as it was recommended by a coach of mine. On top of this I already had knowledge of Worcester with their link to the Wolves basketball team and the great facilities.

You’re part of the university of Worcester/ Wolves scholarship programme. How does it benefit you as a student and student life?

AT – The demands as an elite athlete are high, with camps, training and games. The scholarship programme provides support in various ways.  So I’ve received support to ensure my education isn’t effected due to my sporting commitments

MB – As a student, being part of the UW/ Wolves scholarship helps me financially, to pay for my tuition fees and any sports related costs (supplements, shoes, bucs membership, training equipment etc.). Secondly, across the year there are free workshops you can attend that are aimed at providing advice on time management, wellbeing, and any type of support if needed.

CF – It gives me loads of different benefits like free access to the gym, being able to get a S&C programme made for me, ice baths and more. This is good for me as a student as it is saving me money and can help me improve my basketball. 

JL – It’s great, it comes with a lot of benefits and support.  You receive a kit bundle, the extra money is a bonus also.  The facilities, massage, free physio and psychiatrist are all available to help us as athletes

LLB – It gives me a bit more freedom,it helps me out with my studies.  It allows me to enjoy my time here, rather than stressing about things.

What do you enjoy about the basketball programme?

MCP – I enjoy the professionalism of the programme and the resources that are given to us to become better players 

IVR – As a basketball player being able to train and play in one of the best facilities in the country is great, having personal training creating strength and condition program specific for your body is awesome and being able to represent the university and the wolves organisation and get the recognition of the fans in an amazing feeling.

CC – I like how the University team and the wolves teams are the same.  I really like the connection between the University team and Wolves.  It’s the same coach and players playing for both  The training sessions are the same and it’s all connected

IW – It’s great the amount of on court time we have access to, along with having team strength and conditioning. I also enjoy the fact that the team is so close knit, everyone is a good person and being part of the team feels like being part of a family.

WS – I enjoy the constant practices and the accessibility of facilities as it provides chances to improve at any moment

JL – Just the fact that I get to train every day.  My friends are here and I’ve known them before attending UW, due to the nature of wheelchair basketball, it’s a small community

CF – My team as we all to stick by each other through the tougher games and make sure we hold each other accountable but also making sure we pick each other up. The facilities are very good as we have access to the court every day of the week, we also have an S&C suite which is only for performance athletes, as well as the campus gym. We also get the use of ice baths after practice or games to help with our recovery.

LLB – I love being around the guys all the time.  Creating those relationships on and off the court is one of the biggest things for me.

MB – The chance of having an all-around and integrated programme that fits my academic schedule, and helps me achieve my potential. 

How is your season going so far? (Personally)

IVR – My season personally is being good but really busy because as a third year student in sport therapy I don’t have too much time to spend in training my skills and have some social life due to exams, assessments, placement and dissertation but this is something to expect from a good university. On the other side here in the university if you ask for help there is always people happy to help and sort any problem.

CF – Personally, I’ve seen a lot of improvement in my game this season, I feel this is because I’m being given the opportunity from my coach (Kieran Howell) to show what I can really do. I’ve also become a lot more focused on basketball and I’m in the gym 3/4 times a week trying to get myself fitter and stronger, which is being shown when I play.

IW – I feel as though my season has had many ups and downs so far. However I’ve always had my teammates, coach and club staff there to support me through the difficult times. I currently feel that my season is heading in a positive direction and I am able to contribute to making the team better when I’m on the court.

AT – We’re currently unbeaten and want it to remain that way and win the trophy at the end of the season.

MB – For me, the season hasn’t started the way I expected, as I had to deal with ongoing injuries for a couple of months. Although, since coming back from the Christmas break, I haven’t been bothered by any injuries so far and I’ve managed to be more consistent with participating in practices. I’m feeling positive for the rest of the season.

What’s it like playing for and being coached by your team coach?

JL – Being coached by Simon at worcester has helped me as a player since I got to this uni. He is always available to have a 1 on 1 and organises as many training sessions as possible for the team.

MB – Being coached by Dean Blake for the last couple of years has been a continuous learning cycle. He created a very competitive environment that puts a positive pressure on me, in a way that makes me push harder and helps me achieve my potential. Moreover, I feel that my opinions are fully valued in my team, thus creating a culture of openness and mutual trust.

CF – I really enjoy being coached by Kieran because he is very enthusiastic and has helped our team grow. He’s really given me a chance to play his confidence in me has helped me a lot.

TG – Dean is a demanding coach on and off the court and wants to see the human/and player develop. He also gives players freedom of speech and will never shut someone down because he disagrees with you. His honesty keeps player’s grounded and heading in the right direction.  

AB – Simon’s a great coach, he’s always pushing us to perform and to train at our best

If you’re interested in attending University of Worcester and would like more information on our Sport Scholarships please click here