Sports Scholar celebration evening

Sports achievements, coaching hoodies, and a free bar!

On Wednesday 25 May Kent Sport hosted the first scholarship celebration event for two years. It was a welcome return to a key event on the scholarship calendar and hopefully confirms the pandemic is behind us and sport can return to the forefront for these talented young athletes.

The evening was well attended, and the students were more than happy to take advantage of Kent Sports’ generosity in paying for the tab behind Woody’s bar. However, head of sport and physical activities Oli Prior did remind the scholars NO double shots, NO cocktails, and NO food! Once settled in with a beverage, Oli kicked things off by thanking Mel Clewlow (Director of Sport) and the coaching team for supporting this year’s scheme. Since the School of Sport and Exercise Science merged from Medway to Canterbury Campus this year the scheme has benefitted from two 3rd year placement students. Rebecca Dennis and Taylor Roffey, both Stage 3 Sport and Exercise students, have been valued members of the coaching team this year and the scheme thanked them by presenting both with an honorary Kent Sport coaching hoody. In a similar way to the Master’s Golf, Strength and Conditioning instructor Chris Payne held the jackets open as they tried them on for size – Chris was also presented with a coaching hoody, which was about time after 15 years on the scheme!

This was a fitting (pardon the pun) end to Rebecca and Taylor’s placement year and Rebecca capped it off by presenting to the Scholars her results from a psychology questionnaire she had asked them to participate in. Another noteworthy part of the celebration evening is to present certificates to those students who have been on the scheme and graduating from the University this year. It is sad to see so many familiar faces leaving but we wish them all the success in the future both in sport and employment. However, one former scholar (now an honorary Scholar because of her refusal to fully leave) is Caroline Van Eldik. Caroline was part of the scholarship cohort directly affected by the lockdown restrictions and therefore never had the opportunity to officially ‘graduate’ from the scheme and collect her certificate. Caroline now works for Kent Union as a Sabbatical Officer and her stubbornness has prevented her from fully leaving the Scholarship Scheme, and this year joined in the strength and conditioning training sessions. This evening, she was invited to finally collect her certificate in person. So, on behalf of the scheme, Caroline you can stop milking it now and finally move on! Although you are always welcome – once a Kent Scholar always a Kent Scholar.

Another athlete who had an award in waiting was last year’s scholar of the year Bayley Sargeant. At the wider Team Kent Ball, Bayley was awarded outstanding individual for another amazing year representing GB in Archery competitions across Europe and the World. She was not available in the evening to collect her award so (and once again) Caroline stepped up to present the award to Bayley on behalf of Kent Union. Bayley is graduating and moving to Croatia this year, and we wish her well for the future. As a Kent alumnus and former Scholar of the Year, please continue to update us with your sport and life achievements – Scholar Hall of Fame awaits. Other mentions of scholarship athlete achievements from the Team Kent Ball include:

  • Euan Munday – Sportsman of the year. Euan was captain of the cricket team and top wicket-taker.
  • Elizabeth Fraser – Sportswoman of the year. Elizabeth was 1st team fencing captain and fenced all three weapons.
  • Men’s Hockey 1st team – Outstanding team award. Won the South-East 1A league and included four Kent Sports Scholars.
  • Women’s Football – Nominated for outstanding team. The women’s team went undefeated and included six Kent Sport Scholars.

Of course, not everybody can win the awards and sport can be a cruel mistress at times where certain accomplishments are over-shadowed by honours and accolades. Therefore, the scholarship celebration evening is important because it showcases results and achievements across the entire scheme.

  • Luke Yates – Plays a key role in the Karate club leadership and won three bronze medals in a GB open event and placed 7th in the Worlds.
  • Alex Appleby – Placed 5th overall in a recent senior figure skating international event.
  • Kemi Abidekun – BUCS finalist in Judo losing to an Olympian. A brilliant achievement and Kemi will be representing Kent in Judo at the Europeans. GOOD LUCK

But now down to the business end of presenting one of the athletes with the title of Sports Scholar of the Year. This award is presented to an athlete on the scheme who not only succeeds in their sport but more importantly brings something extra to the programme. In the past, we have had athletes that have actively become role models to champion equality in women’s sports and students who act as ambassadors for what sport can help you achieve post-university. Furthermore, this accolade is about an individual’s commitment to the scheme throughout the year(s). This year was no exception and was presented to an athlete that epitomises what it means to be a Sports Scholar at Kent. This was their 3rd year as a scholar and her job placement year but still chose to commit to the scheme. In 2020 this athlete won BUCS and then lockdown occurred preventing her from participating in her sport. Two years later and with minimal training and competition experience entered BUCS as defending champion and successfully defended her title.

A two-time BUCS champion on either side of the COVID pandemic, in her placement year balancing studies, work, and gymnastics training whilst committing to the scheme 100% exemplifies what the Sports Scholar of Year award is all about. We are proud to announce that the 2021/22 Scholar of the Year is Lara Stembridge for Gymnastics! Well Done and we look forward to seeing Lara on the scheme again next year.


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