John Wilkinson is a third year student at UCLan studying Nutrition and Exercise Sciences. John has a passion for nutritional studies working as a chef before university and as a personal trainer. Since starting at UCLan, he began working at Wigan Warriors in his second year at University.
“I started out as an intern here in my second year doing one or two days a week. I was working with another guy from UCLan and when he left they offered me the full-time position.
“UCLan gave me this opportunity to be here and this is really where I want to be. It is hard to get your foot in the door and UCLan really helped me with this. I have learnt so much from being here; it is different from being taught in a classroom and being in the gym. You get to see what it takes to apply your studies to their performance and when the players are in season it’s about managing their time and training to get the best out of them in the match.
“I have always been involved in sports but I have come from a background in food, which has also been of benefit to me but by doing this job I can see more of the sports side. Here I am doing sports, strength and conditioning, analysing their performance and training the players in the gym. I also look into what they are doing in the field when they come back from an injury.
“It’s different to the work I do as a personal trainer as it is not about aesthetic and more about performance. A big thing I have learnt is that performance and health is the main priority. Everything I learn at university I can apply to the job, I am always reinforcing things that I have learnt and this has benefitted me a great deal.”
John is now working at Wigan Warriors’ training ground full-time but says how it benefits his studies. “I only have a few weeks left of university but I can fit this in really well around my studies. I’m doing my research on the players and I can get the stats for my dissertation here so it ties in really well. I am using the GPS data from last season, as my biggest role here is to look at the figures from the GPS from games and analyse all the statistics from these.
“My course leader Steph Dillion and all the lecturers have really helped me throughout this and my time at University by being so approachable and understandable when I am working so I can fit everything around my working lifestyle. When I was looking at universities I saw the facilities that UCLan has and looked at the module content, as I wanted to do nutrition and sports science. Being in the lab and being practical has really helped me to see what I wanted to do and securing this job has been great. We take the players to the labs at UCLan where they do their fitness testing and we can really push them, it gets the students involved and is something different for the player’s as well.”
John hopes to stay working with Wigan Warriors after his course ends but wants to gain a master’s degree in strength and conditioning as “being in this environment has made me see what I want to do and what is needed as now my goal is to do strength and conditioning in elite sports.”