Degree success for John leads to nutritionist job at Super League club
A former chef has achieved his dream of becoming a sports nutritionist, landing a job with Super League giants Wigan Warriors before leaving university.
John Wilkinson, who this week graduated from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) with a degree in nutrition and exercise sciences, is a key member of the Warriors’ strength and conditioning team, working with the players on nutrition, supplementation, gym work and statistical analysis.
The 32-year-old from Bradford has been working with the Warriors alongside his studies for the last two seasons after an internship through UCLan, which is the ‘official university’ of the club, led to a job offer. John has made a success of his career change, which took him from working as a head chef for Marriott Hotels in Bradford, Leeds and the USA to becoming a personal trainer and then to university to study for a degree that linked his passion for food and sport.
I’ve always been interested in sport, fitness and healthy eating so actually my time as a chef ties in really well with my current role.
John said: “I’m creating my own role within the club and can come at it from a unique position due to my background as a chef. I’m results driven and working for a club as successful as Wigan means I’m in the right environment to achieve my goals. The director of performance, Mark Bitcon, is a fantastic mentor and I’m learning a lot under his guidance.”
John started working in kitchens aged 14 and went straight to catering college after school, working in a local Bradford restaurant during his training before heading to the Marriott Hotels group. It was during his time working as a chef at Worsley Park in Manchester that he also became a personal trainer and the idea of becoming a nutritionist was born.
He said: “I’ve always been interested in sport, fitness and healthy eating so actually my time as a chef ties in really well with my current role. I have a lot of experience cooking for professional athletes from my time working for Marriott and I’ve been able to bring this knowledge to my studies and to Wigan.”
The undergraduate course at UCLan appealed to me because it covered a variety of areas and blended subjects really well.
John, who currently lives in Manchester with his fiancé Sarah, is now planning to study for a PhD through Central Lancashire, Wigan Warriors and the Rugby Football League (RFL), which will focus on how nutritional knowledge can translate into performance.
He added: “The undergraduate course at UCLan appealed to me because it covered a variety of areas and blended subjects really well. I’m now looking forward to beginning my PhD and I’d like to thanks my tutor Steph Dillion for her support as I wouldn’t be where I am now without her.”