With a long-held passion for sport, Millie Beever always knew she wished to work in the industry. What path she wanted to pursue, however, was less certain.
Then, a work placement taken by chance changed everything. After a lot of hard work, the University of Worcester Sport and Exercise Science graduate is now in her dream career; helping professional sport stars maintain peak fitness and ensuring young athletes reach their high-performance potential.
Millie’s choice to qualify as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Worcester proved an unusual one, in what is a noticeably male dominated industry. However, Millie has deployed female insight to her advantage, designing training regimes focused on supporting female athletes.
“I feel lucky,” she said. “I know some people who moan ‘oh, I’ve got work today’. I genuinely don’t feel like that. It’s that sense of achievement you get as a coach helping athletes.”
Fate intervened for Millie, who, having completed her undergraduate degree, was preparing to start her Master’s, when a summer placement opportunity working in the University of Worcester Arena’s Strength and Conditioning Suite sparked her interest. The University’s Strength and Conditioning (S&C) team work to support more than 300 athletes a week in the high-performance sport programme.
Millie quickly realised she’d found the career she wanted to pursue. “I love doing this job,” she said. “If it wasn’t for the summer placement opportunity, I probably would have never looked at a career in strength and conditioning coaching. I knew I wanted to work with athletes, I just didn’t know what the career path was!”
"If it wasn’t for the summer placement opportunity, I probably would have never looked at a career in strength and conditioning coaching"
Millie explained how her undergraduate degree had been invaluable. “The BSc. Sport and Exercise Science course developed my underpinning knowledge in sport psychology, biomechanics and physiology,” she said. “It helped me develop the theoretical foundation to work in an applied setting. Without such a foundation it’s difficult to undertake the practical job role. Learning and understanding the scientific principles of exercise through education guide your first steps in the gym. When you construct each training programme you must consider an athlete’s status, at a given point in time, from a multi-disciplinary perspective. S&C Coaching is far more than just developing athletes physiologically, you also have to consider psychological and biomechanical components in their overall wellbeing.”
Millie says she enjoyed the undergraduate degree, adding: “The knowledge you gain is crucial and the practical experience alongside is just as good. The lecturers were always at hand to help. Having a Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) I felt was an important part of my university experience. I could express my own interests within the course and air any concerns or worries in confidence. My PAT would help with support and constructive feedback, which made my time on the course enjoyable. The extracurricular learning opportunities the University provided were also extremely helpful for my personal and professional development. For example, there were opportunities to take part in research projects that equipped me with independent thinking skills, of great use when I made the jump into the real world of work in the sports industry.”
Millie continued her personal development, securing a Strength and Conditioning Assistant Coach role while studying a MSc. in Applied Sport and Exercise Science. This equipped her to secure full-time employment as a qualified Strength and Conditioning Coach. Under the guidance of senior professional support staff, she continues to develop skills while gaining qualifications to improve her standing as a professional coach.
Working at the University, Millie encounters a whole range of performance sports on a day-to-day basis, from netball and rugby, to rowing and canoeing, so improving the breadth and depth of her applied knowledge as opposed to being tied to one sport. Millie believes this can only improve her future employability.
She works with student athletes from the University on the sports scholarship programme. Millie also supports the University’s professional Vitality Netball Superleague side, Severn Stars, as well as the University’s Worcester Wolves basketball teams, including the elite Women’s NBL Division 1 squad. Recently, Millie devised a new programme advising female athletes in respect of training loads tailored to their menstrual cycle, taking account of such changes that might make them, for example, more prone to injury during certain phases of the cycle.
Summing up her career experience to date, Millie said: “The best thing about working in a university setting is seeing the development of an athlete over a minimum three-year period. I have seen athletes join University playing at regional level and when they leave, they’ve signed for a professional team and our team have supported them throughout the transition. It’s gives me huge satisfaction to know as an S&C Coach I’ve helped a player develop during their personal journey to be the best they can be!”
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