Published on 09 November 2016
A Sunderland student's dedication and hard work to pass on netball skills to the next generation has scored her a prestigious coaching award.
Imogen Storey was recently named Young Coach of the Year for the County Durham Sport and Physical Activity Awards, which is awarded to an individual who has demonstrated commitment and passion through coaching in sport. The awards celebrate unsung sports stars, coaches, clubs and schools.
With stiff competition from dozens of entries, judges voted for the young person they believed was an inspiration within their role as a coach and who has made a positive impact on those they have coached.
Imogen, 20, a final year Sports Coaching student at the University of Sunderland, is no stranger to the awards having picked up the Young Volunteer of the Year at both stages of the same competition in 2014.
On winning the award, Imogen, from Bishop Auckland, said: "When I won the local awards I was over the moon as I knew those other people I was up against had done some excellent coaching. So when it came to the County Durham finals I was so nervous when it was my category. The other nominees' achievements sounded amazing which made me think I hadn't won. But again when my name was called I couldn't believe it! I knew I had put so much hard work into the last year and everyone I know says it was well deserved."
Imogen, who has been playing netball since she was seven, is described as a ‘vibrant and enthusiastic' member of the coaching team at Bishop Auckland Netball Club. She has come through the ranks as a player and this year achieved her Level 2 UKCC coaching qualification at age just 20. Since January, Imogen stepped up to take on the role of acting Head Coach, managing the coaching programme and five teams competing in leagues. Imogen works tirelessly with the club's girls aged five to 19 years, and worked with many girls who are now on the England Netball Pathway.
Claire Donahue, Programme Leader for BSc Sports Coaching at the University, said: "Imogen's recent award for ‘Young Coach of the Year for County Durham' is a testament to her dedication and focus to the coaching profession and she continually strives to increase her knowledge in the Sports Coaching area."
Imogen says being so heavily involved in coaching has supported her Sports Coaching (link is external) studies at Sunderland.
"I coached before I knew I wanted to do a coaching degree so everything just fell into place nicely. Once I started my degree I realised what aspects of my personal coaching I needed to focus on as it gave me a broad amount of knowledge into the technical aspects of coaching."
So why did Imogen choose the University of Sunderland to study?
"I wasn't really ready to move away from home yet so I looked at universities that were close enough that I could drive to. I went for a few open days and Sunderland stood out to me. The facilities and the staff were a big part of why I chose to study here. The staff were friendly and made you feel at ease."
She added: "There is a huge element of science in my degree that I didn't expect but I really enjoy, especially physiology and learning about how the body copes with the demands of exercise, it really interests me."
Having achieved so much already in her short career, what are her future ambitions?
"I began university with the idea of becoming a teacher firmly in mind," she explained, "but as I've gone through the years I now think I would like to do something unusual and really put my mind to becoming something that I never thought I could be. I do like the sound of being an exercise physiologist and working with athletes and seeing how their bodies react to different types of exercise."
So what advice does she have to other students just starting out on their degree course?
"Start with an open mind," she said. "Use your time wisely, it's not great having 10,000 words to write in a short space of time because you didn't start your work until the week before it's due. And volunteer for any opportunity that arises that you think you might like!"