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Nathan Simkin

BSc (Hons) in Sports Coaching & Performance (2016)
Masters by Research

Nathan “I love sport,” says Nathan Simkins from Greencastle, a keen soccer player, who is also into resistance training. He wanted to know more about how to improve performance through sports coaching, psychology and human movement. It was one of the reasons he chose to do a Higher Certificate in Sports Studies and progressed to a BSC Hons in Sports Coaching & Performance at LYIT. It was obviously a good one since he graduated with a first class honours degree.  Nathan has nearly completed his Research Masters, in which he examined the effects of moderate intensity physical activity, with behaviour change support on cardiovascular disease risk factors among females. He found that just 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity daily, led to improvements in health.

For anyone thinking of a career in sports, he says, “LYIT is an excellent place to study with fantastic facilities.” The course modules include psychology, sports coaching, nutrition, physiology, and PE teaching, with the emphasis on applying these in the field. There is the option to specialise in PE and Sports Performance during the course. LYIT has a state-of-the-art sports science lab which Nathan claims is hard to equal anywhere. “It’s got everything you need, including equipment to measure maximal fitness, determine your predominant fuel sources at both rest and exercise, sports performance bikes and equipment to measure general health to name just a few.’ The lab was vital for him when he was doing his thesis.

A real highlight for Nathan was receiving the Award for Excellent Endeavour in 4th year.  “Everyone at LYIT encourages you to do the best you can. It’s a very positive learning environment. No question goes unanswered.” In his experience the lecturers have a genuine interest in seeing everyone succeed, “I think it’s unique about LYIT. If you’re struggling with anything they’ll support you.” He says studying at LYIT helped to build his confidence through gaining excellent qualifications and other valuable skills, like communications. “You learn more about yourself.”

“Although an interest in sport is beneficial, it is not essential. The sport courses in the LYIT can equip you with the expertise for a wide range of areas including sports performance and coaching, health and wellbeing and PE teaching,” emphasises Nathan. Throughout his studies Nathan volunteered, giving nutrition and coaching advice to Finn Harps under 15’s, Donegal Hurling and Donegal Ladies Minors.

“It broadens your scope on different sports and allows you to put in to practice what you’ve learned.”

Work placement is part of the degree; he went to Aspire Fitness and Performance, Derry, which turned out to be more of a long- term arrangement. He’s still there, currently coaching elite golfers, cyclists, runners, soccer players and even a karate squad.

Nathan’s focus now is to complete his Masters and he is considering a move to Dubai to take up a Sports Performance Coach role. “It’s all to play for,” laughs Nathan. “There are so many opportunities in the sports and leisure industry, whether your interest is in sports performance, PE teaching, nutrition, sports psychology or personal training, the opportunities are endless. Long term I would like to set up my own practice but I want to work abroad first.”