Top gongs for college sports stars
Dedication, motivation and team-work were qualities on display at West Nottinghamshire College’s annual celebration of sporting achievement.
The college’s Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) Awards, on Thursday 26 April, saw high-achieving students take to the stage at its Derby Road campus, Mansfield, to receive special trophies in recognition of their success.
More than a dozen accolades were handed out on the night in categories ranging from sport curriculum student, volunteer, team, and coach of the year, to applause by fellow students, staff and guests.
The evening’s main victor was international student Akym Davis, a talented football and basketball player, who was named Sports Personality of the Year 2018, for working consistently hard in both sport and his academic studies. He also collected two further accolades – football players’ player of the year, and football manager’s player of the year – rounding-off a memorable night for the 17-year-old.
Akym recently moved to the UK from his home country Jamaica – where he’d been part of the under-15s football squad – to pursue his educational and sporting ambitions. He quickly cemented his place as goalkeeper in the college’s football team, where he has been a constant presence.
The busy teenager also plays for the college’s basketball team when there are no football matches, competing in fixtures all over the country. Akym has not missed a single football training session all season and regularly turns up for extra drills.
Akym juggles his sporting commitments with his A-level studies in business, maths and law – and despite starting the courses slightly late, was soon receiving glowing praise for his outstanding efforts.
Not only is Akym excelling at the college, he also attends regular events at the University of Sheffield after gaining a place on its prestigious Discover Social Sciences outreach programme. He was also recently selected to join the Access Project; a national scheme that works with young people to aid their progression to top universities. This sees him take part in weekly online tuition sessions with a lecturer from the London School of Economics, where he hopes to study after completing his A-levels.
What makes this all the more impressive is that ambitious Akym moved to the UK without his parents so he could study in this country. He lives with family friends in New Ollerton, Nottinghamshire, and except for regular Skype calls, only sees his mother and father when he’s able to return home during holidays.
Speaking of his award wins, Akym said: “It’s a massive honour – I really wasn’t expecting this. But I’m really glad I won, for all the work I’ve put in. The opportunity to come to this college, and also play for the football and basketball teams, has just been amazing.
“It’s a way for me to showcase my skills and play with a really good set of lads. Just being around them is awesome; there’s a really nice vibe. I have to give thanks to everybody at college for this opportunity, to my parents for their support, and to God for what he’s done for me.”
Akym insists he manages to balance his wide-ranging academic and sporting commitments by having a relentless focus on what he wants to achieve.
He said: “It’s about setting my priorities and focusing on what I came here for – which is my education first and foremost – but also making time for extra training, both with the team and individually, in order to be the best person I can be. I’m kind of a perfectionist so whatever I do, I want to excel at it.”
Sport Curriculum Student of the Year was Lewis Turner, 17, for his achievements on the Level 3 Diploma in Sport and Physical Activity course. Described by tutors as a “conscientious and hard-working learner” who “always strives to achieve the highest-possible grades”, Lewis, from Mansfield, has a 100% attendance record and regularly displays the attributes to be successful in sport including motivation, commitment, enthusiasm, leadership and team-work.
Sixteen-year-old Harry Bates, who also studies the Level 3 Diploma in Sport and Physical Activity, picked up the Volunteer of the Year award. He was hailed as a “worthy winner” after dedicating more than 90 hours of volunteering at Bleasby Primary School, in addition to doing 40 hours of compulsory work placement there. Harry, from Bilsthorpe, has managed to fit the extra volunteering hours around his studies and representing the college football team, with 99% attendance on his course and on track to achieve a high grade.
Coach of the Year awards went to Mark Lynk, futsal development officer at Mansfield Town Football in the Community, who manages the college’s football team, and Dan Richards, head coach at Mansfield Giants Basketball Club, who trains its basketball team.
Guest speaker was Ryan Bromyard, a former degree-level sports student at the college, who talked about his job as a school sports officer and coach at 2015/16 Premier League champions Leicester City Football Club, and the important role volunteering played in both his education and career success.
SPOTY awards organiser Rob Shaw, sport development and academy team-leader at the college, said: “This event is a personal favourite of mine because it allows us to honour those students and coaches who’ve performed so well over the academic year. Huge congratulations to everyone that picked up an award, not least Akym, whose hunger and desire to compete shines through.
“Our Academy of Sport is designed to give students the chance to compete in their chosen sport while studying academic or vocational qualifications. We believe you shouldn’t have to choose between the two – you can do both – and our award-winners prove it’s an approach that works.”
The full list of winners is:
• Ability Counts Players’ Player of the Year: Andrew Proud, 18, (Practical Work Skills Level 1)
• Ability Counts Manager’s Player of the Year: Sophie Dennis, 17, (Progression to Adult Life Entry-level 3)
• Horse Riding Club’s Jockey of the Year: Olivia Hayes, 17, (A-levels in English language, English literature, and psychology, plus Extended Project Qualification)
• Horse Riding Club’s Instructor’s Jockey of the Year: Phoebe Stirland, 17, (A-levels in biology, history, and English language)
• Male Football Players’ Player of the Year: Akym Davis, 17, (A-levels in business studies, maths, and law)
• Male Football Manager’s Player of the Year: Akym Davis, 17, (A-levels in business studies, maths, and law)
• Male Basketball Players’ Player of the Year: Ben Morrison, 19, (Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training)
• Male Basketball Manager’s Player of the Year: Ben Morrison, 19, (Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training)
• Sport Curriculum Student of the Year: Lewis Turner, 17, (Level 3 Diploma in Sport and Physical Activity)
• Volunteer of the Year: Harry Bates, 16, (Level 3 Diploma in Sport and Physical Activity)
• Coach of the Year: Mark Lynk (college football academy coach), of Mansfield Town Football in the Community, and Dan Richards (college basketball academy coach), of Mansfield Giants Basketball Club
• Team of the Year: Football team
• Sports Personality of the Year: Akym Davis, 17, (A-levels in business studies, maths, and law).
Sponsors and supporters of the awards were Mansfield Town FC, Mansfield Giants, Express Coaching Services, Football in the Community Ltd, England Rugby Colleges (part of the RFU), Fairview Farm Equestrian, Sherwood Colliery FC, Debdale Park Sports Club, and Anytime Fitness.