We sat down with Oaklands College Sports and Exercise Science student to discuss her college experience, the Rugby Academy and her exciting plans for the future!
Cece,a Peformance Herts and TASS athlete and part-time assistant coach for Rugby Tots will be leaving both Oaklands College and Saracens Centre of Excellence Academy in pursuit of joining Premiership side Loughborough Lightning.
Joining the Oaklands Wolves Rugby Academy as part of her Level 3 Diploma in Sports and Exercise Science, Cece has excelled and impressed her coaching staff during her time at Oaklands College.
Q: Tell us about your time at Oaklands College so far? What led you to study here and what do you enjoy about your time at the college?
"I am currently studying a BTEC Level 3 Sport and Exercise Science Diploma and I've really enjoyed the course because it has given me an overview of Sport - It is all very interesting, our lecturers make learning immersive and fun. I really enjoy rugby training in the mornings before lessons and having a laugh with fellow students, there is a lot of camaraderie within the academy."
Q: What inspired you to take up rugby, did you play previously? Why did you sign up for the Oaklands Wolves Rugby Academy?
"My story for how I started playing rugby is a funny one as my fellow England teammate (and peer at the time) Kelsey Clifford asked me if I had ever played rugby. It was a day after school in Year 9 and we just had a kick-about and from there onward I was instantly hooked, but I never thought I would make it to international level!
Q: As a former student of the Oaklands Wolves Rugby Academy, what was your experience at the college, what did you learn and what were your biggest achievements?
"From day one of attending the Rugby Academy I was instantly immersed into the world of full-time athletics and I believe it played a huge part of my development and helped me prepare for England selections. My primary concern was how I'd fit in, being the only female player in the academy, but the boys are like my little extended family and I had always been treated equally by all members and staff, there was no getting off easily because I was the only girl!
It was a huge learning experience for me, and I learned a lot about myself as an athlete and person off the pitch. My biggest achievements are becoming a sponsored TASS athlete being granted the opportunity to play for England against Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff."
Q: How important do you feel it is that society embrace the rise of women's sport?
"I feel it is very important that we embrace the rise of women's sport, because young girls are becoming inspired and feel that the dream of pursuing a career as an elite athlete is a possibility, due to full-time contracts being awarded to the successful sports women we see currently today.
You can't ignore it, women's sport is evolving and becoming more popular, the stands are getting fuller, it's in the news more and research has shown more females (secondary school aged) are taking up sport. After all, sport is for everybody and I feel a rise in women's sport displays equality and opportunity."
Q: What advice would you give to female students who are interested in signing up for the Rugby Academy at Oaklands?
"If you have goals of playing rugby at Premiership or international level, Oaklands Rugby Academy will offer a wide array of support networks which will ensure you grow as a rugby player, as well as give you a real insight as to what it is like being a full-time athlete.
Q: What is your experience playing within the mixed male and female Rugby Academy? Did it put you off?
"Training with the boys helped me understand more about the men's game and experience the intensity and high speed of play (touch rugby of course!). I felt I was challenged more and that has helped me grow my ability, as well as make some very good friends in the process.