INTERVIEW WITH TAYLOR O’NEILL
Over the next few weeks, we will be showcasing the incredible passion and talent within our coaching team. To kick things off, here we catch up with our new coach recruit – Taylor O’Neill
Great to have you on board! How did you first hear about Sport For Confidence?
Whilst working as a part time lifeguard at Basildon Sporting Village I got to know Lyndsey, Founder of SFC, and witnessed first-hand the incredible work she was delivering with her team. I have always loved sport and believe access to its many benefits should be the right of everyone, regardless of ability. I loved the way Lyndsey and the team created inclusive opportunities for those who may otherwise not be able to enjoy sport in the way that I have been able to all my life. The more I learnt about the organisation and the SFC programme, the more interested I became in getting involved.
How did you get into coaching?
My passion has always been dance. I just love the freedom of expression, creativity and movement it enables. As a youngster, I learned a variety of dance disciplines. When I finished my A’Levels, I was fortunate to be able to continue my education and love of dance by reading for a BA (Hons) Degree in Dance Studies at the University of Roehampton.
After graduating, I thought I wanted to become a professional dancer but whilst I still enjoyed taking part, I was less enamoured by the highly competitive, cut-throat nature of the performing arts industry. As a result, I decided to keep dancing as a hobby and pursue a professional career that would be rewarding, challenging and fulfilling on a day to day basis. I became interested in coaching and was fortunate to be accepted onto a Coach Core coaching apprenticeship.
How did the apprenticeship lead to a job with SFC?
Whilst studying for the apprenticeship, I kept in touch with Lyndsey and, before I completed the course, a full time coaching role became available with SFC. I interviewed for the job and got it! I will now continue my education alongside my coaching role. There is always plenty to learn and I am keen to develop my skills so that I can become the absolute best coach I can possibly be.
Where will you be based?
I am really lucky to be based at the brand new Harrow Lodge Sports Centre in Hornchurch, working closely with SFC Occupational Therapist, Vera Loughnane. The centre really is fantastic and built to accommodate everyone. With its Changing Places accredited facility, wheelchair lift and adjustable floor in the main pool plus great access throughout, I am looking forward to making full use of the facilities in my coaching sessions.
What specifically attracted you to the coaching role at SFC?
There were a couple of factors that made SFC stand out for me. Firstly, I have huge admiration for the work the team deliver. Creating opportunities for people who might otherwise struggle to access meaningful sport and physical activities is something I am really passionate about. Disabled people are half as likely to be active as the rest of the population, yet they have so much to gain from getting involved. I am passion about making structured, progressive and person-centred sport and activity available to all. This is exactly what SFC delivers.
Also, I am able to share my dance specialism with the participants. Self-expression through dance triggers such joy and happiness. In the SFC sessions we don’t practice a particular style of dance. Instead, we select a piece of feel-good music and learn a choreographed routine together. I absolutely love watching the participants develop their skills. It gives me a great deal of personal satisfaction and reward to bring people along on the learning journey with me and see them thrive. During enforced centre closures I have been delivering dance sessions via video conference so I am really enjoying a return to face to face delivery.
What is your personal development ambition?
I want to keep learning and challenging myself. As a coach the learning journey never ends. I love this about the job. There is always a lesson to learn either through formal courses and qualifications or through day to day lived-experience. Working with SFC has also opened my eyes to the incredible work delivered by occupational therapists. It may be that I might explore options to develop as an OT in the future but for now, I just want to carry on with my coaching and learning as much as I can from the experience.
What advice would you give to others thinking of pursuing a career as a coach?
Do it! It is so rewarding. When I go home at the end of the day, I know that my efforts have had a hugely positive influence on the people I have coached. This is an incredible feeling. Also – the work of a coach is never done. There is always more to learn and more to give. This maintains interest and motivation for the long term. I love what I do and would encourage anybody thinking about getting involved in coaching to go for it!