A promising young rugby player has won a scholarship to enhance his sporting talents in the US.
From January 2019, 19-year-old Zack Bolton will study for a sports degree and train at a top university in America.
The opportunity came about after Zack, from Stockton, completed a two-year sports studies course and a one-year extended sports diploma at Gateshead College.
During his time at college, he acquired skills and knowledge in several key disciplines, including fitness and conditioning, sports performance and leadership skills, physiology and sports psychology. He also got the chance to learn from experienced industry professionals such as Newcastle Falcons coach Rob Jones, who has also coached Gateshead Thunder and the Indian national team.
Zack said: “This is a great opportunity for me to progress my rugby career and sample life in a different country. After studying at Gateshead College, I got in touch with a contractor in America, First Point USA, which has helped more than 8,000 students win scholarships since 2001. They set up a series of trials for me in the UK, testing me on everything from practical rugby skills to theory on fitness and conditioning.
“Ultimately my aim is to make it as a professional rugby player. Thanks to Gateshead College and the skills and experience I acquired while studying there, I’ve every chance of realising that goal.
Zack’s enthusiasm for the sport was triggered by a chance encounter while he was helping out in his grandmother’s newspaper shop at the age of ten.
He said: “I met a lad who was really into rugby and it sparked my interest in the sport. I played rugby union until I was about 16 and since then I’ve played a mixture of union and league.
“It has taken a lot of dedication to get where I am today. I used to travel from Stockton to Gateshead on public transport and I had to get six different buses! That said, it was worth the effort; the tutors at college were really interested in my personal and professional development and made every effort to help me be the best I can be.”
Programmes of study at Gateshead College’s Academy for Sport allow students to play or coach in their chosen discipline while studying for nationally recognised qualifications. They also develop skills needed to become an elite sportsman or woman or forge a successful career in other areas of the industry.
Matt Fieldhouse, coach at Gateshead College’s Rugby Academy, said: “Zack has done tremendously well and deserves his chance to study and play rugby in the US. His drive and dedication both on and off the field, has been a great example for all of our rugby players this year and I wish him the best of luck in the future.”
“Our development programmes at the Academy for Sport prepare our students thoroughly for a career in the sports industry. They’re able to take advantage of some fantastic opportunities and gain nationally recognised qualifications that help them progress up the career ladder.
“They also get valuable work experience, which looks great on their CV. Another of our former students, Will McCubbin, has just completed the first year of his rugby scholarship in the US. He’s studying exercise science at the Life University in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta, Georgia. I hope many more students follow in the footsteps of Zack and Will.”
Academy for Sport students work with coaches to attain sporting excellence whilst gaining academic and coaching qualifications in an environment which inspires them to achieve great success. The college has academies in men’s and women’s football, athletics, basketball, boxing, cricket, netball and rugby.