THE first crop of talented students on a school’s innovative new sports scholarship programme were officially presented yesterday.
The group of 30 young elite sports stars at Dyke House Sports and Technology College will receive top-class support and coaching and top-of-the-range equipment as part of the school’s inaugural Elite Development Squad.
The programme will see students from 11-16 supported with regular strength and conditioning testing along with nutrition, sports psychology and group mentor sessions.
They will also receive an iPad Mini to help with their progress and personalised Nike clothing while a week’s warm weather training in Spain is already being planned for October.
That training trip will be followed by five days at the training headquarters of the England national team, St George’s Park.
Andrew Jordon, headteacher at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, said: “The sports scholarship programme at Dyke House represents an exciting opportunity for students to advance their sporting achievements while ensuring they reach their maximum academic potential.”
It is believed Dyke House is the first state school in the country to offer such scholarships.
Athlete Taylor Allen, golfer Cameron Wallace, gymnast Jake Wahab and rower Mitchell Rookes are just some of the students in the first Elite Development Squad.
The school is dedicated to giving youngsters the perfect grounding to develop sporting talent and fulfil their potential both in the classroom and on the sports field.
A physiotherapist will now be based on the school’s site, in Mapleton Road, to treat any injuries while the school has also established links with both Teesside and Durham Universities.
Harry Chapman, 15, from Seaton Carew, a footballer at Middlesbrough’s famous academy, said: “It will be great for me and all of the other athletes because it gives you back-up, it prepares you for life if you don’t make it in football or whatever.”
Fourteen-year-old Andrew Bushby, from Hart Village who is both a Durham County hockey representative and promising basketball player, added: “We all get strength and conditioning testing to help us develop in the best way we can in the sport we play.
“It will be great for me. We will get one-on-one coaching in the sport we specialise in. It’s brilliant.”
Funding is available on application to help with the cost of competing in events and equipment as well as media training for all Elite athletes.
Danny Evans, 41, director of the Elite Development Squad, said: “We want these children to inspire others to push on to get on to the Elite Squad themselves.
“We have introduced a development section of 35 more students. Those students will also get the strength and conditioning testing at Teesside University with Matt Wright, who works with Olympic athletes.
“If the development section students show levels of improvement then they can also make it on to the Elite Squad and that is what we are hoping all students aspire to do.”