Dentistry student, Imogen Turner, is one of the fortunate few students each year who receive a sports scholarship from the University of Manchester. Imogen is an incredibly talented netball player and has flourished in the game since taking it up in high school after a nudge in the right direction from one of her teachers. Currently recovering from a cruciate ligament injury, Imogen discusses below the support she has received from the sports scholarship programme whilst undergoing rehab and studying dentistry at the same time…
I wasn’t really into sports before starting high school but I was encouraged by a teacher to play netball and thought I’d give it ago; eight years later it is pretty much my life.
In my last year at high school, I was encouraged to trial for, and was subsequently selected into, the North West U17 Regional Academy and Manchester Thunder’s National Performance League. After four years of enjoyable yet rigorous training and competition I am competing for Manchester Thunder U21s and also UoM 1st’s in the North Prem BUCS. Last year, I was also selected to play for the English Universities North squad.
The University of Manchester was always the university I aspired to attend as it was the same university that my Grandad graduated from, in Pharmacy, in 1951. When I received the offer to study Dentistry at Manchester it was as if all my Christmas’s had come at once, not only had I been given the opportunity to study at one of the best dental schools in the country, but I was also going to study at an institution where sport is a huge part of its culture and history. This to me was extremely exciting.
Dentistry is a very challenging degree and requires a lot of hard work. The structure of the course in first and second year has really suited me. It is largely academic and involved learning anatomy, physiology and histology through enquiry based learning. This means we drive and direct our own learning and there are few contact hours, this has allowed me to fit my work around my training and competition. We have a few clinical hours a week in which we see our own patients and develop and learn new techniques in the skills lab.
I had researched the sports scholarship before applying to the University and once here I was encouraged by my coaches and teammates to apply. The application process was straightforward, and I was awarded a sports scholarship at the start of this academic year. I was also awarded full colours and was elected to The University of Manchester’s prestigious XXI Club. Having the support of the scholarship has made juggling my netball and degree so much easier.
Unfortunately, when playing a preseason match for my club, YWCA Bury, I succumbed to the injury every netballer dreads; a ruptured ACL. The moment I felt that dreaded “pop” it felt like my world had come crashing down around me. This was the second time I had suffered from this injury, exactly three years previously I had done the same injury to the same knee.
As you can imagine my emotions were all over the place. Last time I had smashed my rehab and I knew that I was not only physically but mentally capable of doing it again however challenging it would be. The support the scholarship programme has provided for me has been incredible. They have helped me to pick myself up and helped with my rehab goal setting.
Although I have not been able to compete this season the programme has encouraged me to use my skills in different ways by suggesting I help to coach the BUCS teams. This decision is the best I have made so far in terms of my rehab as it gives me a focus and still allows me to participate fully with the sport.
As part of the scholarship programme Strength & Conditioning and Physiotherapy are provided to all scholars. The support of Nathan (S&C) and Jamie (Physio) has been absolutely invaluable to me. They have helped me to stay strong and fit whilst not being able to compete but also have kept me in the best shape in preparation for my surgeries. I would have definitely struggled without their commitment to me and their positive approach. I cannot thank them enough for their hard work.
A lot of people ask me; if you had to choose between netball and dentistry what would you choose? I hope there is never a time in my life where I would have to choose between the two and hope that with the support of the sports scholarship I can continue to play netball to a high level and still pursue a career in dentistry.
Another question I often get asked; should I apply for a scholarship? My answer is YES. if you play sport to a high level the opportunities that the scholarship creates, and the support provided is incredible.