Holly Hodges is London Youth Rowing’s 2017-18 Apprentice Coach. Holly found London Youth Rowing (LYR) via Coach Coach, through which LYR have been signed up as a provider of Apprenticeships since 2016. Holly is LYR’s third Apprentice.

Despite only being 18 years old, rowing and rowing coaching has been part of Holly’s career plan for six years now and doesn’t show any signs of wavering.

Her Mum was allocated rowing as a Games Maker for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Naturally, Holly was allowed one of the family and friends Spectator Tickets, but when she heard the news asked, ‘what’s rowing?’

Having watched the Great Britain Rowing Team fly down the 2000m course that day, Holly made the quick decision that rowing was going to be the sport for her:

‘I told my Mum, “I want to row” and she just didn’t believe me. She was shocked because I’d never shown any interest in sport before. I hated sport in Primary School. I begged her for months to let me try rowing, and eventually I searched for a club myself. I found a learn-to-row at Broxbourne Rowing Club and on my first day said I was going to do this sport forever. I was inspired by the Olympians that day. And rowing just looked so peaceful. I loved the water and watching the way the boat moved. I know I wouldn’t have felt the same way watching another sport.’

After two months at Broxbourne Rowing Club, her coach entered her to race at Danson Dashes; short 250m sprints at Danson Lake which were, at the time, run by LYR. Holly won her race, having never been in a single before that day.

‘I remember being nervous and excited before that race. But even if I had lost I would have stayed a rower. I loved rowing before I even got in a boat. Rowing has taught me discipline and proper concentration. I’m really easily distracted, and for some reason when I started rowing that stopped. I’ve also learned about passion and responsibility, mostly because I was made Junior Rowing Captain at Broxbourne and people were looking up to me.’

Convinced rowing was going to be part of her life forever, but not feeling like she was the right build to be an elite rower, Holly turned her focus to coaching as another way to stay engaged in the sport. She says her own coaches were her inspiration, totally in awe of their knowledge and passion for the sport.

Her choice shaped her GCSE subjects and eventually the decision to study for her Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sport in place of A Levels. Shortly after completely her Diploma the Apprenticeship showed up on Twitter and it seemed like an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.

‘I’d heard of LYR because I’ve competed at NJIRC. I saw the Apprenticeship as an opportunity to start reaching my goal. I was drawn in by the opportunity to get my Level 2 coaching qualification, and also the experience that I wouldn’t get from a classroom.’

It’s been great fun and an invaluable experience. I advertise the programme everywhere I go. LYR staff have such passion for their work and give people who don’t think they have a chance, a chance. We’re helping people create a better future for themselves through sport. Like me; sport has has changed my future.’

And what does the future look like? Coaching, obviously but more than that, Holly is dreaming of coaching the Great Britain Rowing Team one day.

‘I’m finding a way to get there. I’m 100% committed to it. I’m going to get there,’ she said.

And we believe her.

Seeking a career in coaching? Apply to become a LYR Apprentice Coach today.