Meet the teacher
We speak to Sam Woodward, the new sports director at Reigate Grammar school
Why did you get into teaching sport? I was lucky to do some coaching of cricket from my mid-teens and while my dream was to play professional cricket, I was not quite good enough. Coaching was something I had really enjoyed, but I was also keen to get into the class room and teach GCSE and A level PE. After a brief stint working in London, I was lucky to get a job at Whitgift School (I am an old boy) and I have loved teaching sport ever since.
How often do pupils at your school take part in sport and what sports are available? As I am new to Reigate Grammar School it is very hard to say, but I think a balanced week would include a games session, after school practice and then a competitive opportunity on a Saturday. The school sport season has natural peaks and troughs in terms of fixture schedules so some weeks may be more busy. Additionally I would anticipate many students having external sporting or non-sporting sessions on top of this
How does sport play a role in children’s development? I think sport is a fantastic vehicle to create ‘good people’. Not only through the health benefits of physical endeavour, but also through interactions with a range of people and exposure to success and failure. I really believe that if you work hard, have fun and remain humble you are pretty well set for whatever challenges/ opportunities present themselves.
Who influenced you as a child both generally and in a sporting sense? My parents and grandparents are my biggest influences as both a sports person and as a person. I watched my dad and grandad play alot of sport as child. Furthermore, I was very lucky that they spent alot of time playing sport with me in the garden/park as a child and Mum and Dad took me to practice/ matches throughout the year regardless of convenience. Outside of them David Ward (director of cricket and Surrey CCC legend) at Whitgift would be a big influence and someone I have known for over 20 years.
Favourite sport? Cricket, with Football and Rugby close second. These days I am a ‘MAMIL’ (middle-aged man in Lycra) and spend quite a bit of time on my bike throwing in the odd race.
Favourite sports person? All time: Brian Lara. Current: Peter Sagan.
If you could compete against one sports person, dead or alive, who would that be? Bat against Malcolm Marshall and his fellow West Indians at their best. I think I would be a little scared, but it would be a lot of fun!
Name three sports people you would like to invite to your school... Richie Mccaw as I love everything he and the All Blacks stood for under his leadership; Gareth Southgate – it’s such a great story from ‘96 to now. He’s a top player and as a coach has struck a chord with many who watched England this year. He also seems like a very good man. Jessica Ennis-hill is an inspirational athlete and a tremendous role model. Rather than the sports they represent, it’s the qualities that they and their performances bring/ brought as people that appeals more to me.
“I think sport is a fantastic vehicle to create ‘good people’”