We spoke with Jack Rhodes, a former BUCS student-athlete and now Head of Hockey at one of the UK’s top sporting universities.

With over 500 university teams competing in leagues and tournaments every year, state-of-the-art facilities, a competitive atmosphere, and world-class coaching, there are opportunities for players of all levels to get involved in hockey alongside their university studies.

Jack Rhodes, a distinguished figure in UK university hockey, exemplifies the superior coaching standards and the abundant opportunities available to students studying in the UK.

Boasting a prestigious career that evolved from being a standout player in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) system to leading one of the largest university hockey programs in the UK, Jack brings both passion and expertise to university-level hockey.

We spoke with Jack to learn about his personal journey and explore the wide range of opportunities that university-level hockey in the UK offers students.

Who is Jack Rhodes?

Head of Hockey at Nottingham Trent University

Former BUCS Player with a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Sport Coaching

International Experience with England and Wales

3 x European Champion and 5 x Senior Cup Winner with Cardiff and Met Hockey Club

Jack’s Hockey Journey So Far

Jack began his hockey journey at the age of 13 at West Bridgeford Hockey Club, progressing through England’s Youth Development Programs to reach the national age group squad.

His talents led him to Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales, where from 2018 to 2023, he competed as a student-athlete both in BUCS and National Leagues with Cardiff and Met Hockey Club, earning three European titles and five Senior Cups along the way.

After completing a Bachelor’s in Sport Coaching and a Master’s in Sport Coaching and Pedagogy, he joined Nottingham Trent University as a Performance Hockey Coach in 2022. His rapid rise saw him appointed as Head of Hockey just a year later where he now oversees an expansive field hockey program that encompasses around 300 students across six men’s teams and six women’s teams.

As a student, I played for four years with the Cardiff Met University team within the BUCS system, achieving promotion from the second tier all the way to the BUCS Premier Division. I was also fortunate to experience lots of success with Cardiff & Met Hockey Club, winning three European titles and five Senior Cups. My university playing career also led me to represent Wales U21s on multiple occasions.

The NTU Hockey Experience

As the Head of Hockey at Nottingham Trent University, Jack oversees a dynamic program that includes six men’s and six women’s teams, comprising of up to 300 students.

Balancing academic schedules with high-level athletic training, the NTU program like many other university hockey programs ensures that all student can excel both on the field and in the classroom.

A typical week for a performance hockey player at NTU includes two practice sessions, two strength and conditioning sessions with the performance squad and staff, as well as matches in BUCS Premier Division.

This schedule not only provides students with extensive playing experience in different environments but also fits well with their academic commitments. By holding training sessions and competing in the evenings and on weekends, students can fully engage in both their sports and studies without compromise.

Last year, we won six titles, with the standout achievement being the women’s National Vase competition for the second consecutive year. Additionally, several teams secured League Titles and gained promotion, putting us on track to continue expanding the program.

The Positive Impact of International Student-Athletes

Enhancing the diversity of university sports teams is fundamental to the philosophy of NTU and other UK university sports programs, who strive to foster a welcoming and challenging environment for all players.

Jack notes the presence of players from around the world on both performance teams, each bringing unique styles and experiences that enrich the sports culture at NTU.

In my time at NTU we’ve had several players from America, Europe and South Africa. I think it’s something that sits right at the forefront of who we are, we’re always open to bringing in players from different backgrounds and ultimately trying to create a very diverse and inclusive program.

A Supportive Environment for Aspiring Athletes

The coaching staff at many UK universities often consists of former international players, who bring a wealth of experience and knowledges to hockey programs.

Jack himself is a testament to the high level of coaching available at UK universities. With his international playing experience and significant coaching successes, including multiple BUCS titles, the expertise available to students is substantial.

Among NTU’s teams are two Performance sides: a men’s and a women’s first team, which include players from top European leagues, the NCAA, and some of the finest talent from across the UK.

Our performance groups have access to a huge range of support to help with their hockey. The program is dedicated to developing players at every level so there’s lots of hockey going on. We try as a club to make sure everybody has as much pitch time as they physically can.

Want to play hockey alongside your UK degree? We can help!

Working directly with Nottingham Trent University and many of the other leading university hockey teams across the UK, we can provide you with a wide range of opportunities to suit your individual academic and sporting ambitions.

Whether you aspire to improve your game and compete at the highest level, or simply be a part of a passionate community, we can assist you in finding the ideal university environment that aligns with your goals and set you on a path to success in hockey and beyond.

Dedicated coaches like Jack are dedicated as ever to helping students embrace the sport and offer exciting opportunities to talented players seeking to compete alongside their university studies.

Learn more about Hockey at the UK university level or register your details for our free service via the links below to see how we can help you take your sport and education overseas.

Please follow our social media channels to keep up to date with all things sport related across the Higher Education sector!