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Today we had the great privilege of being visited by Lioness and Connell alumnus Jess Park (above, right), who spoke to our Sport students about her career path.

Jess studied BTEC Sport & Exercise Science at Connell, alongside playing for MCFC. She achieved D*D*D*, which is the top grade, as well as attending training and being a committed footballer. She said that she always knew she needed to focus at college and ensure she completed all her assignments to achieve the best grades possible. Football is not a guaranteed career, and she explained how important it was for her to have a back-up plan for the future. With her qualification, she will be able to go to university if she wants to, and study to be a nutritionist or go into sport rehab.

Jess told us about her football journey from playing initially at Hull as a child and teenager, to moving to MCFC when she was only 16. She had the opportunity to apply for a scholarship to the USA to play football there after she finished college, but ultimately she decided to stay at MCFC. Although she was on the first team, she was not regularly playing in matches and felt she was unable to improve. She was given the chance to go on loan to Everton, where she is currently playing, and will go back to MCFC at the end of the season. Since being at Everton, her performances have improved, and has now been called to represent England as a Lioness!

Jess spoke about all the careers in sport that are available, and how essential they are in supporting professional athletes. She said that the best football clubs have the best staff – including nutritionists, coaches and recovery staff. Sport Scientists work with athletes every day as coaches and trainers in the gym. Jess also works with a Sport Psychologist to ensure her mental health stays strong and she is able to stay positive and focus on her performance. 

Jess told us about playing in the Everton/Liverpool derby in March this year, and how amazing the environment was. She said the stadium was packed and there was such positive energy from the fans of both teams, with both sides congratulating her when she scored. 

Jess finished by giving some important advice to the students about social media. As a footballer, she often receives negative comments and trolling. She said that she doesn’t even read them, because other people’s opinions don’t matter. The most important thing is that you believe in yourself and you know you are doing the right thing.