Rugby star helps pupils tackle the future

Rugby star helps pupils tackle the future

2nd October 2013


A RUGBY giant, who made herself ill trying to blend in, urged schoolchildren to celebrate their unique differences as they strive to succeed in life.

Twenty-four times capped England rugby prop Katy Storie helped children at West Park Academy tackle their futures by identifying their dreams in an Olympic legacy initiative designed to inspire the nation’s youth.

In her day Katy was possibly the best tight-head prop in the world thanks to her size, enormous strength and courage.

She helped England ladies win four consecutive Six Nations titles, three European Championships and reach the final of the World Cup.

But she told 60 students in Darlington how she had struggled with her size as a child and had developed an eating disorder trying to slim down to blend in.
“I used to be made to do ballet and cried every time I wore my outfit,” said Katy, who works for Northumbria University and now lives in Blyth.

“My grandma said I looked like a baby elephant. I ended up dieting to the point where I made myself ill for about 18 months. I was out of control, miserable and ill.

“My mum saved me by taking me to a weight-lifting class and from that moment it changed my life; from the second I picked up my first weight the eating illness stopped.”

Katy spent the day at West Park Academy as part of the national 21st Century Legacy: Be the Best You Can Be, a Government initiative following London 2012.

As well as giving an inspirational talk she worked in the classroom helping students design their individual dream folders, identifying their aspirations and setting their goals for the future.

She told them how she managed to secure a scholarship at a girls’ independent school in London and was invited to friends homes – but she was too embarrassed to invite them back to her council flat.

“Then I found weightlifting, travelled the world, broke records and won medals by just being me,” she said.

“I went to Newcastle University and was asked to try out for the rugby team.

They gave me a ball and asked me to try and get to the other end of the pitch. I scored a try with four people hanging off me. I was bigger stronger and braver than anyone else which got me into the England Academy Squad and then my first cap, which I am unashamedly proud of.

“It proves that what makes you different is what makes you special; wouldn’t the world be a boring place if we were all the same.

“So spend all your time being really good at being you. Whatever it is decide what you want, work at it and it is achievable. And you can start now by thinking how you are going to make it happen.”

Year 6 teacher Julie Gibson said: “Katy was truly inspirational and the children have already grown in confidence. The dream folders will be a way to encourage, plot and assess their development.”

News in October