A former Coventry College (@coventrycollege) rugby student has made a title-winning start to his four-year scholarship across the pond.
Tom Keay, who was an instrumental figure on the Coventry College Rugby Education Programme between 2017 and 2019, has helped his Queens University of Charlotte side to the Division 2 National Championship in his first season.
The Coventry-born fly half, who started his rugby career at Old Coventrians RFC, bagged himself a try in the 73-3 victory over University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, earning himself the most valuable player accolade in the process.
Tom is combining his on-pitch exploits with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise and Sport Science, with a minor in Sports Management, at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina, USA - an extension of what he studied during his time at Coventry College.
Tom’s American dream comes off the back of a productive two years at Coventry College, where he graduated with a distinction grade on the BTEC Sport Level 3 Rugby Union study programme, and helped the College to the AoC Sport semi-finals, along with finishing third in the Portugal Youth International Tournament in 2019.
Tom said: “I’ve had an amazing first 18 months out in America - it’s been a real eye-opener.
“Not only have I been able to develop my knowledge for a career in the sports industry, but I’ve also been able to raise my game on the rugby pitch.
“I now have friends from California to New Jersey to South Africa. That is such a benefit that I didn’t think of before, and I hope it will help me make connections in my future life as I look to progress on to the MLR competition along with developing my coaching career with different organisations.
“Coventry College has been instrumental in helping me to get to where I am today - equipping me with the academic knowledge and developing my game on the rugby pitch to prepare me for this opportunity.
“The process to secure a scholarship is a challenging one, but achievable if you put your mind to it and have the right support network around you.
“I was fortunate enough to have secured some help from a sports agency after leaving Coventry College by contacting them with a highlights reel of myself in action.
“All sorts of factors come in to play on whether a university decides to offer you a scholarship, including whether they like your action clips and can see you fitting into their team, and of course, how academically qualified you are.
“If there’s any advice I have for others wanting to follow a similar scholarship route to mine, it’s to really buy in to the elite tools that Coventry College has at its disposal. They place great emphasis on video analysis, so keep collating clips of yourself in action and take on board advice from the coaches who can help you - this will really help to build a bank of footage that will help you to develop your knowledge on and off the field.”
Pete Glackin is the Academies Manager at Coventry College’s Academy of Sport - which enables students to combine a wide range of sports including football or rugby with academic study to prepare for a career as an elite athlete, as well as careers within the sports industry.
Students with an interest in other sports can also adopt the same study approach via the College’s Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme.
Pete added: “It’s brilliant to see Tom taking this next step in his career, and his story is just one of the many different avenues that students on our sport study academy programmes can go down when they eventually leave us.
“Alongside the overseas scholarship route, we have also had other rugby students go on to play for premiership first team, as well as students joining the backroom staff of other elite sporting organisations.
“Joining our sporting programmes is a fantastic way for the next generation of aspiring sports performers to begin building a career in the industry at various levels.”