Tracey Devonport

Tracey Devonport – Sports Lecturer, Univ. of Wolv.

When were you at Polam?

1987 – 1989

What did you study at Polam?

Biology and History

What are you doing today?

Reader in Sport and Exercise Psychology at the University of Wolverhampton. As a Reader my primary role is to design and conduct research exploring contemporary questions in sport and exercise psychology. For example, questions I am currently addressing are 1) Can athletes be taught to cope more effectively? and 2) How do emotions influence sports performance? The objective is to publish the research in journals accessed by academics and applied sports professionals. Recently, we worked with the BBC and Michael Johnson to develop a large online project exploring emotions and performance. In addition to undertaking research, I lecture on the undergraduate sport degree and postgraduate programmes at the University of Wolverhampton. The research I conduct helps to keep my teaching up to date, and my ongoing experiences in supporting athletes and sports officials allow me to provide examples of how to apply theory into practice.

How did Polam help you to get there?

I studied under teachers who encouraged and guided learning in very different ways. I also gained a tremendous amount of confidence as a result of my experiences of being a boarder and the time spent with my housemates/classmates.

What’s your best memory of Polam?

I have always been passionate about sport, and so it follows that sport offers some of my greatest memories. I enjoyed the sports activities laid on by the school, particularly representing the school in hockey and swimming. I also enjoyed the inter-house competitions and walking to the Dolphin Centre to play squash during PE – no matter what the weather! In a way I need not have done all that exercise because opening the thick big wooden door into the main building was enough!

Who was your favourite teacher?

My favourite teacher was Mrs. Dobson. Explaining why is easy. She was/is a teacher who goes the extra mile and beyond to encourage learning, so long as you match her enthusiasm with your effort. I think that’s fair enough, don’t you?

I was not a student at school who was tipped to succeed academically, as some of my school reports show! It seemed to me that Mrs. Dobson was primarily concerned with helping individuals to meet their own potential whatever that potential may be, academic or otherwise. She, along with family and friends, gave me encouragement to persevere when faced with setbacks. I failed A-level Biology and had to resit to get the place I wanted to study Sport Science at University. Mrs. Dobson undoubtedly helped me pass the resit. So I got onto the course I wanted and found my academic niche. In my current job, the next step I take from a Reader role is to become a Professor – who would have thought it? … Mrs. Dobson perhaps?