Natasha Kelly-MSc Health Promotion Practice part-time (Online)

Name: Natasha Kelly

School: Colasiste na Carraige

Job Title: Triathlon Ireland North West and Connacht Development Officer and Para Triathlon Project Coach  

Course: MSc in Health Promotion Practice 

 What does your current role involve?

My current role has a lot of variety, as a Development officer, I look after all the clubs in my area. I look at where the club is currently in terms of memberships, coaches, training facilities and resources and I work with the club committees as to how best to utilize what they have and how to plan for future development and participation in triathlon. I also look after inclusion events, from the likes of “New2tri”, “Tri with Pride” and “Get men Moving”, I get a lot of satisfaction from watching these programmes grow as you get to see people accomplish something they never thought could be possible. I also look after the schools’ program “Tri Heroes” so here we promote a healthy lifestyle through triathlons in both primary and secondary schools. I am also the high-performance Para-Triathlon project coach, this has been very interesting and at times quite challenging in comparison to your mainstream coaching. I have grown a lot from this role not only as a coach but also as a person. Here I coach some of our High performing Para Athletes and I am Team manager at international races. I also look at how we can increase participation in Triathlon for para-athletes and how we can best support clubs by working alongside other NGB’s, sports partnerships and CARA. We are currently prepping for the Commonwealth Games which is very exciting and I’m delighted to be traveling to my first major games as a coach. I have also been very lucky to have been selected as part of the  Sport Ireland Elite Woman in Sports Coaching Forum.  

 Tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to choosing your course 

After working 7 years in the health and fitness industry I felt that MA was the correct direction for my career. I found a gap in research in both kid’s health and women’s health and I felt that through physical education and education we could reduce this. I felt that the enthusiasm and support from the college was exactly what I needed in order to pursue this career direction, and so far, it has been a great journey! 

Why did you choose ATU Sligo? 

I choose ATU Sligo as they offered distance learning, which allowed me to work throughout my course. The college itself is well known for its health science degrees and I have a lot of school friends who completed their undergrad there and they all spoke very highly of the staff and the facilities. I also felt that Sligo wasn’t too far away from Donegal, therefore whenever I had to take a trip over it was never an inconvenience. 

How did you balance work and study? 

I think when you want to achieve something you have to be selfish with your time. At times I found it difficult being on the road with work, training and studying, However, I found that prioritizing time helped me and using the time I set aside wisely.  

What advice would you give someone thinking about choosing ATU Sligo? 

I would advise students to attend your open days, I think that you can get a good feeling from a place and sometimes that can be the decisive factor. When you’re there explore the campus, and talk to staff and other students. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t ask, you don’t get it! 

 Do you like Sligo as a student town? e.g. things to do, food, nightlife, clubs and societies, accommodation etc. 

Honestly, I don’t be in Sligo that much as I am a distant learner but anytime I do stay I have an aunt who I stay with. However, I do find that the town is lovely to run around and very easily accessible. It has some really nice coffee shops to chill out in,  the food in the student canteen is very fresh and has a great selection with a nice relaxed atmosphere. 

What specifically about your course do you particularly enjoy? 

I enjoy the range I was given for my project. I was never told “no” or you’re trying to do too much. I feel that the college is very open to new ideas and has a clear vision of the student’s direction. 

What would you say to a student thinking about studying your course? 

I would tell anybody looking at taking the course, to go for it. I know that returning to education can be quite difficult. But the staff have been more than accommodating and helpful. Moodle has been a great tool to keep in contact and up to date with other students on the course and all lectures are recorded and uploaded within 24 hours so if you do miss a lecture, it’s very easy to catch up. Also, a perk that online learning has is that that lecture is always available so if you do have difficulty with a topic the resource is always there to look back on. 

Using all the apps, library and accessing moodle can be quite daunting but again there is a great tutorial online that helped me massively when accessing online libraries and resources. 

 Tell us about your sporting career/success so far? 

  • National Intervarsity Duathlon Champion 2022 
  • 3rd at the Senior National Duathlon Championship 2022 2nd place National series finish 2022  
  • Tyrone 3km Track Champion 2022  
  • 3rd in Donegal 5km Road championships with a team Gold 2021 
  • 2nd Donegal 3km Track Championships 2021  
  • Letterkenny Triathlon club Female Duathlete of the year 2018 and 2019 Donegal Triathlon sports Star winner 2018 
  • Member of FinnValley Athletics Club, Winning individual County novice gold and Ulster novice bronze along with County/Ulster Novice team Gold, along with County senior Gold 2019 
  • Winner of Danny McDaid 15km road race 2017 
  • Member of Four Masters CC named the best female in 2019 
  • Selected and completed both Athletics Ireland Forerunner Female leadership course, Donegal Sports Partnership 20X20 women in a sports leadership program 
  • Member of Triathlon Ireland high-performance women in sport leadership and coaching program. 
  • Athletics Ireland Fit4Life ambassador 
  • Captain of Colaiste na Carraige U.16 and Senior all-Ireland final-making basketball Captain of Colaiste na Carraige school’s athletic team 

What is the best thing about sport and sports facilities at ATU Sligo? 

The facilities at ATU Sligo are state of the art, and up there with the best that I have ever used! The facility itself is very accessible, and the staff are very accommodating and are happy to help and make the sporting experience as relaxed as possible as training at such a high level can get quite stressful. Everything is under one roof, from the sports hall, gym etc with the outdoor track and running trails just outside the main building. This makes it very easy to access changing facilities and also to get a proper cooldown including stretching as you can pop up to the gym or sports hall (which is much warmer than outside during the winter months) 

 How has the sports scholarship benefited you? What are the advantages to it? 

The Sports Scholarships has helped me financially as the demands for my sport are quite costly as I essentially compete in two sports. It has allowed me to update gear, help cover membership fees and help cover entry fees to races. Access to the track, aerobic rooms and gym has helped me stay on track any time I visit the college. They have been more than accommodating anytime I need to set up my turbo trainer or use the track for a session! The facilities are up there with the best I have ever used. The staff have also been extremely helpful, checking in and they are always just at the end of the phone or email if I ever need anything, 

Learn more about the MSc Health Promotion Practice part-time (Online)