Sophie Warden and Charlotte Oakley (l-r) won the Edge Hill CIMSPA Graduation Prize.

Two Edge Hill students have won an excellence award from the professional body for the sport and physical activity sector. 

Sports Coaching and Development students Sophie Warden and Charlotte Oakley, who both graduated with firsts, won the Edge Hill Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) Graduation Prize for their dedication and hard work. 

Sophie, who is now studying a Masters in Sport, Physical Activity and Mental Health at the University, said the award would be an invaluable help with her career progression. 

The 23-year-old from Preston said: “I was absolutely over the moon to win this award; it is just the icing on the cake after graduating with a first.” 

Sophie, who is a competitive 400m hurdler and president of the Edge Hill athletics team, was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder six years ago. But, determined not to let that stop her, she is in training for the BUCS Outdoor Athletics Championships in addition to her academic commitments. 

Sophie has also completed an internship with the Rugby League Cares sport and health charity, helping to launch a new initiative called Beyond the Sidelines, thanks to Edge Hill’s Student Opportunity Fund

“I’d like to do a PhD next before hopefully working in sport and mental health, coaching in education or becoming a university lecturer, so this award will be a really great boost to help me start out in my career.” 

Charlotte is now a lead sport coach for a private organisation which delivers services such as PE lessons, after school clubs and holiday clubs in Cheshire and Staffordshire schools. 

The 21-year-old, who lives in Nantwich, said: “I was super excited when I found out I had won the award as it was so unexpected.

“I had to work really hard to get the grades I did due to my dyslexia so having those academic achievements acknowledged by such an important and influential organisation within the sporting industry is a great honour.

“I believe it was my consistency that made me stand out as, like Sophie, I managed to achieve firsts in every module during what was a challenging period – half of my university career was completed during a global pandemic.

“I am truly loving my job and I believe my degree success and gaining the CIMPSA award have really helped me launch my career as a sports coach.” 

CIMSPA is the sports sector’s professional standards body which endorses Edge Hill’s sports development, management and coaching programmes, giving degrees an industry-recognised quality mark and driving student employability. 

Sophie and Charlotte have won a year’s graduate membership with CIMSPA which includes access to resources, continuing professional development courses and networking opportunities. 

Kenny Greenough, Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Sports Coaching and Development, explained that Sophie and Charlotte were selected to receive the national awards – introduced by CIMSPA in partnership with Edge Hill as one of just 10 original Higher Education institutions granted degree endorsement – in recognition of their “excellent academic and work-related success”. 

He said: “Sophie and Charlotte consistently achieved outstanding first-class marks in their studies and developed an excellent range of industry experience and employability skills by engaging regularly with placement and other work-related learning opportunities.

“They also excelled in their sporting careers, in athletics and hockey respectively, and we are extremely proud of all their achievements.” 

Edge Hill University’s Department of Sport and Physical Activity offers a variety of degrees including coaching, management, physical education, sport and exercise psychology, and sports therapy, which prepare students for a diverse range of careers. 

The Department is also working with CIMSPA to research the benefits of endorsement for current students nationally.