Rachael’s association with LJMU goes back to her own school days in the late 1990s. As a sixth form student she had a work experience placement at the I.M. Marsh Campus and was eventually offered her first coaching role working on the school summer holiday activity camps, hosted on campus. She was able to gain qualifications as a swimming teacher and lifeguard while she worked.
She was determined to study at LJMU and had applied for a place on the sports science programme, but sometimes our best laid plans take on a course of their own.
“I didn’t quite get the points from my A-levels and calling up on results day was told I hadn’t secured the place on my sports science course I had applied for!” explains Rachael. She rang Track Dinning, her LJMU boss at the time and who today works in our Faculty of Business and Law, to explain that she would be later than thought into work as things hadn’t gone to plan.
“It was then that she told me not to worry and that she would get a lecturer to call me. Within half an hour I received a call from a senior lecturer and programme leader of a new course, Sport Development. He asked me questions about what I had done in relation to sport and what I wanted to be. After talking for around half an hour he offered me a place on the course and the rest is history.”
Rachael remembers the many great lecturers she had throughout her three years of study and has since gone on to work alongside many of them, and can now call them friends, as 15 years after graduating and teaching in a local secondary school she returned to LJMU as a part time lecturer on the sport coaching and development courses.
“As well as working, being a mum of two and COVID thrown in, I felt really proud to graduate again this year.”
– Rachael Grace
Determined to secure her career in higher education, Rachael’s next ambition was to work towards a PhD and a full-time permanent role with LJMU. She managed to persuade School of Sport and Exercise Sciences colleagues Lawrence Foweather and James Rudd to let her study part-time for an MPhil as part of a research project looking at how PE is delivered to young children in relation to their development both physically and cognitively. She did this alongside being a programme leader of a collaborative partner Foundation Degree at Greenbank Sport Academy and more recently Physical Activity Programme Coordinator and Apprentice Tutor. After four years, and navigating a pandemic, Rachael graduated in March 2023. “As well as working, being a mum of two and COVID thrown in, I felt really proud to graduate again this year.”
Not only is Rachael an inspiration for the students of today to work hard, be persistent and to be determined in all you do, but she is a tutor for Swim England and finds the time to support local netball teams in Liverpool.
“I restarted playing netball after stopping during my first year at uni. It was actually an LJMU student who came to my school on teaching practice who introduced me to the team, at the time called JMG (John Moores Girls). Having played for a few seasons I became captain when we affiliated to the I.M. Marsh based football club Marshalls, of which my husband is Chair. I have helped Marshalls Netball Club grow to five senior squads and seven junior squads. I play in our division one team and coach the under-14 age group, my daughter Abi’s age group, who have represented the club at a regional level this season. I am also the current chair of the Liverpool Netball league.”
In April 2023 she was recognised for her work with the netball club by The Jockey Club and awarded the Rose Paterson Sportswoman Community Award 2023 at the Grand Women’s Summit on ladies' day at the Grand National Festival.