Ron Dearing sporting students shine on regional, national and international stage

Four students from Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) are excelling in their sporting fields, including two representing their country on the world stage.

From left, Brad Taylor, Zach Hood, Ellie Grayson-White and Jack Shepherd.

Year 12 students Zach Hood, Jack Shepherd and Ellie Grayson-White, all 16, and Year 11 student Brad Taylor, also 16, spend much of their spare time competing at the highest possible level in their relevant age categories, setting their sights on sporting success alongside their studies.

Zach is part of the Great Britain Pentathlon Squad for his level of ability in the sport, which includes running, target shooting, swimming, fencing and show jumping. He began competing when he was just seven years old, following in his older brother’s footsteps, and is now competing internationally.

Zach finished 15th in the European Championships under 17s category in Poland in June and 32nd in the world in his age group in a further international competition. He also competed in the World Championships in Italy in September, finishing 4th in the relay section alongside a teammate.

Zach, who hopes to become an engineer in the future while continuing sport in his spare time, said: “I’m competitive and I like trying to beat what my brother achieved. I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved so far and the World Championships is the highest level competition I can enter at the moment, so I’m very happy with that result.

“Ron Dearing UTC has been so supportive and the staff are really interested in what I’m doing.”

Jack, who is studying Double Engineering and Maths at Ron Dearing UTC’s sixth form, will represent England at the International Ski Federation World School Championships in Turkey in February.

He took up the sport when he was nine-years old-and was later accepted into the English Schools Ski Association Senior Squad, representing England in his age category and training in Norway.

Jack was placed in the world’s top 15 for his age group in the alpine English Championships in Italy in 2021 and returned to England for the dry ski slope season, finishing first overall for the season in his age category.

Jack, who also represents Wales in his age group, finished third in the 2021 Welsh Championships, third in the British Championships and secured other podium places.

This year, he podiumed 10 times out of the 14 dry slope races he competed in, winning the under 18 Welsh Championships and finishing third in the under 18s British Championships. He was also awarded the 2021 Bridlington Sports and Community Award for Young Sportsperson of the Year.

Jack said: “I’m really proud. My dream is to take dry slope skiing as far as I can while studying, but I’d like a career in engineering. Everyone at Ron Dearing is really pleased for me. I don’t compete in major tournaments or competitions during the school term, as I don’t want it to affect my studies.”

Ellie, who took up figure skating five years ago, began synchro skating in 2019 and competes as part of the Hull Synchronised Skating Team, Northern Starlets, training weekly in Hull and Grimsby.

The team recently competed in the Skate London Synchronised Skating Competition Open at Alexandra Palace in the capital, finishing second out of four teams. They will now go on to compete in Scotland later this month, which will see them progress to the world level of the contest if they are successful.

International competitions will also take place in Nottingham and Sheffield in January and February.

Ellie said: “I’d like to become a marine biologist in the future but be a professional skater in my spare time. I love being part of the team and everyone at school is really happy for me. I’m looking forward to Scotland.”

Brad is a trampolinist at Aspire Gymnastics Club in east Hull. He will represent Ron Dearing UTC and his club at the Yorkshire Regional Trampoline Competition in Bradford this weekend, with the chance to compete in Northern Ireland if he places first, second or third.

Brad said: “I’d like to join the Royal Air Force as a pilot in the future and trampolining could be connected to my aspiration to fly.

“The staff at Ron Dearing encourage me in my sport and training. They’ve boosted my confidence enough to make me want to do the competition. I’m really grateful for the support I’ve had and I’m proud to represent my school.”

Ron Dearing UTC Principal Sarah Pashley said: “We’re incredibly proud of Zach, Jack, Ellie and Brad and it’s amazing to have such elite athletes in our Ron Dearing UTC community.

“While sport is not the main focus at our school, it is a major part of our extensive enrichment programme and it’s fantastic to see young people who are so passionate about their sport, excelling in their chosen fields.

“Perseverance, determination, high standards and the pursuit of excellence are really important employability skills and participation in these sports is teaching our students skills for life.”