SOUTH Shields rugby star Katy Mclean went back to her day job with a fantastic summer holiday story.
When Class One pupils returned to Bexhill Academy, in Sunderland, for the start of the new academic year, they discovered how their teacher, Katy, had led England’s women’s rugby team to World Cup victory.
The 29-year-old took her winners’ medal to show the youngsters, and held a special assembly to tell the children all about her experiences.
Katy, whose England side claimed the cup by winning against Canada last month, has signed up to become a full-time player in a deal which will see her squad become professionals.
Her time at the school, where she has worked since 2010, will come to a close next month, but she aims to keep their links alive as she becomes an inspiration for future generations.
Katy said: “It’s been a manic summer, and though the majority of the kids have seen the medal already on their parents’ phones, iPads or tablets, it’s just exciting to be back.
“The staff have been amazing – lots of people watched the game, some of the girls had it on in the pub, and people have been brilliant.”
Katy, who got interested in the game through her father, Dave, who played for Westoe Rugby Club, in South Shields, said the decision to become a rugby professional was one of the toughest she has faced, torn between a career she loves and the game she is so passionate about.
But with the next Olympic Games on the horizon and the groundbreaking contract offer to the squad, she said she could not pass up on what could be her only opportunity to play professionally.
Paul Martindale, the school’s headteacher, said: “I watched the game on Sky, and was following her on Twitter, and sent a few messages saying how good she’d been and good luck for the next matches. It’s an unbelievable achievement for somebody to be a world champion and also hold a challenging job as a teacher, and she’s done amazingly well in both careers.
“The assembly included her diary of her summer, and we watched some clips of her lifting the cup.
“It’s a unique experience.
“But for us it has tinges of sadness because we’re going to lose a fantastic teacher, but she’s been offered the opportunity of a lifetime.
“People are so proud of her and the staff have been supportive, and the feeling is it’s great to see a local girl has done good.”
Bosses at the Rugby Football Union say the contact the squad, which includes 12 members of the World Cup side, will help the team compete on a global level and prepare for the next Olympics.
Katy, who studied for a sports studies degree at Sunderland and has also worked for SAFC’s charity the Foundation of Light before joining Bexhill, will make the move to Surrey and train five times a week at Twickenham Stadium and Surrey Sports Park.