Last month, Maddi Eager was honoured for the time and commitment she has given to the community, and how it has helped her grow as a young person.
Maddi, was handed the HITZ Community Impact award, supported by Wooden Spoon, at a glamourous London ceremony at the BT Centre, with Gloucester Rugby’s HITZ programme member shining as one of five winners at the 2017 HITZ Awards in November.
The teenager, who dreams of carving out a career as a sports nutritionist at a rugby club, was one of the thousands of disadvantaged 14-19 year-olds that work with Premiership Rugby’s award-winning education and employability programme, HITZ, every year.
Maddi dropped out of school during her A-Levels as a result of the severe anxiety and self-esteem issues caused by Blount’s Disease, a growth disorder of the tibia, but is now looking to the future with renewed optimism after developing through the HITZ programme run at Gloucester.
“What originally drew me towards the HITZ programme was my love of rugby and the thought that I may be able to improve my passing and kicking skills but I didn’t realise I would take away so much more than just rugby skills from the programme,” she said.
“It sounds like an exaggeration but the HITZ programme has without a doubt changed my life – from the way I tackle my mental health, to my physical fitness and newfound passion for nutrition and sports science.
Congrats Maddi Eager and @gloucesterrugby 🎉 Maddi is the first winner at tonight’s HITZ Awards 2017 as she takes home the @HITZRugby Community Impact Award, supported by @charityspoon #HITZAwards pic.twitter.com/qQiA0093Se
— Wooden Spoon (@charityspoon) November 21, 2017
“During my time on the HITZ programme, I have changed dramatically as a person in the best way possible.
“Attending the gym twice a week with HITZ has helped me build up the confidence and pushed me to sign up to a gym off my own back, and I now also watch what I eat very carefully thanks to our lessons on nutrition and healthy eating.
“I now try to break down any barriers my anxiety may cause me to instantly put up in social situations or in activities that I am not initially comfortable with.
“My time at HITZ hasn’t been the easiest – it’s actually been fairly difficult for me to get around these various obstacles – but the experience has benefit me beyond belief, to the point I am strongly considering returning to complete the next level of the programme.”
At first, Maddi was uncomfortable with working in groups, having grown up finding it difficult to be physically active due to the serious bowering of her lower leg.
However, by learning rugby’s core values and developing her life and employability skills at Gloucester, she went on to clinch the HITZ Community Impact award, which was presented to her by England World Cup winner Phil Vickery.
Maddi has run charity events, volunteered in a care home, has offered advice to HITZ learners struggling with school and is now even working towards reattempting her GCSEs and A-levels, with the aim of studying for a degree at Hartpury College.
The HITZ programme, delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby and funded by national partners Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon, uses rugby’s strong core values to improve life and employability skills for disadvantaged young people, underpinning success in education, life and work. See @HITZrugby for more