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Valkyrie's rising rugby star Chevelle Clarke secures York College sponsorship

Rising rugby league star Chevelle Clarke has admitted she is “super grateful” that York College & University Centre have sponsored her for York Valkyrie Under-19s’ 2024 season.

Chevelle, 18, is studying our Level 3 Foundation Diploma in Sports Coaching & Development, whilst also making a name for herself with the oval ball.

As well as representing the U19s, Chevelle made her debut for the senior Valkyrie side last year during a season in which they were crowned the best in the country as Super League winners.

This year, she will continue to train with the U19s squad twice a week and the seniors once and, on receiving the financial support from College, she enthused: “I am super grateful because it will help fund equipment that will help us progress and better ourselves this season as an Under-19 squad. When I first started here with York, I was on an Under-16s programme with only four other players, but it’s grown over the years and we’re playing competitive Under-19 games.

“It was also great to make my senior debut last season and have my name on the back of a shirt and a heritage number as well. My ambition is to play rugby league as a full-time professional, but also to inspire people to play the game.”

Chevelle first picked up a rugby ball in Year Six following a visit to her school by local coaches.

She initially played for East Leeds Amateurs but, after joining York Valkyrie, made the decision to commute into College from her West Yorkshire home for her post-16 studies.

Having enrolled on our Professional Patisserie & Confectionary course, at the end of her first year Chevelle switched to study a Level 3 Foundation Diploma in Sport Coaching & Development.

That transition means she has the skills to rustle up a range of nutritious dishes but is now pursuing an educational pathway that better suits her career ambitions and also complements her development and progression as a rugby player.

Chevelle pictured with (from left-to-right): York College & University Centre Head of Sport, Public Services Hair & Beauty Karen Goodman, Director of Marketing & External Partnerships Sarah Leatherbarrow, Principal & Chief Executive Ken Merry, Head of Business Partnerships Michelle Lanaghan and York RLFC Account Manager Lydia Burley

“I had really good grades on the Cookery course and really enjoyed it, but decided that career route wasn’t for me,” she explained. “The course I’m doing now helps you have different views on how to better your skills in coaching, which is something I want to do in the future.

“I would love to be a coach or a PE teacher, because I think it’s great to help kids better themselves in sport, whether I’d be doing that with them an hour or two a week or full-time. All the tutors are also super supportive and the fitness testing that was done at the beginning of the year has helped me in terms of my rugby training, because you get to know if there’s anything you need to improve on.”

On the decision to sponsor Chevelle for the 2024 season, York College Principal and Chief Executive Ken Merry declared: “At York College, we are always immensely proud of our students, especially when they are able to showcase their obvious talents. Chevelle is a gifted rugby player and, when the opportunity to sponsor her was made available to the college, we simply had to be involved.

“Chevelle works hard in both College and her rugby. It is this level of commitment and dedication that gives me the confidence she will go on to wonderful things in the future and, to be able to play just a small part in the journey, is a great privilege.”

Neil Gulliver, General Manager of York RLFC, added: “It is great to see York College supporting one of our Valkyrie U19 players through player sponsorship.

“Their ongoing support will help Chevelle reach her potential both academically and on the pitch. We have worked closely with the college for a number of years and are hugely appreciative of their support.”

Expressing her thanks for the sponsorship, Lydia Burley, Account Manager at York RLFC, said: “Ahead of the 2024 season, we introduced player sponsorships for the Valkyrie U19s' players to help support the ongoing development of women's and girls’ rugby league here at York RLFC.

“It is a pleasure to have the support of York College through their sponsorship of Chevelle and their engagement and passion towards the future of the women’s game. I look forward to continuing to work with the York College team and appreciate their ongoing support.”

To learn more about our Level 3 Foundation Diploma in Sports Coaching & Development, please click here