As we approach International Women’s Day this month, it seems only appropriate to celebrate the success of Swansea University’s high-achieving female STEM students. Tirion Thomas received recognition in December as a BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality Unsung Hero, at only 19 years old. Despite this great achievement, her ambition has now led her to a very different undergraduate degree.
“It has been my ambition to be a midwife since I was very young,” she said. “After giving my all to rugby for the past three years I knew this was the time to devote myself to my future career instead, so I’ve taken a step back from my rugby commitments.”
Tirion’s dedication to her future career in midwifery has been recognised and appreciated by those around her in the time since receiving her award from the BBC. Head of Midwifery Education Susie Moore said: “We are so proud of Tirion and her achievement. The fact she has shown such a commitment and dedication to something she is passionate about really speaks volumes for her. We are delighted she is now bringing that drive and enthusiasm to her studies with us and wish her every success.”
The award was given in acknowledgement of Tirion’s work coaching Bala’s Under-13s, Under-15s and Under-18s girls teams while also captaining RGC’S Under-18 side. Having tried dance and gymnastics in the past, it wasn’t until she tried rugby that she discovered what she really enjoyed. “Nothing seemed to work for me until I discovered my love for rugby. When we moved to Bala from Manchester, I joined the girls’ rugby team and have been part of the club ever since.” However, three years ago the team found itself without a coach, so Tirion decided to step up. “I couldn’t watch the team disappear, especially after how much it had given to me over the years.”
Her hope is that the award will draw more attention to womens’ rugby. “An award like this is massive for rugby in general but I feel the greatest impact is the recognition it gives not only to my work but also to the efforts of everyone involved in women’s rugby, especially here in Wales.
“Just being nominated was a real privilege but to win was unbelievable. I am still over the moon. Coaching and volunteering is something I thrive on, so it is great to know what I do is having a positive effect on others. Rugby allows me to control my stresses and coaching provides me with joy.”
Now that she’s turned her focus to her undergraduate degree, it’s important to Tirion to find a balance of her multiple passions. “Finding a balance between my degree and my passion for rugby is essential. It allows me to do what I enjoy as well as helping with my mental health – something that is definitely important when completing a demanding course which brings its own challenges.
“Rugby has a massive place in my heart – whether as a player, coach or supporter I feel the rugby community is just one big family and it provides me with a great support network.”
The Waterfront wishes Tirion all the best with her future endeavours, and with her degree in midwifery.