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Sharing Your Story – Edition 4 – Sport Life with Clint Cook

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Coaching


In this blog series, ‘Sharing Your Story’, I attempt to share the stories I come across that inspire me. In this addition I interview Clint Cook, a top paddler in our Durban community, as he goes through the challenges of leaving Varsity College and finding his first full time job.

In tough economic times where jobs are few, you need to stand out from the crowd and have skills to add value to the job market. The success Clint has had, I believe is directly a result of the environment he has been involved in, as part of the Sports Life program at Varsity College.

I have known Clint since he moved from Joberg to Durban some year’s back, having seen him has grow as a paddler and a strong personality off the water too. I have had the privilege of him work for me as a coach at my Surfskischool in Durban and was blown away by his friendly nature and great people skills.

Clint recently went for his first job interviews and has been successful a landing a position with a top Durban firm. I shared some of his experiences over this time and couldn’t help feel inspired for the students leaving Varsity College.

I have had a long relationship with Varsity College, first as a student and believe that the skills I learnt there prepared me for the challenges of owning my own business. Their focus of preparing students not just to pass, but for the working world has always been a stand out, with sport and part time work off campus, always being at the forefront of this mantra.

Sport Life (Varsity College’s Sporting Clubs on campus) offer students the opportunity to get involved in sports, network and live a healthier lifestyle, preparing them for success. It is awesome to see this program has impacted so positively on Clint and others.


Here is the interview:

BL. How were you first introduced to Varsity College?

CC. I was introduced to Varsity College by Grant Van Der Walt (Sports Life Captain on the Durban North Campus). I had made a return to paddling after a 2 year gap and Grant suggested I sign up.

BL. What did you decide to study?

CC. I studied an HCBPP (Higher certificate in Business principles and practice) and a BCom in Financial management.

BL. How did you involved with Sport Life on campus?

CC. When I went for my interview with Varsity College, The Principle, Keith and Student Adviser, Jo Taylor recommended I get involved with the Sports life program as canoeing was a sport offered by VC.

BL. What skills did you pick up at VC that stand you apart from your peers?

CC. VC taught me how to be myself, be an individual and stand tall. It also taught me that hard work pays off.

BL. What did you learn from sport outside the class?

CC. Sport has taught me that what you put in, is what you get out. It has given me self discipline and a sense of purpose.

BL. What part time work did you do outside of VC to build your skills?

CC. In 2015 I worked as a part time Surf Ski coach at the Surfskischool. This was great as a means of making extra cash, as well as teaching and sharing my love for paddling with others.

BL. How did the skills learnt though your years as a student impact your interviewing for your first job?

CC. When I interviewed for my first job, I knew I had the necessary skills to face any challenge as well as cope with anything that the job may throw at me. Lucie Bouwer from the VC careers Centre was a great help and mentor and gave solid advice.

BL. What were the defining factors in you getting the position?

CC. My passion for sports as well as my achievements, and the higher education and skills I gained from studying my degree through VC.

BL. How do you believe VC has prepared you for the work place now that you are in the working world?

CC. VC offered me a platform to jumpstart my life, the amount of things that VC has taught me is completely invaluable and these things will now stay with me for life.

BL. What advice would you give students starting out at VC?

CC. For students starting at VC, I suggest you get involved, get stuck in. Work hard, make friends with the Lecturers and staff, these relationships provide you with bridges to a better future.

BL. What advice would give a student going for his/her first interview?

CC. For a student interviewing, I would say that VC has taught you what you need to know, and with that qualification behind you there’s nothing you can’t do.

Thanks to Clint for sharing and good luck with a successful career.

Varsity College Sport Life Mentorship Program 2015

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Coaching

vc sport

Since 2003 I have had an awesome partnership with Varsity College, who for many years have believed in more than educating their students, but preparing them for the work place.

This ethos has rubbed off into a number of other elements of what they do. Sports Life, which is their healthy lifestyle balanced sporting program at all their campuses around the country, sponsors a number of students as, Sport Life Club Captains. Their roles are twofold: 1. managing their sporting clubs on campus and 2. Act as a VC brand ambassador in their respective sporting discipline.

For most 18-year-old students entering Varsity College life, they have little experience with sponsors and being a brand ambassador. Instead of letting them stumble their way through the year, Varsity College asked me to help put together a program to help prepare these students for their roles on campus and within the wider sporting community.

It was a privilege to work with Varsity College on this awesome project and even more special to be able to pass on some of the lessons I have learnt over the years under their support.

We put together a 3-week program with the following topics for mainly Surfski, Canoeing, MTB and Surfing athletes.

Week 1 – What is a brand ambassador? What is return on investment? How to manage expectation? How to build a relationship with a sponsor?

Week 2 – Goal Setting for personal sport and for the sports club

Week 3 – Marketing, branding, social media and reporting

It was great so see how interactive the sessions were with students giving some awesome ideas and feedback.

The result of the sessions has been profound for those involved and it is great to see how well the athlete are doing in growing the sport on campus as well as in their

sporting fields.

There are a thousand examples of this that I can go through but there are really too many for this blog. Just a glance down the Sport Life twitter handle will show what sort of impact these students are making on and off campus, check it out here https://twitter.com/VCSportsLife

The thing I love the most, is that Varsity College are really going above and beyond to support their athletes in the classroom and in their sporting endeavours. This balance is key to success and the Sports Life ethos of VC certainly is alive and well.

I hope to do another blog on these awesome students later in the year as they lead into the National Inter Varsity Canoeing Champs on the Fish River in October.

For more information on Varsity College Check out their links below

Sport Life on Twitter
Sport Life Program

Sport Life Breading Success Though Surfski

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Coaching

This last week, on my way for a paddle I bumped into a Varsity College Sports Life session on progress so took some photos to share with you along with some of the programs success.




But lets start at the beginning. I spent quite some time at Varsity College as a student, maybe more than required due to my sporting calendar overpowering my studies at times. VC luckily were very understanding and supportive of the benefits of sport.

The Varsity College back then, was not quite what you see today, they have grown and evolved, incorporating sport into the campuses with their ‘Sports Life’ program. It may look a little different but the mindset or ethos that VC has embodied has been the same in preparing a well-rounded individual for the real world.

I bumped into a friend Shaun Austin who was one of the first Sport Life students, when the program was started. Shaun has come through the ranks just like I did but more in the structure of today and he had so many positive points I really connected with. Her are some of the key things we shared about our experience with Varsity College and their Sports Life Program.

• Studying Opportunity

Varsity College certainly opened doors for me, I would never have been able to continue studying into post grad if they were not supporting me. Shaun said the same. It allows people who would not have been able to study that opportunity or those that could have the backing to go further.

• Sporting Opportunity

The sporting structures at VC don’t just give support academically. Each sport life student is assisted with kit, money to cover entry fee’s and travel as well as advice on marketing tools to build a career from the sport.

• Team Work

The value of being in a team at VC was awesome. I remember racing down the Fish side by side with Clint Pretorius to a 2nd and 3rd place, bringing home big points for VC in the national intervarsity competition. The team also worked together in running the club on campus building valuable people skills.

• Part Time Work

I worked my way through Varsity College doing part time jobs from coaching to even starting my own little businesses to bring in some cash to travel or support my paddling. This certainly helped in building market related awereness of the work place. Something VC are still strong on today.

• Networking

The people I have met through sport have become a group of friends, clients and sponsors. A valuable lesson to always nurture quality relationships in life.

Shaun today has finished his honors in Marketing and moved into a good company. He believes that he wouldn’t be where he is now without the support of VC over the years. I feel the same and am really excited more young paddlers are getting the same opportunities.

If you want to find out more about the sports life program check out http://www.varsitycollege.co.za/sport.aspx

Or book an interview with Jody Taylor at the Durban North Campus on 0315732038