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Jack Woodburn

BSc Sport and Exercise Science - Graduated July 2020, Upper Second Class Honours

Head of Sports Science, Okkulo

My Newcastle University journey started in February 2017 at the university open day. A knee injury had cut my football career short meaning I had to re-evaluate my options. Newcastle was attractive as it had a new sports and exercise science course that was linked to the biomedical science school and its medical focus gave added appeal. When I arrived, the facilities exceeded all my expectations. I attended wearing a knee brace and was pleased to hear that the university would be happy to assist in getting me back to playing football again. My initial experience of Newcastle University made an immediate and lasting impression, before leaving the open day I knew I wanted to study there.
I opted to complete my course over 3 years undertaking modules on biomechanics to nutrition, sports psychology to physiology as well public health and diseases. It was a really well-rounded course interspersed with external speakers coming to talk about their areas, one being the Newcastle United doctor who I remain in contact with now.


Prior to university I had been a football coach and continued this with my connections made at university. I worked at Diddikicks as a lead coach and a lead goalkeeper coach at Newcastle United Foundation coaching their elite goalkeepers. The university made a significant contribution to my injury recovery with specialist strength and conditioning support. I managed to return to play for the university team where I also took on the role of goalkeeper coach in my 3rd year continuing this after graduation.
Through my time at Newcastle University, I took a keen interest in the performance side of sports science and how athletes can gain an advantage over their opponents. I connected with my employer after leaving university through my football connections in Newcastle. I am now employed as Head of Sport Science at Okkulo, a company based in Newcastle that trains athletes’ vision enabling them to see quicker and perform better. Since leaving university, I have worked alongside a variety of professional athletes and sports clubs such as Sunderland AFC, Salford City, Great Britain Baseball team as well as a UFC Fighter.
Newcastle University provided me with a unique set of opportunities and skills that allowed me to transition seamlessly from my academic studies into a professional role at a sports-tech company.