When School of Hard Knocks started working with Macy two years ago on the Schools Programme, she was getting involved in fights on a regular basis. Macy was often thrown out of lessons for being disruptive and arguing with teachers. Not knowing how to deal with Macy’s attitude, her school recommended she get involved with School of Hard Knocks. It was only until she started on the programme that she and her teachers started to understand why she was behaving the way that she was.

Macy’s attitude was not her problem but merely a symptom; what she really needed to improve was her confidence. The School of Hard Knocks team realised this during the first few weeks of Macy starting the course. Whenever there was a rugby drill that Macy didn’t want to do she’d find a way to interrupt the session –  it was only when she felt uncomfortable doing something that Macy would act out. She would become frustrated and be disruptive, distracting her peers and answering back. This was not because she was simply trying to be difficult but because she was lacking in confidence and didn’t feel she could do what was being asked of her.

“Macy’s disruption came down to her lack of confidence. Messing around and getting into trouble was just her way of dealing with that, so what we needed to change was how Macy saw herself.” - Elinor Snowsill, Course Facilitator

Each week the SOHK team found a new way to engage Macy more and more with the rugby sessions so as to help her improve her confidence both on and off the pitch. This of course was not something that happened overnight and took quite some time. Rugby had never appealed to Macy and there was a period where our course facilitators actually thought that she might drop out of the programme, but something clicked when Macy made an incredible tackle, taking down one of the best players in the group.

“It was a defining moment for Macy - she found that she had a natural talent for rugby and that if she really committed herself to the sport she could in fact play professionally.”

The realisation that if she tried then she could play rugby professionally, translated to Macy’s everyday life. Macy acknowledged that she had potential, and that if she harnessed this potential and actually tried things, even when she didn’t want to, that she could have the same type of capabilities for other things too.

The classroom sessions also proved to be invaluable for Macy; she found the environment very different to a school class setting which really helped. We had multiple guests come in to talk to our Schools Course, and Macy found that the speakers had been very similar to her when they were at school. Listening to the way that they had turned their lives around truly inspired Macy to want to do the same. She started to work productively with the team to find a way to work through her frustration and anger when she didn’t want to do something and now has a much healthier way of dealing with things that make her uncomfortable. 

“I feel like School of Hard Knocks treat us differently, I feel like they understand me. They’ve helped me take my frustration out on the pitch not in the classroom and I feel a lot more confident.” - Macy

Macy has gone from strength to strength in terms of her attitude, behaviour and her talent for rugby. Off the pitch, she rarely gets told to leave the classroom and no longer gets into fights or disrupts lessons. Macy was in fact asked to mentor a new Year 7 student this year, which was a huge accomplishment and shows just how far she has come in terms of personal development. On the pitch, Macy is now co-captain of the rugby team and is hugely influential on her peers and uses that influence for the better. Instead of derailing sessions, Macy is now the one to bring everyone together. At one point or another, all of SOHK’s coaches have commented on her incredible potential and flair for the sport, and Macy now has the confidence and drive to pursue her new goal of playing internationally for Wales. 

“It feels like she’s come full circle now and that she’s ready to help and mentor other people using the things she’s learned from School of Hard Knocks. We’re so proud of how far she’s come and can’t wait to see her progress even further.”