Meet The Athlete Mentor: Vicki Fennell

Personal Development and Switch the Play Coach Vicki Fennell is a former member of the Royal Air Force and RAF Reserves. Here she explains the similarities between transitioning from a military career with leaving a sporting one. 

09 Jul Meet the Mentor: Vicki Fennell

Vicki Fennell has spent most of her career coaching. She’s coached professional business people including, middle managers and team leaders, teachers, charity workers, small business owners, athletes and military personnel. As a former member of the Royal Air Force and RAF Reserves she understands the challenges faced when leaving a structured life and settling into a new one. Vicki has helped military personnel and their spouses prior to, during and beyond their resettlement phase from the Armed Forces in to a civilian career and life.

Why do you enjoy mentoring athletes?

There are strong similarities between professional athletes and Armed Forces personnel when transitioning out of sport and into a new career and life.  The challenges when facing transition from sport or the military can be daunting, and the individual is often overcome with negative emotions and thoughts.  I like to experience the person gaining confidence in their new environment, changing their mindset, building their self-belief to believe that they can move forward and achieve a new career.

What common challenges do athletes face when it comes to transition?

Not knowing what they will do next.  Where to get support and help from.  What they want/would like to/could/should do as their next career.  Who to trust.

Feelings and emotions they may experience can include: Loss of identity, not prepared, lack of confidence and self-belief, feeling of failure, lack of self-worth, confusion, fear of the unknown, daunted, depressed, anxious, scared, lost, a feeling of bereavement for what they’ve lost, anger, denial, frustration.

What do athletes get out of one-to-ones with a mentor or coach?

Coaching and mentoring are two different support interventions.

They would be matched with a mentor, who would share their knowledge, skills and experience, giving advice and opinions to assist the other to progress in their own lives and careers.

As a coach, I don’t offer opinions or give advice.  Coaching empowers people to take ownership of their situation and enable them to move forward more quickly than if they continued to try on their own.  A coach facilitates a conversation, involving positive, forward-focused questions which allows the person to focus on their desired aspirations or goals, prioritise, understand their values and beliefs, build confidence, gain clarity and develop a realistic and achievable action plan to achieve their desired outcome.

What’s your most memorable sporting event?

Achieving my black belt in Tae Kwon Do in April 2019 (in my late 40’s!)

If you could invite 5 famous people to a dinner party, who would it be?

Ant Middleton

Duchess of Cambridge

Rev. Richard Coles

Joanna Lumley

Gareth Southgate

For a limited period only, Switch the Play is offering the first hour FREE on all coaching packages. Read here for more detail or email