Rachel Cachin - Brookes Applied, Student Spotlight

Rachel and Jess with the food they have prepared

Over the past year, Rachel's pivotal, Brookes Applied placement as a Sports Nutritionist with the Oxford Brookes UCCE Cricket Team has been instrumental in shaping her career trajectory.

Rachel, who is currently pursuing her MSc in Applied Sport and Exercise Nutrition, has embarked on a transformative journey within the field of sports nutrition this year.

As well as her experience with the Oxford UCCE Cricket Team, Rachel has also collaborated closely with a diverse array of individual student-athletes, including footballers, marathon runners, rugby players, and even a Finnish world-champion cross-country skier. All of this hands-on experience has not only refined her practical skills but also deepened her understanding of tailoring nutrition strategies to meet the unique demands of high-performance athletes. 

As her time with Oxford UCCE draws to a close, Rachel looks forward to finishing her MSc and beginning her internship with the Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Club next season.

Rachel with the food she has prepared

What is your background in sport/physical activity and why were you interested in working for Brookes Sport? 

Sport has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a child, I tried a variety of different sports, which led me to becoming both a qualified ski instructor and lifeguard. During university, I regularly competed in both freestyle and slalom skiing, until a nasty accident in an event injured both of my knees. It was a tough break, but it led me to discover something new - a real passion for nutrition and how it can enhance performance and aid with recovery. Now, I'm set on building a career where I can use what I've learned to help other athletes reach their full potential. 

What previous experiences have you had working or participating in sport before your time with Brookes Sport?

Prior to my experience with Brookes Sport, I was a qualified ski instructor, sport coordinator and duty manager in a handful of outdoor sports facilities while studying my undergraduate degree. Additionally, I worked as a dietetic assistant for a year in an NHS hospital, supporting patients in trauma and cardiovascular wards with their nutritional needs during recovery. Over the past year, I've further enhanced my qualifications alongside my course. I've obtained the ISAK Level 1 Anthropometry certification, UKAD Clean Sport Advisor qualification, Level 2 Award in Food Safety for Catering, and Level 3 First Response Emergency Care (RFQ) certification. These qualifications have complemented my academic studies and practical experience, providing me with a well-rounded skill set in sports science and nutrition.

Can you explain a little bit about your experience with Brookes Sport and how it will help with your future career aspirations? 

My year with Brookes Sport has been exceptional. It's been a privilege to work with the Brookes UCCE Cricket team and coaching staff, as well as the invaluable support staff behind the scenes who ensure everything runs smoothly. Initially, the prospect of moving to a new university and starting an MSc course was daunting. However, this placement has proven to be one of the most valuable experiences of my year. It has provided me with the opportunity to apply evidence-based knowledge in a practical setting, a foundation that will undoubtedly support me as I start my career.

Speaking of careers, I'm thrilled to announce that next year, I'll be taking on the role of Performance Nutrition intern with Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Club. In this position, I'll be supporting all men's and women's squads, from the first team to the academy teams. I truly believe this exciting opportunity is a result of the skills and experience I've gained during my time at Oxford Brookes. I couldn't have asked for a better team to be a part of this year. As I move forward in my career, I'm eager to follow the Brookes UCCE Cricket Team’s continued development and success in the years to come.

What have your learnt and enjoyed most while supporting with the UCCE Team? 

I’ve learnt a ridiculous amount! To name a few, I’ve learnt the value of building strong relationships with both athletes and staff. This has been crucial in understanding how to best support their development and help them achieve their goals. I've also discovered that planning is key to effective practice, as is reliability. Providing athletes with realistic timeframes for plans and tasks has helped me build credibility as a practitioner.

There’s been a lot of enjoyable moments, including catering for cricket events with Jess and Marcus, often filled with more laughter than cooking. Attending my first professional cricket match venue in Northampton, although the game was rained off, we got to go behind the scenes and see what goes into a professional match. Lastly, and perhaps most rewarding has been witnessing the team's success this year. Their achievements are incredibly well-deserved and it's been a privilege to work with such a talented group of athletes. 

What skills do you think are most important to have to excel in a Sports Nutrition role? 

I think one of the most important skills to have as a Sports Nutritionist is adaptability. Each athlete, team, and experience are unique, and the ability to provide individualised support can significantly impact an athlete’s performance. This might involve tailoring educational sessions to a specific audience or creating personalised nutrition plans that align with individual goals, even within a team environment. By adapting strategies to meet diverse needs, we can help athletes take ownership of their nutrition, which not only improves athletic outcomes but also allows a deeper understanding and engagement with nutrition among athletes.

Would you recommend your experience to other Oxford Brookes students looking to have a career in Sports Nutrition? 

Absolutely! I would strongly recommend to anyone aspiring to have a career in sport nutrition to grab this amazing opportunity. Given the highly competitive nature of the field, gaining quality experience with elite athletes is essential, and Brookes Sport offers exactly that. This year has been incredibly enriching, not just in terms of knowledge gained, but also in witnessing incredible results. Seeing our team advance to the BUCS National Championship finals and now preparing to play at the prestigious Lord's Cricket Ground in the coming weeks has made all the extra hours and meticulous planning worthwhile. These experiences have reinforced my passion for sports nutrition and my eagerness to help other teams achieve similar levels of success in the future. For those looking to stand out in the sports nutrition job market, this placement provides invaluable hands-on experience that can truly set you apart.

Rachel exploring cricket ground

Through Brookes Applied, we are keen to support our students to help them prepare for life beyond university. If exploring opportunities in your field interests you, please reach out to Richard, our Fitness and Wellness Services Manager to arrange an informal interview (rormiston-rees@brookes.ac.uk) to find out more.