Fran Williams - Balancing my time as a student and netballer

Fran Williams will be writing a monthly column with The Netball Show throughout the 2019 season.

In this second edition she discusses juggling her responsibilities as a student and the first half of the Vitality Netball Superleague season with Wasps Netball.

*Published before Strathclyde Sirens fixture on Wednesday 6 March

It’s been a busy time of late for me and a reminder of how challenging it can be balancing my time as an athlete as well as being a student at University of Birmingham.

We’ve covered a lot of miles travelling in our first six Wasps Netball games this season, with five games away from Ricoh Arena.

But now we have a three-match stint at home, which is a huge bonus for me, because it gives me chance to spend a bit more time at university – particularly in the library!

I’m in the middle of my exam period at the moment and not having to travel to away games means I can concentrate on my lectures and seminars in the build-up to my exams.

I decided this year to split my degree after getting onto the full-time England Roses programme, which has helped me to manage my university and netball balance a little better.

Everyone at university has been really accommodating, recognising my sport commitments and ensuring I have been able to fit in all of my Wasps training alongside lectures.

Being able to split my time between university and netball has helped me to be at my best in both – and the progress the University of Birmingham team has made in the BUCS Championship has tied the two together perfectly.

We’re through to the quarter-finals after topping our group! The fact that we have done so with so many teammates from the Wasps Under 21s tells you all you need to know about the bright future that we have at Wasps.

Any athlete will tell you that it’s important to have a good support network behind you.

I’m lucky that my housemates take such an interest in my career. They are a constant source of support and whenever we have a live game on TV I know they’ll be at home watching and cheering me on.

They’re huge Rachel Dunn fans and they had a photo with her at the Saracens Mavericks game – which was a real highlight for them and real amusement for me!

We’re on six wins now and we’re still the only unbeaten team, but if there’s one thing our start to the season has shown us it’s that there will be no easy games.

We’ve shown with our two recent back-to-back away games that we have all the qualities necessary to keep winning games.

Both games were tough and physical battles, so it’s good to see that we can pull together and come away with all three points when we are under pressure.

It will be a different kind of test with three quickfire games at home in eight days – but we’re confident that we will be able to recover quickly between the games.

It will be great to get the game against Manchester Thunder under our belts. It’s our catch-up game, so a win against them would put us in a great position for the weeks ahead.

We need these tests to keep coming at this early stage in the season to prepare us for the challenges ahead.

We love playing in front of our fans at Ricoh Arena and it will be a real treat to be there so often over the next week or so.

I look forward to seeing you all at the games.

Allez, Allez, Allez.