Meet the new St. John’s Athletic Director

ahAfter 34 years at St. John’s, coach Davis will start enjoying his well-deserved retirement. We asked the new Athletic Director, Anthony Hennelly, about his background and plans.

Please tell us about yourself and what you bring to the school? 
I am Irish and British. I am currently working at Finchley High School in North London, having returned to the UK from working abroad in Bangkok, Thailand and Auckland, New Zealand. Prior to working abroad, I was in charge of Sports Development at Imperial College London; regularly ranked in the top ten Universities worldwide. I have worked for both the community and youth academy departments for Queens Park Rangers professional football club in England and fulfilled Head Coach and Coach Mentor roles with Westway Development Trust and The Football Association.
With some friends, I have attempted to play in the longest game of 5 a side football (46.5hrs raising over £10000 for charity) and SUP’d (stand up paddle-board) the Gota Canal in Sweden (over 200Km). Alongside my wife, I spent a year travelling around the world in 2014/15 gaining an exposure to many different cultures as well as professional practices in International Schools and Universities.
I have a number of sports coaching and leadership qualifications and I have completed the PGCE international with the University of Nottingham (UK). I am now in the process of completing my Masters in Education with the same institution.
I have experience in planning, delivering and evaluating participation and performance sports programmes to a wide range of engagement groups and I feel I am in a strong position to support students, coaches and colleagues in their continued development at St. John’s.

What attracts you to St. John’s?
Immediately I was drawn to the schools highly regarded reputation and emphasis on holistic learning. The emphasis on sport, physical activity and art are important to me as key pillars of development. I believe (alongside academic subjects) these areas offer some of the most powerful learning environments allowing students to cultivate their key transferable skills (communication, teamwork, resilience, creativity, determination and self-efficacy to name a few) for higher education and meet their future needs in a rapidly changing world.
The pedigree of the athletic programme in respect to links with the ISST and other international competitions stood out for me in speaking with the senior staff at the school and I look forward to having our programme provide relevant challenging activities and competition for our community.
I feel there is a willingness from the school to be frontrunners in the International school sector and leading the athletic department as a key component of this ambition is very exciting to me.

What are your plans for the St. John’s athletic programme?
In the short term, I will be assessing the position of the Athletic programme in relation to the needs of students, aims of our school and trends within the International Schools’ sector. I also want to swiftly evaluate our delivery and the competitive opportunities afforded to our individuals and teams. This short-term work will allow me to put together a strategic plan ensuring our identity, objectives, methods and development pathways are understood by the St. John’s community.
I want our athletic programme to be looked at as best practice that allows our students, staff and parents to have memorable and meaningful learning experiences for their personal development. I believe this, in turn, will lead to strong performances and success on the sports pitches and in the arenas.
I am keen to work with many different partners and providers that share a similar outlook to athletic development and that can add value and standing to the athletic department and school as a whole.
I look forward to developing the programme so that it best meets the needs of our students whilst complementing the objectives of our school and works in relation to advances in the school sector.

The emphasis on sport, physical activity and art are important to me as key pillars of development.

How can students and parents help to achieve your goals?
Students and parents can help by showing passion for their own learning journeys and success in athletics as well as demonstrating a strong commitment to a team ethos where support, understanding and appropriate challenge will be prevalent.
Receiving informed feedback will play an important role as I settle into the role and I look forward to working with those students and parents that have an open mind and enthusiasm to accept and overcome challenges as they present themselves.