Heidi Elliott is a triathlete, coach and official from Leicestershire who was named one of the Triathlon England Key Workers of the Year for her work as a primary school teacher throughout the pandemic.
“I knew before and during university that I wanted to teach having taught swimming from age 16 as a part-time job,” Heidi said. “I went to Loughborough University to study Sports Science with the intention of staying on to do a PGCE to teach PE.
“In my final year, I realised I needed a break from education and that I really wanted to work with younger children and have the challenge of teaching a variety of subjects rather than just PE.”
After she graduated, Heidi spent a few years working in fitness and recruitment before taking the chance to complete her teacher training and qualifying as a primary school teacher.
Away from the classroom, Heidi is a coach at Charnwood Triathlon Club where she coaches the juniors, member of Speedhub Triathlon Club and is a Regional Technical Official having initially got into the sport as a participant in a challenge with her husband and their friends.
“Robin, my husband, decided he was entering a triathlon in 2012 as a challenge against his two university friends,” she added.
“The idea was that the wives would make up a relay team to race them, but the team didn't happen for various reasons so I decided I'd go alone against the boys. That was the start of a slippery slope.”
Since then, Heidi and her husband have taken on numerous events including, in 2016, where they went head-to-head at the Outlaw Triathlon in Nottingham with Robin taking the victory but waiting for Heidi so they could cross the line together.
Having been a teacher for 15 years, Covid-19 has seen the school and the way Heidi teaches change considerably to allow teaching to continue.
“Teaching has changed so much over the last year,” Heidi commented. “In lockdown one we worked on a rota basis with around 20 children and we worked over the Easter holidays and working in a school on Good Friday was a shock.
“Since September, school has looked different: lots of handwashing, children all facing forwards in the classroom, no singing and sticking in our year group bubbles. As PE leader, it’s meant I've missed the various sports competitions too.”
With England entering its third national lockdown in January, Heidi and her colleagues have been balancing teaching children both in school and at home.
“The current lockdown has seen around seven times more pupils in than last year,” she added. “We're essentially doing two jobs at the same time, teaching in school and planning and recording video lessons for those children at home.
“We’re also having a daily live meet-up where in-school and at-home pupils get to mix virtually.”
Alongside teaching, Heidi’s triathlon life has continued, with her completing her Level 2 Triathlon Coaching Diploma and making time to coach and train.
“It gave me a real focus and something different to think about whilst at home,” she said about completing the diploma. “It was a good stress reliever from school life too.
“We got the juniors back training as soon as we could having completed all the relevant Covid paperwork and risk assessments. It’s been fun challenging myself to find ways to keep them training whilst maintaining the relevant safety and space.
“This time around, with work being more stressful than ever before, my training is really becoming my 'me' space where I just chill and listen to loud, joyful music and get away from it all.”
If you’re a key worker within the triathlon community and would like to share your story, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.