With blonde hair and blue eyes, 22-year-old Brittany Coates stands out in the Fijian Women’s Rugby Sevens team.
The Hamilton-born, self-confessed farm girl graduated on April 20, 2016 with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Human Nutrition and Psychology.
She wanted to study something that was a natural fit alongside her sport.
“I decided to do nutrition because I love knowing what I am eating, and being able to fuel my body as an athlete. What you are eating, and your nutrition can also have a psychological side to it as well, so they work in quite nicely together,” she said.
Fiji is a special place to Brittany. Her father was born there, and many of his family remain there. She wants to use her heritage, her studies and her background playing sport to make a difference in people’s lives.
“After spending so much time in Fiji, I can see the Māori and Pacific population in New Zealand are struggling with all the same issues – obesity, diabetes and overall health. I believe targeting children is probably the best audience, to teach them good habits early. I want to get involved in educating children. I have a good understanding of how New Zealanders eat, and the backgrounds these Māori and Pacific children come from with their traditional eating habits,” Brittany said.
She admitted that studying full-time and training for the Sevens was a challenge.
“Training full-time in Fiji, then staying up all night to study when your body just wants to rest and recover was tough. There were so many times I thought ‘I am never going to get this assignment completed’, or ‘I do not know if I can do this’, but I just had a drive in me to keep going. I am just so happy to graduate,” she added.
Brittany said that she could not have completed her studies without the support of her family and Massey staff.
“My parents and my siblings, all my grandparents, really helped me get through. There were so many times where they had to run around after me, and give me the encouragement to keep going. Massey has been so flexible and really supportive of me the whole time. Studying via distance, I never felt like I had to sacrifice sport for my study. It enabled me to do both.”
She hopes to be selected to play for Fiji at the Rio Olympics.
“Competing on the world stage is massive. Coming from Matamata, going to Fiji, then travelling the world was very exciting, and very humbling. All that hard work I had done over the years, trying to study and play sport, was worth it. The chance of going to the Olympics was something I really grabbed on to. I never thought I would be playing for Fiji, but I am so happy and proud to be representing them,” Brittany said.
- Brittany Coates at the Massey University graduation on April 20, 2016
- Brittany Coates Fijian Women’s Rugby Sevens team