For Portobello tutor and Kildare native, Orla King, sport had long been a passion before going to study PE and Chemistry at university. Growing up she played camogie, Gaelic football, some rugby, and even Taekwondo.
She qualified with a degree in PE and chemistry that then saw her go into the classroom as a secondary school teacher. The majority of her teaching career has been spent in Donabate in North Co. Dublin, where she is based.
After developing an interest in the area, Orla actually came to Portobello as a student in 2017 to undertake the BSc in Sports Therapy. Since obtaining her degree, she has gone on to work pitch side for teams in all codes of GAA, as well as soccer and rugby and, most recently, with an American football team here in Ireland.
It was during her time studying at Portobello that she was able to enter another avenue of teaching.
“While I was doing my degree, the PE course started, and I had an opportunity to start working in Portobello on that. It gave me the opportunity to work at third level.
“I was completing my degree when the course was starting. As I was qualified in the area, I had the opportunity to take on a few tutor hours. I’ve been mostly part-time in my work with Portobello because I had only the two modules to start off with.
“At the moment, because I’m back full-time teaching during the week, I just work part-time with PE Cert students on the anatomy and physiology module,” she said.
As if her plate wasn’t full enough, Orla has gone on to further study and is in the middle of doing a master’s degree in performance coaching.
While she is almost constantly busy, Orla really enjoys the work she does, something she says helps to no end.
“It actually works out perfect for me. My full-time teaching is during school hours. Most of my work with teams is in the evening or at the weekend.
“I certainly wouldn’t be able to have a clinic set up as such as it wouldn’t fit in with the hours that I have.
“I’m really enjoying the pitch side work. It’s a great opportunity.
“Absolutely it helps to love what you do. That would definitely be the point to make. It is busy but it is extremely enjoyable. I like having both the teaching and then something different to do in the evenings,” she said.
Working with both second and third-level students has enhanced her teaching for both groups, Orla says.
“At the moment I’m involved in the anatomy and physiology course and trying to relate it to the PE teaching is more centred around the Leaving Cert and what’s required at that level for anatomy and physiology. When I was teaching the PE modules, the experience I had gained from my 14 or 15 years of teaching, at that stage, really helped to inform my delivery of those modules as well.
“When I was a student at Portobello, one of the things that I found most useful from my tutors was that they were working in the areas that they were teaching us. When we were doing our therapy modules, as a learner I found it most useful when someone was able to give me an example of when they encountered a particular thing, rather than just doing the theoretical side of what you could do. Somebody telling you that this has happened to them is brilliant. I find being able to bring in my own experience from my classes myself was something that I found useful,” she said.
Orla has been with Portobello for a couple of years now and really enjoys her work
“I enjoyed the learning opportunity through working with the PE students. Working at that next level and bringing my experience into a setting where my students were learning to do what I do.
“I’m relatively part-time now. I’m completely online. It’s that little bit more distanced learning. I have small groups as well. I think they’re helpful in being able to give extra feedback to individuals.”