Time to catch up

Some of you may have recognised a familiar face at the club around the Christmas period.

Josh Snook, returning from his scholarship in the USA for a well deserved Christmas break, had been given a strict training regime to adhere to from his University in Dakota and frequently trained at the Yate track during his time back in the UK.

Also while he was here, he made an appearance at our annual Club Awards Night, picking up a nomination for Senior Male Athlete (picture, right).

We thought it would be good to catch up with him to see how things are going…


Josh first got in to athletics at a Quadkids level.

In 2011 he then started competing for Yate as an U13, where he saw himself as a bit of a utility athlete, covering empty spots in the team.  Indeed, a cursory glance at his Power of 10 profile shows either his modesty or memory didn’t allow him to say he did 100, 200, 600, 800, 1500, hurdles, LJ, SP and JT that year!

Josh then drifted out of the sport for a few years, not competing at all in the Olympic year, only competing once in 2013 and three times in 2014.  Talking about this time he says “I did a Sports Day 400m and ran what would have been the leading time for the 400m in the South West!”.

It was this self evaluation that probably bought him back to the sport and in 2015 he returned in style, qualifying for the English Schools Championships, where he made it through to the Inter Boys 400m semi-finals.

He would have to wait until 2017 until he next competed at the English Schools, the moment he cites as his favourite moment in his athletic career (so far).  It was here he finished eighth in the Senior Boys 400m.

Making the move

So, how did a lad from Bristol end up in Dakota, USA?

Academically, Josh says he is quite well rounded in all his subjects and that has helped him.  He explains that the higher your grades, the higher the volume of recruiting will be.  He says that the SAT/ACT test that is required before any move happens is key.

Josh is studying accounting. This is typically a four year degree, but he says this can made faster, or slower, depending on the individual and effort throughout the semesters.

Athletically, he thinks most athletes are of a good enough standard to get a scholarship, saying “its just how much money the university think your level is worth”.

Josh recalls he looked at the potential of doing a scholarship in the States for many years, but didn’t really believe this was something he could realistically do.  That was until he had some interaction with recruitment agencies “the agencies do everything for you and make things very easy”.

In 2019 Josh made the move.  When asked, “Why Dakota”? his reply makes lots of sense “I chose Dakota because they made me feel like I was part of their family.  They spoke to me every day and not just about track, about me as a person.  They showed a great interest in me and this was replicated in the scholarship offer that was provided.

Obviously, all Universities and students are different and any scholarship offer that is provided could vary drastically.  The main concern for most people would be finance.  Josh is fortunate in that he is not currently paying for his degree or living arrangements.

Living in America!

In the relatively short period of just one year, Josh has smashed all of his Personal Best times, bringing his 400m time down by well over 1 second, to 48.37s, enough to rank him the 74th best senior in the UK.

When asked how he has managed to make such incredible gains, Josh says the training regime is very rigorous and the frequency of competition has also helped, stating “by competing every week you are constantly improving and if you have any bad races you have plenty of time to rectify them”

The US indoor season has now begun and fortunately those of us back in the UK are still be able to watch progress using the Power of 10.  Josh says “I have just competed in my first indoor competition and I have opened the season faster than I ever have before (200m)”.  He sees the indoor season as a good way of providing a foundation for the outdoor season where his focus will be geared towards the Nationals and an aspiration to get an “All American” award.

Of course any transition to a foreign country is going to involve lifestyle changes. The extremely cold weather is his most dominating difference, meaning he now spends most of his time training indoors, which takes some getting used to.

As a big Bristol City fan, Josh tries to ‘educate’ his fellow athletes in the game of “soccer”, saying a few of them are starting to warm to his team, something that pleases him.

Finally, we asked Josh how he felt about the news that Yate & District AC have recently joined the National Athletics League and whether he felt as though one day he might return and compete for us.  He says “I’m really pleased Yate are now in the NAL! It is very exciting, especially after the problematic year we had last year.  I hope I can compete for Yate as much as possible.  I think that its a conversation that I need to have with my coaches so we can manage my workload, but there’s nothing better than running for Yate!


Josh says “coming to America was the scariest, but also the best decision he has ever made.

His best bit of advice to anybody else also considering a US athletic Scholarship would be “get the boring stuff out of the way” going on to elaborate he means “do the ACT/SAT test.  Get your English qualifications evaluated and converted to the US equivalent”.  Doing this gives you the freedom to do the more exciting things.  “Talking to Universities about athletics is fun, as its something you care passionately about”.

Josh recommends seeing one of the many companies based in the UK that can help guide you through the process of making the move.

“Recruitment can be stressful”

Josh explains that universities are making big investments in their students and need to be sure they are getting the ‘right’ people.  So be prepared for knockbacks.  Some coaches can be brutally honest with you, but the best thing you can do is take the feedback and work on it.

He emphasises not to also be disheartened by offers from ‘smaller’ schools, claiming a lot of people will aim for the bigger names, but may not be successful with their ambitions.  He says the smaller schools can actually offer the same things and there may in fact be benefits in going to the smaller schools, due to the smaller class sizes.

“Just ask”

If there are any club members considering the possibilities of a US scholarship and would like a bit more information, Josh has very kindly provided his email and invited questions.