'My time as a student at Radboud University started in 2018. I was still playing volleyball at a high level back then and had just started training at Papendal. Studying at Radboud University was therefore the obvious choice, as it was the closest. And guidance was offered to students like me who wanted to combine their studies with being a top athlete. In the morning, I could attend my lectures, and in the afternoon I trained at Papendal.'
'I maintained that rhythm for two years until I made the switch to beach volleyball. For that I had to go to The Hague, which meant it suddenly took me three hours to get to Nijmegen. This was around the time covid started. There were not many advantages to the pandemic, but it did mean I could finish the last year of my bachelor's degree online. After that, I also wanted to do a master's. The most obvious thing was to find a university near The Hague, but the guidance I received during my bachelor was so great that I chose to do my master's in Nijmegen as well.'
Writing a thesis on a plane
'Just after I started my master's, my sports career began taking off. I was increasingly training abroad for longer periods at a time and embarking on a full-time trajectory towards the Paris Olympics. While the university was fully committed to the return of physical education, it was pretty much impossible for me to attend all my lectures and working groups. Most lecturers helped me find a way to attend their classes online. But some did not understand my situation. They said: 'You are an athlete or a student, make a choice.' In that case, I could always come to a solution together with my coordinator from the top sports regulation.'
'Especially the last few weeks of my master's were very challenging. I wrote my thesis in trains, planes and hotels, and meanwhile I came in second at the European beach volleyball championships in Vienna. It was hard work, but thanks in part to all the help I received from the university, I managed to graduate. I couldn't have wished for better guidance, and for that I am incredibly grateful.'
Want to know more about Leon's experience with Radboud University's top sports scheme? Send him a message and he will be happy to help you with your question.