Introducing our new Director of Sport, Tristan Parris
At the start of September, we welcomed Tristan Parris as Bristol Grammar School’s new Director of Sport. He joined BGS from St Paul’s School, London, having previously taught for 10 years at Millfield School where he was Assistant Director of Sport as well as director of the fencing and modern pentathlon programmes, roles he combined with serving as President of England Fencing.
Prior to that, as a fencing coach he was the England Youth Team Manager and the lead fencing coach for pentathlon Ireland. While working with the Ireland pentathlon team they had two athletes ranked in top three in the world who competed at the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympics – with the opportunity to coach at Rio at notable highlight for Tristan.
We met with him to find out more about what drew him to working at BGS and his ambitions for sport in our school.
What inspired you to take on the role of Director of Sport at BGS?
This is where my journey started – both the city and the school – I owe my career and passion for coaching and leading within sport and youth sport to Bristol and BGS.
I became involved with coaching at BGS Fencing club while a student at Bristol University and it grew to be a full-time job and the foundation for my career. I could not have forgiven myself if I had not applied for the Director of Sport post here and was beyond delighted when I was offered the role – I want to give back to a place so close to my heart and life.
What is your vision for the role of sports in the overall development of pupils at BGS?
My personal vision for sport at BGS is to provide a safe, fun, and inclusive environment to enable all pupils to progress along their own sporting journey.
I have friends around the UK and the world because of sport; the experiences shared through sport create laughter, memories, and friendships for life. Alongside being in ‘the trenches’ with your friends, whether you win or lose, sport teaches important life lessons about robustness, resilience, and determination.
I want everyone who comes through the doors to be as passionate as I am about how much being involved in sport can add to any young person’s development, and to share all those amazing stories and journeys.
What are your short-term and long-term goals for sport at BGS?
My first priority is to consult with the pupils, parents, guardians and staff to create one voice and one vision for sport at BGS, so we all know why we are doing sport, what we believe about sport and then ensuring that we celebrate all those journeys, stories and successes.
How do you plan to promote inclusivity and ensure that all students have opportunities to participate in sports, regardless of their skill level?
I’ve been incredibly impressed by the numbers of pupils who take part in sport at BGS – already nearly 700 pupils have been on SOCS team sheets for the school in September alone – but we can always try to do even better. To do this, we’ll be looking at our sport mix and how we can improve, develop and, if needed, augment what we offer to ensure as many as possible can represent BGS.
How will you communicate with parents/guardians and keep them informed about their child's involvement in sports?
I am keen to improve on all areas of communications with pupils and families. We are already looking at how to improve our operational comms so that we can all keep up to date with late buses and know how we will be notified of any changes to any sessions. More importantly we will aim to communicate and celebrate successes of all pupils, at all levels, in some way and I will reach out to the student body, as well as the staff, to consider how we best do this.
We will also aim to provide opportunities for parents and guardians to learn more about how they can best support their children on their sporting journeys, to make sport a positive experience for pupils and parents alike. We know sometimes being pitch side can be stressful, but sport offers a great opportunity for us to develop even closer ties with our children. Providing advice to families about ‘off-pitch’ areas such as nutrition, rest and recovery is also something I’d like us to do more of.
How can parents/guardians share their thoughts or suggestions regarding sports programs and activities with you?
I am currently developing surveys for parents, pupils and staff that will go out this term, so everyone will have the opportunity to share their views. If you want to get in touch about something that isn’t covered on the survey, you can always drop me an email (email@example.com).
I also aim to be at Failand for as many Saturdays as possible, watching as many teams as possible, so please do come and say hello – I’m looking forward to getting to know lots more members of the BGS family.