Joshua Greaves in front of the University of Notitngham Sport logo

November 18, 2021, by brzbs1

Scholar In Focus: Joshua Greaves

Ahead of this Sunday’s first home game for the University of Nottingham American Football team, we spoke with quarterback and sport scholar, Joshua Greaves. Joshua arrived at the University from his home state of California this January, and it was fantastic to sit down with him to discuss how he’s finding life at university in a new country, as well as how he and the team have started the season going into this weekends home game against the University of Leeds.

It’s great to meet you Josh. Would you be able to tell us a bit about yourself as a sports scholar here at the University of Nottingham?

Absolutely, my name is Joshua Greaves and I am originally from Los Angeles, California. I’m a post-graduate student studying a Masters in International Business. I also play quarterback for the University of Nottingham American Football team. I’ve played American Football for the last sixteen years (pretty much my whole life!), and before coming to Nottingham I went to a school called Occidental College, which is a small liberal arts school in Los Angeles where I was a three-year starting quarterback.

Nottingham is slightly different to Los Angeles! What was it about the University of Nottingham that made you want to come here for a sports scholarship to carry on your education and playing football?

When I was a first year at my previous school, I had two friends who were in their last year of school in the US and they decided to come here to the University of Nottingham. They ended up doing a similar course to what I am now, as well as playing football, and they had a great time. They told me that they had an unbelievable experience and that they loved the university, the academic standard, and of course the great football programme. I’m so happy that I listened to them and decided to get in touch with the Scholarship and Recruitment Manager here in Phil Wood, as well as the American Football Head Coach Jason Scott. From there, my mind was made up to come half-way around the world to study and play here, and it’s been a great decision.

You say it’s been a great decision, how have you found the university so far and has it been what you expected?

I arrived here in January on the day that the second lockdown came into effect, so in my first couple of months I was really focussing on my academic work as there wasn’t any sport happening at the time. However, once restrictions started to be lifted it was so cool to finally meet my teammates and train out on the 3G pitch as well as in the High Performance Zone. Our pre-season started in September with our games starting in October, so it’s been two months of football where I’ve managed to get into the groove of things, become closer with my teammates and it’s been an amazing experience.

As you say, you’ve had your first couple of games for the university. How have they gone and is there anything you noticed you and the team need to improve?

So going into the first two games I had a good feeling that we would come out on top, but to be honest I didn’t think that we would win by this much! Knowing how good the programmes at Durham and Stirling have been over the years, I knew they would be tough matchups but offensively we came out really strong thanks to all the training we put in on the field over the last couple of months. Defensively the team have also performed really well, and every time we go onto the field it’s clear that the team are buying into the culture of working hard with a great attitude of having fun around their team-mates. As we have continued to grow this culture in training and meetings, it’s really transitioned onto the field on game days. It’s been fantastic to go 2-0 so far and hopefully we’ll get many more wins including this Sunday against Leeds at home which should be a great game.

You mention that you’re playing at home at our David Ross Sports Centre on Sunday, how excited are you for your first experience playing competitively in front of the #GreenandGold?

I’m really excited! I train here three times a week, so to finally be able to have a game day here and play at home will be a great experience. I have a lot of friends here, fellow scholars, course mates, house mates, who want to come down and support us so it will be a fun atmosphere for sure! In terms of expectations for the game, I’d like to think that we will come out on top. Going into each game, we have to look at each opponent the same way and not get too high or too low. I expect a hard-fought match-up and an interesting game but as long as we have a good attitude and continue to put in high amounts of effort, then the scoreboard should take care of itself.

In terms of your experience here so far compared to back home in the states, are there any major differences both in the sporting and academic areas that you’ve noticed?

Yes, I’ve noticed there’s a lot of differences and nuances. Academically in the United States it feels a lot more rigid with assigning work, whereas over here, professors will allow me to work more independently and at my own pace which is something that I enjoy. Back home there is a huge emphasis on sport in schools and coming to Nottingham it’s been so cool to see that sport is also hugely valued here. Having that similar culture around sport at the university has really helped me feel at home here.

So how has our American Football programme helped you settle into life here at the university?

Firstly, I know that in the UK there are eighty universities with American Football programmes, but only two with multiple teams so we have a big club. With over 100 players at the University of Nottingham, it’s brilliant to see us at the forefront of the sport in this country. In terms of the club and my teammates making me feel comfortable, it’s been amazing – I’ve actually never played on a team this big, so it’s really cool! I’m a family-oriented person and being away from my mum and brother at home, so being able to have a brotherhood here has been really important to me. With Thanksgiving coming up it’s going to be special because it’s my favourite holiday, and whilst I can’t be at home, we’re going to have a team dinner to celebrate it. We will watch the NFL too because back home it’s family, football and food on Thanksgiving, and I can’t wait to show them what Thanksgiving means to me. It’s about giving thanks and appreciating what you have. I appreciate what I have back home, but equally I also appreciate what I have here in Nottingham now too.

Back on the field, how would you describe your game as a quarterback? Are you a pocket passer or a an athletic running type of player?

I’m definitely more of a quarterback who stays in the pocket and tries to sit back and pick apart a defence. I think one thing that sets me apart is that I really value watching game film and time spent analysing our performances. For me, if I’m more prepared mentally than the other team then I know that I can with the match-up. I view football as a chess match and I know that whilst I have some athletic limitations compared to others, but I know that my experience and mental understanding of the game will outweigh those limitations. Improving that understanding of the game is something that I’ve incorporated with the rest of the team too by organising more player led film sessions, and those have definitely given us an edge in games.

As the quarterback of the team, have you enjoyed being able to use all of your experience to be a leader and a teacher to others in the team and our wider American Football club?

Absolutely. I think that my expertise has definitely helped us in games so far, but I came here to not only throw touchdowns and win games, but to also help build the culture we have here at the University of Nottingham. I have a saying that if I want to leave a place better than when I found it, which is cliché, but something that I truly believe and that’s my goal here. I like to take time to work with other players one-on-one and my door is always open for my teammates.

What would you say to other American or British American Football players thinking about coming to the University of Nottingham?

I would say that we’re the best here at the University of Nottingham. I believe that we have the best programme, coaches and culture. We have the best facilities with the best location being in the midlands, because you have players from the North and South of the UK here making it a truly close family atmosphere. For me, when I came to Nottingham it was really important to have seventy-plus new best friends which is what I’ve got here.

What are your goals after you leave Nottingham?

My short-term goals are to play professionally in Europe for a year or two. From there my plan is to go back to the states and work on the business side for a sports team, whether it be football, basketball, baseball – that’s my goal.

You’ve really touched upon the closeness of the American Football community here and recently we very sadly lost one of our coaches in Coach ‘Beef’, Stephen Brittle.

Coach Beef was awesome. He was one of my favourite coaches and we were very close. Losing him was very tough on all of us, especially the offensive linemen he coached regularly as their position coach. He was an old-school, hard-nosed coach, and one thing I really appreciated with him was that he told you how it was – he didn’t try to sugar-coat anything and was always to the point. I miss him, he was a great guy and as I’ve come to learn recently, a great family man. We will continue to play the rest of the season for him, which is what he would have wanted and now we have extra incentive to win the championship this year in his honour.

We wish Joshua and the rest of the American Football club all the best for the rest of the season, and we cannot wait to see how they perform at David Ross Sports Village this Sunday!


Joshua Greaves about to throw a pass in practice

As well as a reputation for academic excellence, we have a history of sporting success and are passionate about supporting promising athletes during their time at the University of Nottingham. To find out more about our Sports Scholarships, please click here.

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