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Members tell us their coaching highlights of the year as we toast the first anniversary of ConnectedCoaches

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Wendy Russell

Wendy Russell proudly shows off her Disability Coach of the Year Award at the 2015 UK Coaching Awards

A community is all about the people in it. In the second of our birthday celebration features, you tell us what has given you the greatest satisfaction over the last 12 months, as you review your personal achievements and reveal the close bonds you have formed with your athletes, whose performances and big strides in development have made you beam with pride.

‘What have you done today to make you feel proud?’ 

The distinctive warm vocal tones of Heather Small, singing the catchy chorus to M People’s feel-good anthem ‘Proud’, has been knocking around in my head for the last 10 minutes. 

The uplifting melody and inspiring lyrics persuaded the organising committee of the London 2012 Olympic bid to adopt the song as their official theme tune. 

And it popped into my mind as soon as I began reading through members’ coaching highlights as part of this special feature to mark our first anniversary.

You have indeed done yourselves proud over the last 12 months, and as I become immersed in these coaching recollections and flashbacks to members’ personal highs, played out to the internal soundtrack of soul singer Heather in full voice, there was a definite lump developing in my throat. 

I was lucky enough to speak to Sport England’s Head of Coaching, Stuart Armstrong, recently about the important role of a coach. ‘Never underestimate the positive impact you can have on people’s lives’ was the gist of the conversation. 

He eulogised the importance of good coaches at this year’s UK Coaching Summit too, praising their ‘courage, skills and bravery’ and calling them ‘heroes’. 

The growing ConnectedCoaches community is awash with heroes. Which is the reason we opted for the slogan UK Community for Sport’s Unsung Heroes and Heroines. 

A community is, by definition, a social unit that shares common interests or attributes. A strong community engenders fellowship among its members. 

Your community is getting stronger by the day, and we are proud of your achievements and the fantastic effort you put in as leaders within your own home-town communities. 

So without further ado, cue the music, as we fast-forward to the highlights package of some of our members as they reveal what made them so proud to be a coach during the time frame of our inaugural year. 

Andy Edwards

I have recently completed the FA Youth Award, which I am proud of, but that isn’t my coaching highlight of the last year. Before my assessment, I was looking back at my notes from the Module 1 course and was reminded of my answer to the question ‘What does success mean to you as a (grass-roots) football coach?’ My answer was, and remains, ‘success is kids coming back next week, next month, next year’. So I was delighted to find out recently that all 18 of the current under-15s that I coach will be continuing next season (after a season of playing 20 matches, only winning twice, finishing bottom of the league and being relegated). 

Blogs Andy has featured in that might interest you:

Richard Allen

My highlight was when a player who I was coaching had been working on scooping the ball over the keeper for weeks. Seeing him try it in a game and score probably the best goal I’ve ever witnessed from a player I’ve coached was absolutely spectacular. It was stunning, and it was a nice outcome to all the learning – the tried and failed attempts – that had occurred in previous weeks.

Blogs Richard has featured in or written that might interest you:

 

Wendy Russell

The last 12 months have been a whirlwind of some exceptional highs and great personal achievements. I didn’t think that, two years ago, I would be coaching deaf children, even though I have a hearing impairment. I just thought it would be a great idea if a deaf and hard of hearing junior group could come and enjoy hockey, with no barriers. Every time a ‘challenge’ presented itself, it just made me want to overcome it even more. While the awards are fantastic – and I thank those who nominated me and the governing bodies for honouring me – the biggest highlight is that it has given me a platform to enable disability, and specifically deaf awareness, within sport to be celebrated, and to educate others. It has also allowed me to highlight areas where we can do more, to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to take part in sport or get active.

Wendy Russell 2

Wendy walks to the stage to pick up her Disability Coach of the Year Award at the 2015 UK Coaching Awards

Blogs Wendy has featured in or written that might interest you:

 

Luke Thorpe

My coaching highlight of this year is the amount of self-development I have undergone as a coach. I have met with numerous coaches to discuss player development and the discipline of coaching, including coaches at US universities and professional football academies here in the UK. I have been proactive online and have learnt much more by joining ConnectedCoaches and being a lot more active on Twitter. I was also lucky enough to go to an FA CPD event that was hosted by Dick Bate. Listening to a coaching legend share his knowledge and seeing him coach was truly inspiring. Finally, I accepted a new full-time role in coaching so, all in all, it has been a good year!

Simon Browning

For me, my coaching highlight of this past year isn’t a win, but rather it is found in the wider areas that help form part of the overall success. In March, taking a group of women to a tournament, after only a few weeks of training, and watching them compete against both established male and mixed teams was truly amazing. The scoreboard didn’t make pretty reading, but seeing their faces when they scored their first ever touchdown and their realisation that they could really do this was very special. This event served as a catalyst for development and has given the team a ‘no fear’ attitude. We have gone on to play against one of the top male flag teams in the UK, and send seven players to the national tackle format trials.

Blogs Simon has written that might interest you:

Emma Tomlinson

Having the opportunity to work with disabled athletics has been a steep learning curve for me but a particular highlight, as I have spent seven years working with non-disabled athletes and knew nothing about disability athletics. Never in a million years did I think I would one day be coaching disability athletics. A big thank you to England Athletics throws coach Phil Peat for giving me the opportunity to work with him. I love every minute of coaching and hope to continue for many more years, and hopefully get my own children involved in coaching in the future.

Emma Tomlinson

Blogs Emma has featured in that might interest you:

 

Matte Hart

My coaching highlight over the past year has been seeing my gymnast of 11 years Sam Clarke make selection for the GB team for this year’s TeamGym European Championships after coming back from a broken femur. He broke his leg at the 2015 TeamGym British Championships in front of teammates, judges and a full audience in the competition arena. He underwent surgery and faced a long road to recovery. We took it one step at a time, and had to rebuild strength and mobility before being able to gain back skills and confidence. The selection event for the European Championships was exactly nine months after his accident, and 16-year-old Sam competed full routines to the heartfelt congratulations of his peers and coaches. He was thrilled to be selected following on from that. It has been my highlight because I know how much it means to him, and I have been with him on his road to recovery, keeping him focused and motivated along the way. I’ve been so impressed by his strength of character and determination, and it has been a privilege to be a part of his journey towards representing Great Britain for the first time.

Matte Hart

Matte, right, with protege Sam, who fought back from adversity with such 'determination and strength of character'

Blogs Matte has featured in or written that might interest you:


Dannielle Starkie

My coaching highlight over the past year is not a major stand-out victory, simply the pleasure of seeing my little athletes achieve their own small victories. Many have gained new jumps, perfected a spin or simply found a better way of training to make the most of their time on the ice. Seeing them progress in sport but also in life, at a speed that is suitable to their needs, makes me proud of the coaching I provide and reassures me that I am doing an OK job.

Blogs Dannielle has featured in that might interest you:

 

Kate Offord

Since August 2015, I have seen a lot of exciting changes in my coaching journey. In September, I started the role as Acting Head Coach of Manchester Tri Club and, in January, took over the role officially. I have worked hard to be a visible and approachable head coach. We have 500 members, and there are very few that I do not know by name. I have worked with our coaches to fine-tune our annual training plans and have made changes to the way we work with our juniors. I have tried to put team spirit and communication at the heart of club life, letting new athletes know the achievements of our performance athletes, and letting our top performers see the effort and achievements of those coming through. I think this has helped us to raise our game in terms of training and racing as a team. My coaching highlight has been completing my British Triathlon Federation Level 3 Certificate. I started the journey in September 2015, and along the way, I learnt a lot about my strengths and weaknesses. I was lucky to have an amazing group of tutors and course-mates who educated me in a range of different styles, attitudes and opinions. On completing my course in May 2016, I have continued to challenge my coaching, taking on individual athletes with specific goals. I was delighted to help three athletes get massive marathon PBs and a good for age time, and I am proud that several of my triathletes have gained age-group wins and podiums, which would not have been possible if they had not committed so fully to both me and the training I proposed. 

Kate Offord

A blog Kate has featured in that might interest you:

 

Brett Holland

This year has been a monumental year where I’ve made choices to make coaching my career. Coupled with this, I have looked at improving and optimising all that I do. At the end of the day, I am my ‘product’, and we all know good products sell! Off the back of this, I’ve had many highs, and being asked to coach an England team at the School Games is a pinnacle for me in terms of performance. Seeing my junior boys at school develop each week, try new things and thoroughly enjoy hockey has also been a personal triumph. 

Brett Holland

A blog Brett has featured in that might interest you:

Elly Moore

Wow, what a season of coaching for me. My highlights and proud moments have run throughout the season, starting in August 2015 when I moved to a new netball club after a year out of club coaching. I’m proud to be part of the coaching team at Eagles, proud of the influence my coaching and coaching style has had throughout the club and proud of the players. We celebrated at our awards evening on 11 June: maintaining a place in Division 1 of the Regional League (even though we had to cover not one, not two, not three, but four pregnancies, plus a broken foot); gaining a promotion from Division 3 to Division 2; winning the Regional Under-16 League and finishing seventh in England in the National Under-16 Finals; winning the Regional Under-14 League and finishing third in England in the National Under-14 Finals; being unbeaten in the Regional Under-13 League; and a huge amount of success locally for the under-12s and Under-11s. In September, I was delighted to receive an invitation to participate in the mentoring training provided by the European SCORE Project and supported by sports coach UK (Strengthening Coaching with the Objective to Raise Equality) and am very excited to have completed the training and qualified as a coach mentor recently (May 2016).

A blog Elly has featured in that might interest you:

 

Sara Hilton

My coaching highlight this year was coaching the Wales under-15s and 16s in the annual Bob Doherty tournament in Newport, which was my first time coaching at a national level.

Blogs Sara has featured in that might interest you:

 

Gary Fowler

Our Institute FC under-17 team closed out their youth football careers with a trip to the inaugural Grassroots International Youth Football Festival in Edinburgh, where we finished runners-up in a very strong competition. The team’s behaviour, attitude and work ethic made me extremely proud of how they have developed as young men over the five years I have been working with them. Over the two Saturday games, they produced a quality of football, teamwork and unselfishness that we have been working at for a long time. On Sunday, we faced two of the strongest teams in Scotland at this age group and defeated Hamilton on penalties after securing a 2-2 draw with the last kick of the game. This match represented so much of what we are about. At 2-1 down, there was a mentality of ‘we can get back in this’, and every single player played their part to secure the late equaliser in the semi-final. Our goalkeeper got his reward for his dedication to improve these last few seasons by saving three penalties. What we have achieved together has made me so happy and proud. 

Blogs Gary has featured in that might interest you:

 

Andrew Beaven

For me, it’s been a year of ‘incremental gains’ rather than breakthroughs. The things I have taken the most pleasure from are seeing the players develop. One hit a ton, followed by 94 the following week; another hit her first boundary in senior cricket (and has got the taste for more now); several of the under-5s and under-7s have leapt forward in the last month; and a couple of the uncoordinated under-9s have even worked out their left and right feet!

Blogs Andrew has featured in that might interest you:

 

Richard Cheetham

Any initiative to support and develop coaches has to be celebrated, and the ConnectedCoaches programme has been an invaluable and innovative addition. It has been a chance to share ideas, highlight useful resources and discuss key areas in sports coaching. In addition, my professional development has been supported by providing a platform for the work I am involved with. My highlight of the year has to be the positive feedback received from the creativity and coaching blog that was posted and the accompanying videos, which used ideas developed by my undergraduates at the university. A huge thank you for everyone involved in this.

Blogs Richard has featured in or written that might interest you:

 

What have been your coaching highlights of the last 12 months? Please share them below.

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Comments (3)

   
pippaglen
Thank you to connected coaches for being on the other end of the computer screen. I have received great advice and support from many coaches over the past year. Hope to see more coaches take advantage of the site. It doesn't matter if your a new coach or have been coaching for years I'm sure there is relevant information or advice on the site for you.

Happy 1st Birthday to connected coaches. 🎂🎉🎆 and a big thank you those who started the venture "you know who you are 😋"
16/08/16
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Deborah
Congratulations to all the coaches mentioned above. It certainly looks like they have had a successful and rewarding year. For my part, I was unbelievable honoured to be awarded England Athletics National Coach of the Year 2015 at their Annual Awards.
17/08/16
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robertkmaaye
Congrats again Deborah! Just so you’re aware we’ve recognised your accomplishment in an infographic on this other 'celebration' article https://www.connectedcoaches.org/spaces/10/welcome-and-general/blog/Blake/295/happy-birthday-to-us-celebrating-one-year-of-connectedcoaches
17/08/16
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Deborah
Thank you Rob. I clicked on the link above but couldn't spot it. Could be me of course!
18/08/16
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robertkmaaye
Haha no worries Deborah. If you check out the infographic image at the end of the above article you're in the bottom left hand corner :)
18/08/16
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