This time last year my hockey knowledge could have been written on the back of the proverbial postage stamp.
Twelve months on and I find myself very much looking forward to my second season as Havant Hockey U12 girls manager.
When was the last time you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone and did something that stretched you?
Professionally or personally?
Season 1 was truly transformational for me and without doubt the highlight of my year. The best thing I’ve done for a long long time.
After we moved house and settled into life in a different town my three girls were looking for a new team sport. They had endured football for me as part of Petersfield Juniors but that wasn’t an option in our new place.
Half way through the 2017-2018 season they decided to give hockey a try.
Sunday morning training sessions soon became part of our staple diet. Immediately we were made very welcome by coaches, parents and players alike and despite a distinct lack of skill my three stuck with it.
As the 2018-19 season started my eldest daughter joined the u12 squad. Friday night training began and fixtures were in the diary for the season.
Unfortunately the team were managerless.
Previously I had run the Year 7 and Year 8 football teams at school but thought this time it might be nice to invest some energy in a different direction and for the benefit of my children (some might argue for a change). Instead of arriving home late on a Friday after school, it was my turn to pick up from the child minder, drop number 2 daughter at gymnastics and then get to the pitch for a 6.00 til 7.30pm training session via the grandparents and a drive by for number 1 daughter.
After game 1 was cancelled due to the lack of manager I felt the need to volunteer. Not something that I have focused on very much as part of my #teacher5aday. https://martynreah.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/teacher5aday/ . I wondered what could be so difficult!
The hockey club have a great set up where each team has a coach to help out.
We lucked in with Alex.
In charge of Hockey at a local school he also gave up his Friday evenings and many a Sunday coaching the girls. Every session was different and participation and fun were core to each. My knowledge and understanding (without the need for a knowledge organiser) improved exponentially.
When Alex wasn’t available James would step in. As far as I could tell he gave up every hour he had during the week and at weekends helping any team at the club. From the minis on a Sunday morning at 9.00 am to the women’s firsts in the afternoon without a blink of an eye.
If ever there were two people who needed recognition for their work supporting young people to develop their hockey skills and character then these two are it. Their tireless energy and enthusiasm is inspirational.
And then there were the girls.
A nicer bunch I don’t think I’ve met in 25 yrs of teaching.
They forgave me my lack of experience. One of our first games was a disaster. On my own because of logistical difficulties I had to warm the team up and sort the starting positions for the match.
This was difficult as I was unsure of the numbers of players in a team and the duration of a game!
It didn’t end well but not one complaint was uttered. At least not that I was aware of.
Luckily, with Alex and James’ guidance, my competence improved over the course of the season.
They then forgave me my over enthusiasm and time management skills when trying to rotate subs from a squad of 16.
I was keen to ensure playing time and participation was as equal as possible and although we didn’t win all of our games we finished the season with great numbers at training every Friday and a group of young women who had all developed their skills and abilities.
They also forgave me when I gave them HWK!!
Not knowing much about hockey at the start of the year but enjoying sport I was amazed week by week the girls development. The impact of a great coach was obvious to me.
In rain, hail, snow, sunshine and fireworks the girls gave their best. By the end of the season I felt very proud of their achievements and the great team spirit they had developed.
At the end of a few hard weeks at work they even managed to put a smile on my face. (Something that those who know me well will understand is no mean feat!).
My final thanks must go to the parents. Different from the football crowd and work crowd, they were not keen to share their advice vocally from the touchlines at every opportunity. They, like the girls, were very understanding of my lack of hockey experience. The girls and really appreciated their support throughout the season.
At the end of the season I missed training on a Friday night.
And games on a Sunday.
Even away ones in Salisbury!
I will be forever grateful for all of the laughs we shared and all that I was able to learn. The importance of positive relationships and the value of team sports are key takeaway for me.
At this time of year I would normally be planning #pedagoohampshire our annual teaching and learning conference at Eggar’s. After four years and over a thousand teachers taking part in cpd at our school I’m having a year off. So instead of chasing sponsorship for that event I thought I might try to get some donations for our strip for next season.
It certainly improved my wellbeing last year.
Why don’t you give it a go this year?
Volunteer for something. I know for a fact what you put in you get back in buckets.
Thanks for reading ,
(Havant u12 girls manager)