Awards recognise coaching success

Pictured back row - Ellie Minto, Anthony Ryan, Ailsa Francis, Steven McKinnel, Anne McKie, Liz Hunter, Martin Grubb; Front row - Liz Scott, Councillor Ros Surtrees, Bob Morgan, Jane Leavey, Charlotte Mathison
Pictured back row - Ellie Minto, Anthony Ryan, Ailsa Francis, Steven McKinnel, Anne McKie, Liz Hunter, Martin Grubb; Front row - Liz Scott, Councillor Ros Surtrees, Bob Morgan, Jane Leavey, Charlotte Mathison

The Dumfries and Galloway Coaching Awards provide the opportunity to reward coaches for their dedication to their chosen sport and recognise their achievements.

The aim of the awards is to celebrate and raise the profile of the fantastic work being done within Dumfries and Galloway and this year a Douglas Ewart High teacher was among the winners.

Councillor Ros Surtrees and Ailsa Francis.

Councillor Ros Surtrees and Ailsa Francis.

The sporting community across Dumfries and Galloway including Sport Council’s and Clubs were asked to promote the awards.

Subsequently, the awards attracted a good number and standard of nominations from across Dumfries and Galloway and provided the panel of judges with some real debate when selecting winners.

Attending the awards ceremony last week, Vice Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Children, Young People and Lifelong Learning Committee, Councillor Ros Surtees said, “These awards show what committed coaches and volunteers we are fortunate to have within Dumfries and Galloway and help to raise their profile showing how valuable they are to clubs, schools and sport in our area. I would like to personally congratulate all the winners on their achievements.”

This year there are 10 Coaching Award winners and all regional award winners have been automatically entered into the sportscotland Coaching, Officiating and Volunteering Awards 2017 with a further chance for entry into the UK coaching awards later in the year, and we wish all the winners good luck in that process. Each award winner is detailed below with a short description of their achievements.

Young Persons’ Coach of the Year: Ailsa Francis

Nominated by a current pupil, Mrs Francis has been developing the Douglas Ewart High School Netball teams over the past three years creating teams for all age groups in the school and runs the coaching sessions for S1-2 and S3-6 over 2 nights which sees a regular turn out of over 40 girls a week.

Since starting to coach the netball teams Mrs Francis has increased the numbers of participant’s significantly, now allowing the school to place 5 teams in local competitions. Mrs Francis has also taken 2 teams to national level competitions where both teams achieved significant success. Through her hard work and encouragement Mrs Francis has created a fantastic enthusiasm for netball throughout the school where the team members are proud to represent the school and the sport of netball. This is evident through the team members wearing their netball school jumpers through the school week.

Mrs Francis has brought pleasure and enjoyment to all through her participation in the school netball team. Her coaching sessions each week are exceptionally well run where she plans and executes new drills to develop the skills of all age groups. The variety of drills and exercises keep us all engaged and enthusiastic whilst she clearly supports and encourages players at all levels. This is illustrated through the retention of players throughout the year as well as the development of several players to achieve regional recognition.

Mrs Francis has been very encouraging of pupils who have felt anxious about participating and has quietly and supportively helped them feel their worth and importance within the team. Mrs Francis also organised an end of year netball presentation lunch where the team could celebrate the successes from the year. This nomination has been done to show Mrs Francis how much she is appreciated by all the girls with all her support and hard work she has shown them and how much the girls from within the teams all value her.

Young Coach of the Year: Ellie Minto

Over the last year Ellie has taken on a number of roles. In 2016, she became the lead DCI coach for Dumfries Amateur Swimming Club in charge of coaching three squads the Junior Youth Squad, Youth Squad and the Masters swimmers - coaching each squad for 3-4 sessions every week.

The Youth and Junior Youth Squads cater for Under 18 swimmers who have left full time competitive swimming, but still want to continue to train regularly and compete occasionally at a more relaxed level. The Masters squad is for over 18 years experienced swimmers so that they can continue to train and compete at their level.

Ellie also single hand-edly took on the role of Lead Coach at Stewartry Seals Amateur Swimming Club, progressing it from participation to a competitive club. Ellie coaches all squads at Stewartry Seals.

Ellie’s coaching career and confidence have gone from strength to strength. She has developed her coaching skills by becoming Level 2 qualified, continually seeking mentorship and taking on new challenges.

Her work with the Junior Youth and Youth squads at Dumfries has been outstanding. Previously, these squads were viewed as the squads for ‘failed’ swimmers. Ellie has turned this impression around with positive coaching, so that her swimmers feel valued, enjoy their swimming more and become proud of their achievements. As a result, the numbers of swimmers joining these squads has increased as have swimmer retention rates.

Ellie greatest achievement has been rebuilding Stewartry Seals, where she has taken ownership of the swimmers and transformed their training programme from participative to competitive. Ellie has also worked hard to ensure that the new branding of the club had ‘buy in’ from all parties, so that the swimmers would want to wear the kit and their parents would want to buy it. Now that the club is affiliated to Scottish Swimming, her swimmers will be eligible to compete all over Scotland.

Young Volunteer of the Year [under 25]: Charlotte Mathison

Charlotte coached the girl’s netball team at Lincluden Primary school for the whole of the academic year with 12 girls regularly attending the club. She has brought the team on throughout the year demonstrating her leadership qualities with the team and developing them as a team unit taking part in league matches and at the Festival.

Charlotte coached the St Teresa’s Primary school team getting them to a standard where they could enter the development netball festival.

Charlotte has ably supported the Nithsdale Netball League this year umpiring on a weekly basis between March to May and umpired at the Netball Festival.

Charlotte showed great patience and skill whilst being involved with the Learning Units at both Lochside and Lincluden and is keen to continue to develop her skills to work within disability sport.

Charlotte is the eldest of 4 children and is very hands on at home. She ensures that she manages time to volunteer in her local community on top of family life, college commitments and playing for Dumfries Blue’s, to give local primary children the opportunity to be active. Charlotte is very keen to be involved with the Active Schools team and is very willing to volunteer her time to assist at events and holiday activities too.

Charlotte is keen to develop her skills and sporting qualifications so she can deliver more clubs in the future.

Volunteer of the Year [over 25]: Steven McKinnell

Steven has been nominated for this award due to his drive and enthusiasm. Steven works full time as an electrician is a father to 3 young children and still he manages to find time to coach voluntarily every day of the week, regularly giving over 20 hours a week of his time.

Steven currently coaches at Annan Academy and Gretna Primary School in preparation for the Schools Gymnastics competition, Eastriggs Gymnastics Club, Dumfries Y Gymnastics as well as coaching at Annan Athletic Football Club.

Steven gives all his athletes words of encouragement and is always on hand to give the same support to parents. His dedication and commitment to sport is very humbling.

Steven has contributed to the improved confidence, skills and technique in all the young people he coaches and has gained their trust, respect and manages to get the best out of each child allowing them to achieve their goals and reach their potential and thrives on seeing a child develop their skills no matter what ability.

The teams he has coached have always been successful at regional level and with last year’s results at the national schools finals; they are within touching distance of medals at a national level. Steven has set himself the goal of achieving medals at the schools national competition. It is no exaggeration to say that without him, there would be no gymnastics at Annan Academy.

With the support of the Active Schools and Community Sport Team in his area, schools are in demand for his time and because of the amount of gymnasts wanting to take part he has decided to adjust his working hours so he can do more hours coaching to help give the kids an opportunity to participate in gymnastics.

Dumfries Y gymnastic club has recently been granted permission to open a fully functioning purpose built gymnastics centre within the next few months and again Steven is looking to give as much time as possible to help making the club and the gymnasts wanting to participate a success and is more than willing to put more hours into making it happen.

Disability Coach of the Year: Anne McKie

Anne for just over 3 years now has voluntarily given up much of her free time to coach wheelchair racing for the Dumfries and Galloway Track Athletics Club. Not only is Anne a coach, but she is a full-time mother and carer for her son who has Cerebral Palsy. Anne stretches herself thin to give the best possible coaching to help all athletes develop. She brings positivity to every training session she instructs, by simply getting involved with chats and discussions. Anne has the respect from everyone at the club, coaches and athletes a-like.

Anne also understands the difficulties, differences, strengths and weaknesses of every individual athlete and accommodates for that. Anne bought a bus out of her own pocket for the club. A bus which is equipped with a lift at the back to help athletes and coaches get to the club which without wouldn’t be able to join in. She does all of this out of her own pocket, she got the bus all fixed up, got the club’s logo put onto the bus, even the expenses for the bus, she does it all herself. She does this so that everyone can get the chance to come along and train, so that no one can miss out on their chance of becoming the next wheelchair racing great!

Anne has grown as a coach over the years working alongside another Coach at the club she has learned a lot. At the start she was very timid and shy, but she has grown into a confident coach who will happily carry on with the laughs and jokes of the club, but when something needs to be done she will always be there offering any kind of help that is humanly possible. Through working with the other coaches of the club she can now take full control over an entire training session. She has done this many times and given many tough and challenging sessions.

Community Coach of the Year: Liz Hunter

Liz delivers weekly sessions at Dumfries Blues Netball Club to a wide range of age groups from secondary aged students to senior ladies twice a week. Within these she delivers a variety of sessions including netball development sessions, competitive team training and bounce back to netball participation sessions for retired players and those who wish to get back involved in Netball or lead an active lifestyle. Every second week, as well as playing and training herself, she coaches two teams in the Carlisle ladies league. This year she will also be developing an U14 team to compete in the newly established league in Carlisle.

Alongside her club coaching, she also coaches in a number of schools in the Stewartry Area.

Liz is also a key member of the Regional Schools’ Netball Association where she continually develops Netball both across the Primary and Secondary domains. Within this role she contributes her time to support Festival Days, Leagues and primary festivals. She also helps co-ordinate and organise the small schools league and tournament in Stewartry and annually helps at Castle Douglas’ Sports Day delivering Netball.

Liz is also a key member of Coaching Staff for the U15 and U17 Regional Netball Teams. This year she will be taking the U15 Regional Squad to various competitions across Scotland, competing in the Netball Scotland District Program. This is the first time Dumfries and Galloway have participated at this level. Liz has been a key driver of Netball for the last 9 years and has contributed to Netball being one of the largest growing activities in Dumfries and Galloway. Her love for working with others, specifically teenage girls who are disengaged in other forms of sporting activity, and passion for the game has had more than a positive impact on the netball community. Her compassionate, honest and keen attitude has not only allowed her players to develop into fantastic netballers but also responsible, respectful and sociable young adults.

Liz is a role model not only for those who she coaches but as an ambassador for Netball and girls activity across Dumfries and Galloway.

Development Coach of the Year: Anthony Ryan

Anthony is Assistant Coach at Dumfries Amateur Swimming Club, and has been covering the Head Coach role since October 2016. He coaches young swimmers age 11-18 years, and supervises the coaching of all 100+ age 8-18 swimmers at Dumfries Amateur Swimming Club. Without Anthony’s commitment and dedication to the swimmers over this period, Dumfries ASC might have struggled to survive. Anthony is directly responsible for coaching two swimming squads - Junior National and National, manages the entire coaching team and mentors our volunteers.

Over the last year, Anthony has continued to run the ‘Swimming Academy’ programme to ensure that there is seamless transition from the Learn to Swim programme to competitive and fitness swimming. In addition he has provided more competitive opportunities for swimmers from other regional clubs by establishing Regional Coaching Sessions – resulting in more D&G swimmers competing at a District and National Level.

This season, Anthony’s swimmers have made a massive impact at a District and National Level producing the highest numbers of D&G National qualifiers and medal winners ever. He has also broadened the range of competitive opportunities to encourage more young D&G swimmers to compete at every level around Scotland.

Performance Coach of the Year: Martin Grubb

Martin coaches the Solway Sharks Ice Hockey team that plays in the National Ice Hockey League (North) Moralee Conference. He is also the Ice Hockey Development Officer for Dumfries and Galloway and as such has an overriding remit for the coaches within Junior, Ladies and Senior Ice Hockey teams in Dumfries.

Martin does this as a full-time role and in addition also coached at international level as Head Coach of the Great Britain Under 20 and Under 18 men last season at world championship tournaments.

Martin has made a significant impact over the last year as he continues to cement Solway’s place as one of the best clubs in the country to develop young talent. The club have had player representation at all junior levels of Scotland and Great Britain teams, with several players who were part of last season’s Solway Sharks team, now signed to professional contracts at club level.

Martin has achieved a great deal in his time at Solway Sharks and the past season has been one of the most successful yet by winning the treble of League, Cup and Play-off trophies with the senior team.

The team only lost twice in the league all season, and achieved all this with by far the youngest squad in the league, proving that Martin’s coaching was a major factor in the success.

By being selected to coach at Great Britain level it also proves he is capable of coaching on an international level.

Martin is extremely knowledgeable about the game and has a great ability to be able to make decisions during games that clearly affect the outcome. Players enjoy playing for him and know that he is able to make improvements in their game to be successful.

Technical Coach of the Year: Liz Scott

Liz is a National Technical Official in Athletics and officiates at National and International Athletics Events.

Liz’s interest in athletics started 25 years ago when her daughter (then aged 9) took up the sport (where she was later double bronze medallist at the world master championships in Australia) and she became involved in helping with officiating at meetings. She now gives her time voluntarily in officiating at top events all over the country even having to buy her uniform since branded advertising kit is not allowed at televised events! Liz has officiated at the London Olympic Games and was chosen to carry the Olympic torch for a leg in Cumbria.

In 2016 Liz officiated at 22 athletics meetings, involving overnight stays and many hours of travel and dedication. This year Liz will have officiated at another 14 UK Athletics Meetings, including the World Para Athletics Championships and the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Bob Morgan

Bob has coached athletics over a 30 plus year period. He has coached athletics including sprinting, middle distance and cross country running. Bob always varies the training program to suit the needs of each individual athlete. He gives each runner a card at the beginning of each season asking them what they intend to compete in, what the athletes aspirations are for the season and finally he wants to know what the athletes dreams are. He also asks athletes to complete a diary of activities they do at school or at home so he can alter the training sessions accordingly. In addition to coaching, Bob is currently the Treasurer for Annan & District Athletic Club and has also carried out this duty for several years.

Bob, a former athlete, has contributed greatly to the local athletics club (ADAC) over the past 30 plus years even coaching several different generations of families during this time. Bob currently coaches 20+ junior middle distance/cross country athletes. He never misses training, even though he does not on occasion keep the best of health, even when the weather is appalling (he is made of stern stuff). If an athlete cannot make one of the 3 training sessions Bob will arrange another day/time suitable to the athlete so they can continue to train.

He always goes above and beyond what a coach should do always to the benefit of the athlete. His knowledge and experience is phenomenal. Bob is committed to his athletes and is always keen to develop their training needs. The U11 Girls Cross Country Squad achieved recent success winning the Gold Team medal in the Cumbria League Cross Country Series. Athletes also achieved Gold, Silver and Bronze individual medals over the cross country runs. Two of Bob’s athletes recently achieved West District Vests to compete in the Scottish Inter District Champs at Edinburgh; one athlete winning a Gold Team medal. Bob has also coached athletes who have all achieved personal best and medals in Track and Field in many open graded meetings and the Cumbria League Track & Field Series, West District Champs, Scottish National Champs etc. Bob never misses a competition and often transports athletes all over the country so they can attend these competitions. Bob also assists the local secondary school as their official track starter for their sports day, helps at local cross country events organised by the Active Schools and Community Sport Team, primary school athletic events and Start Track Athletics run through the local authority.

He is always there to support, motivate and encourage his athletes and he has encouraged many over the years. His pep talks are legendary. As a former athlete himself he has been through many things and emotions that athletes go through and shows empathy to athletes. He is always keen to inspire his athletes with his words of wisdom.

Bob is a very worthy winner of this award for his hard work, many years’ commitment & dedication to the sport and the club.