March. Already! Where to start on what we’ve been up to?
How about we kick off with an update on our progress in the NPL – and what an absolutely cracking season so far for Rhino’s U19 team! This year’s ‘new kids’ and yet currently sitting in 2nd place in the league! The past few weeks have seen two hard-fought losses away to Pulse and Wasps and a couple of strong wins against Mavericks (a replay) and on Saturday, against Team Bath. At home, things could not have gone better with two comprehensive wins in front of almost capacity crowds at the EIS (61-34 against North East) and Beckett (61-43 against Severn Stars). Rest assured, the team will be going all out for success in our remaining games, starting with our final one at home on March 30th at the Uni of York; you can read more on this game in our latest press release here and make sure you grab your tickets to come and cheer us on!
A couple of weeks ago, I was asked by the Rhinos Foundation to comment on International Women’s Day; you’ll find the full write up online here. It’s so important to recognise the effort many females have to put in to be heard in sport. Although I can’t help but think every day is a celebration, when I’m privy to examples of inspiring and committed females right in front of me, week in, week out – from athletes in training sessions, weights rooms, and playing their matches on court, to the coaches and volunteers who love our game and inspire our players to be their best.
In terms of the pathway, we’re just past the half-way mark this season now and, at times, it’s hard to fathom just how far we’ve come this six months. Participation has grown massively since then; to give you an idea, our training Academy had around 80 athletes during the 2017/18 season; this year, we’re up to 180 athletes across our U19,17,15 and 13 Academies. And that’s before we look to the community, where things get really interesting! Last year our weekly training hubs – which are an additional forum for players wanting to improve and reach the performance level – were running in Leeds and Bishop Burton; now, we’re now hosting five in total with Barnard Castle, Doncaster and Wakefield accommodating another 60 plus players. In our Minis classes, which have grown from sub 20 junior aged girls to close to 100 at four regional venues across Yorkshire. That’s an incredible stretch in participation! You can imagine how proud I feel of everyone who’s been involved in making this happen.
Also in the community, we’re being asked more and more to visit schools across the region, state and independent. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be supporting a tournament at Carr Manor school in Leeds, plus a second at St Margaret’s Higher Education college in York. Whether it’s the pupils who need a hand, or the teachers who want educating on the game to deliver a better session for their players, our own Rhinos Netball coaching team are happy to help when available; just send us an email if you’d like to discuss how we can help with this type of initiative: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Prestige workshops are now back in full swing with our first this March having focused on the GA/GS relationship and including plenty of tricks and tips for inside and outside of the D. Whilst guest coach, Dan Ryan, was unable to deliver the session as planned, we continued on with our own Pathway Coach Emily Perry and just shy of 40 athletes were able to gain much from her experience with England Netball, Team Bath and more recently, Leeds Rhinos. If you’re a mid-court player, keep your eyes peeled for details of our next Prestige event on April 26th.
Finally, we took a trip to the Emerald Stadium this month which was out of this world! Over 80 of our netball athletes made it along on the back of our invite from Gary Hetherington and team at Rhinos Rugby, and what to say… Wow. Just. Wow! Being invited onto the pitch ahead of their game against Wakefield Trinity was an enthralling experience for all of us, especially our younger Minis! It makes us realise how big a family we are these days, and what strength this gives us as a netball club. Thank you again, Rhinos Rugby and the Rhinos Foundation, for making these opportunities happen!
Keep your eyes – and ears (via podcasts like Netball Nation!) – on alert for more news on Leeds Rhinos Netball; as well as our website and Twitter feed.
And… if you’re not watching the Superleague this season, you should be! It is ALL happening at the performance end of domestic netball, an area we’re doing everything we can to be a part of next year! Watch this space, Yorkshire!