And there goes April! Quite possibly, the strangest one ever for all of us. Or, at least, that's what we Rhinos are hoping...
You may be wondering what we've been up to since we were sidelined last month. Well, for all of the reduced activity on the court, there has still been plenty for the team to do and fortunately, thanks to such a wonderful bunch of coaches and admin types on our side, we've managed to adapt quickly and provide support of a different type pretty much overnight.
As always, looking after our immediate family of athletes was of primary concern as we entered lockdown, making sure they were as best equipped as possible to continue their training from home. Athlete packs were released to all Academy and Hub athletes in late March, as well as a video for our junior Mini netballers, which gave everyone immediate ideas on ways to train from their gardens, driveways, or lounge rooms. The feedback from parents on the support given has been extremely positive; and clearly, the athletes agree, if the many videos we've received capturing them working on their skills from home is anything to go by.
Five weeks on, our Academy athletes have just been issued a second pack - like the first, containing plenty of tips to assist with their technical /physical training, and general well-being - to continue their support throughout May. Mini netball videos now run every week live on Facebook, with the ability to watch each session on catch up, and covering a range of skills for our Juniors to give a go any time throughout the week. With much of our live content pitched at an intermediate level of netballer, they're also suitable to the U13 and U15 age groups; and they're made available publicly which means non-Rhinos players can benefit too. We've also made contact with a number of netball providers across the globe and will be releasing further mechanisms for training in due course.
Last week, we ran a number of online chats with parents of our Academy athletes from u13s to u19s, to provide an update on the Yorkshire Pathway and our plan for the remainder of this season and the one to come as it looks today. We had been running similar sessions internally and, as a result, found ourselves familiar enough with the technology (and seeing our own faces!) to do the same for our parents. Asides sharing news and receiving their feedback, above all else, it just felt good seeing and hearing everyone. It's not surprising when some parents we see twice weekly, every week, and have done for some years; like others, we're missing our friends!
Otherwise, we are keeping in touch with the Rhinos family through regular emails and group chat forums, and with the wider world through social media channels, web news updates, and podcasts (take a listen to our latest one if yet to do so). The phone lines have also been busy as our senior coaches - many now working as volunteers - host 1-2-1 sessions with the performance athletes to discuss training progress or any issues they're experiencing.
Our leadership team remains in regular contact with England Netball and other Pathway franchises, to keep us up to speed on happenings across our sport. While we are still none the wiser as to when we can safely return to the court, everyone is in the same boat and chatting together allows us to share our experiences and any positives we see emerging from the lockdown. While the Government leads on the re-permitting of gathering socially, sports science will guide netball on our approach to competition, trials, and minimising injuries. We are clearly united in our objective to return to the court as soon as possible but only once it is deemed safe.
For now, keep on moving, stay mindful and we'll continue to provide messages to our family and to the wider world as and when we can.
Rhinos: we've got this!