May. Unfortunately, another month that we have been forced to spend in lockdown. Not that a lack of delivery stops us from cracking onward, in fact, May has proved another month full of GREAT in Rhinos' world! Here are just a few of our happenings and highlights from our own back yard(s) and beyond!
Online S&C Sessions
Throughout May, our Strength & Conditioning coach, Sarah Whitehead, ran weekly online training for our Elite, Futures and u15 Competition Squads. Our athletes provided some really positive feedback on the sessions both in the content provided and in it giving them a chance to see one another, all be it on a device screen! After a quick check-in with our u15 and u13 athletes on a series of 'Parent Update' sessions, who also felt this would be of benefit, we rolled this out to all Academy athletes! Again, the feedback was nothing but positive and for similar reasons; the ability to train as a 'team' - remotely! - and with a structure the athletes could easily follow. Based on demand, sessions are now set to run weekly throughout June, with some skills-based sessions already pencilled in for Academy athletes too!
More Mini Netball!
Also taking place weekly last month was our training sessions for 'Mini' netballers, which coaches Chloe Smith and Erin Hodgkiss deliver LIVE on Facebook each Saturday. Between them, our coaches have covered a whole range of skills during these sessions to help keep our regular Mini netballers - of which Rhinos now has over 100 - and other budding ballers active and engaged in our sport. If anyone misses a session, no matter as they can catch it afterward on our YouTube channel - where we're also starting to see ballers taking a look from further afield! The good news is, our Saturday Minis LIVE sessions will be continuing on Facebook Live throughout June every week at 9am!
During the Covid-19 pandemic, mental health has been given much airplay and so it was quite apt this year's Mental Health Awareness Week fell in May. The Rhinos u17 Elite athletes put their focus on MHAW through a series of videos where they spoke to a family member on life in lockdown, how they were staying active, mindfulness and more. This is a fantastic exercise at any time, particularly for teens who can be susceptible to staying quiet - certainly, during the lockdown when everything 'normal' has been removed from their lives - and the athletes who took part confirmed feeling all the better for it. Also during MHAW, u19 Elite athlete Erin Hodgkiss kick-started our 'Day in the Life' feature on Instagram where athletes share their typical day with the wider world via a vlog that includes their training regime, meals, pastimes and for what they remain grateful. Again, this is an exercise aimed at keeping our athletes talking about their feelings as well as staying active. Four weeks in, we've heard from other u19 athletes Annie James and Cathy Hewitt, and with the vlog 'baton' now handed to the u17s squad we're excited to hear from more athletes still on their lives in lockdown!
We have to give a nod to the many fundraising initiatives which emerged during May, thanks to the kind nature of many at Rhinos. The Elite & Comp Squads collaborated on a joint journey on bike or foot (that's cycling, running or walking!) the distance between every netball franchise in the UK. After calculating a distance of 2170ks, giving themselves 2 weeks to complete the challenge and to raise £1000 for the NHS, the athletes smashed it home in style - achieving a collective distance of 2232ks in under two weeks and raising over £1300! Also in May, coach Mark Boocock shared the terrible news with us all that one of his Hipperholme Hub u13 athletes, Freya, was to undergo treatment for leukemia for a second time. Mark and his assistants at Hipperholme created a video of Freya in action on the court and at home training during the lockdown, as well as a Just Giving page where they intended to raise £100 to help lift Freya's spirits during a tough time. The result was a whopping £1330 for Freya and her family which has been gratefully received. Freya has since been allowed home and we continue to wish her all the best with her ongoing treatment.
Return to Play: The Grand Plan!
As the country has now begun the journey back to 'something' that resembles pre-March 23, Rhinos has shifted up a gear on the planning front so as to prepare for our region's return to training. Since it is clear that Covid-19 is not going away, we need to adapt to its being around in our lives, which leaves us with many challenges and much to implement in terms of safety. Before we can accommodate athletes again, we have recognised an increased need for our coaches to understand the new 'normal' in which we will be operating, putting safety at the forefront of any training we deliver. In June, we will be launching a programme to support our own coaches and potentially others across the region so they have a clear strategy and feel better equipped to deal with the challenges ahead. For information, close to our social feeds over the days to come!
If you want to see what else we have been up to lately, check our other web news items from May - including our second 'Zooms In' session featuring Seniors player and coach, Chloe Smith - or head over to Instagram and check our Day in the Life vlogs in full!