Is it just me, or is anyone else spending their Saturday evenings in a state of high anxiety and expectation pressing ‘refresh’ on the Verde Recreo league websites? This season really is turning out to be a ten fingered nail-biter with a third of the club’s teams vying for promotion. However, it is not only those teams that have been the cause of my finger-tip damage. Clear to all involved, has been the steadily building strength of the ladies’ 2s and 3s. The wins were written in the stars; it was really only ever a question of when it was going to happen. Special mention of course to the selfless hard work, dedication and perseverance of our captains and club captains who have made this happen.
Another part of the club that has been reaching new heights this year has been the juniors. The Monday coaching session has seen enormous numbers (whatever the weather!) and it has only been because of so many members pitching in to assist the coaches, that we have been able to maintain such a high quality offering. Our U12s team is now on a par with the big teams in the area (where we belong) and the Badgers have had a very successful season. Of particular note however are the Vixens. The Vixens’ league for girls was set up this season and could not have come at a better time for the expanded and turbo-charged Bristol & West Jaspers. Hannah Bryant and Miriam Smith have formed a wonderful team of young ladies and the rate of improvement has been for me, one of the most joyous things to witness this season.
As always, your hardworking and dedicated Committee never takes a moment’s rest in its work for you. Top billing for praise as I write is Leanne Pursey and the others on the social committee, who put on a fantastically riotous “Games Night” at the weekend. As I looked around the packed hall, I saw not only players old and new, but partners (of all varieties), daughters (youngest only 1 month old), sons and friends. Suddenly, I had the satisfying realisation that B&W has become what I have always dreamed it would be, a mixed and inclusive, family club.
I’d also like to make a special mention of Julie and Gary who ran the evening for free, and to Paul at the Club who unfortunately had to spend 4 hours the following morning, clearing up – notably the sticky marshmallow and spaghetti we left behind (sorry Paul)!
On other slightly more sober matters, as the Committee has been pushing for, the club’s umpires had a social and educational get-together just before Christmas. Funded by the club, and generously supported and organised by Stu Bryant (in the Clapping Monkey back garden bar-come-man-shed), I understand that everyone found it a very worthwhile and enjoyable evening. This is something I want to repeat, as it not only helps our precious umpires develop and learn together, but it is also one way the club can demonstrate how much we value them (which is arguably not always obvious on the pitch!).
Similarly, Tom Bryant organised the second coaches’ meeting of the season (yes there are a lot of us!), and again there was a lively exchange of ideas and advice covering juniors and seniors. One thing of particular note was the determination to increase what we do for our keepers, with the first dedicated coaching session now arranged for Monday 16 March (to be taken by top GK coach Darren Ashley).
The next major club evening on the horizon is the end of season, red-carpet-glitter-ball-extravaganza sparkling Awards Night, which will be climbing on the shoulders of the success of last year’s event. You should by now have seen the communications from the club by various media. Suffice to say, there is only one place you should be on Saturday 25 April and that is joining the B&W hockey family to celebrate the club and those who have excelled. In the meantime, please give some thought to who you will be voting for when your captain asks. Finally, do you know of any businesses out there who might be prepared to donate or sponsor a raffle prize for the big night?
Finally, at our last meeting I challenged the Committee to think about what we could do better, in preparation for how we are going to set our strategy for improving and developing the club next season. The question was also on my mind as it was one that I had to answer on the EH club survey. Could I ask you to also please spend a little time filling out the on-line questionnaire? If over 20 members respond, we receive our own report on the results and the committee and I are always keen to hear your views and ideas.