When it comes to a team, it’s more than just the practices and the games that are important. There’s also all the other things that help the club running in the background. With that, January’s Valkyrie mention of the month – sponsored by Physis Ltd – goes to Zoe John.
Zoe has received Valkyries mention of the month for her constant work behind the scenes. She is always keen to get involved with club matters, and she always gets stuck in and can always be called upon to help out!
She receives this award for running our social media campaign single handily, leading our team to grow in numbers. She also makes sure we keep track of our sponsorship and makes sure all posts and blogs are done on time. On top of all this she organises fun things for the team to do, like all of our socials and fundraisers and we are all looking forward to the Super Bowl night out!!
Thank you Zoe for your hard work that helps to keep this club running.
Round 3 saw Cardiff travel to Kent for the first time, to take on familiar foes Kent and Wembley – who have been our opponents each round so far! With some players not being able to recover from injuries in time to travel, Cardiff ended up taking 10 to the round so Iron-woman football was the order of the day again. Not only that, but the personnel available meant the week was spent installing a new defence along with new calls and responsibilities.
Cardiff V Wembley
With Wembley first up, this new defence was always going to be tested against a team with a powerful running attack. And so it proved to be with Wembley taking early advantage of some defensive confusion to jump out to an early lead. As the game progressed the Valkyries began to settle in to the game and start to get a feel for the defence resulting in some stops.
On the other side the offence began to move the ball but unfortunately couldn’t find that little extra to punch it in. At the end of the first half came a big turning point for the day when the Valkyries starting QB Kira Walker was knocked out of the game, and ultimately the rest of the tournament. With just a couple of minutes before the start of the second half it was time to put in a new QB and also make major changes to the offence. Moving from her starting WR role into QB, rookie Laura Johnson went behind centre for the first time ever. Down to just 2 remaining other skill position players, Cardiff were also forced to go to a 4 woman line for the remainder of the day. Despite having just a couple of minutes to adjust to a completely new position Laura had an outstanding game, and was a constant threat with the ball in her hand not only running it directly but looking to throw it as well – although now probably holds the record for the most illegal forward pass ever attempted in the sport.
Cardiff v Kent
Next up were Kent. With most players playing both ways, this was the first time in the day where proper adjustments could be made and the gap in the games was primarily spent installing how the new look offence would work. In what proved to be a great back and forth game, both the offence and defence stood up valiantly against the Exiles. With both sides fully committed to everything and very evenly matched it came down to a few big explosive plays. On the Cardiff side, Laura continued to make yards with her legs, admirably supported by Zoe Wilder who got the hard yards when needed, running straight up into the gut of the defence. Growing in confidence and with a defence keying in on her, Laura then opened up with a huge throw down the sideline to fellow rookie Katherine Fretwell who caught the contested ball and then muscled her way into the end zone for her very first TD as a Valkyrie – a great first for both of them with Laura running all the way down the field to be the first to congratulate her.
Unfortunately the Exiles just had that one extra big play and it was no surprise that their #17 was the one to break the contain and sprint her way down the sideline for what turned out to be the winning score. Yet again, she had a stand out day, both on O and D, with some huge runs as well as excellent coverage from the corner position. The Valkyries had one last drive to look to take the win, but unfortunately fell just short in Exile territory and Kent were able to kneel out the game. Despite the results on the day the Valkyries left proud of their efforts. Special shout outs go to the following players who played every single snap of both games:
Mandy Gould – Centre/DE
Zoe Wilder – RB/WR/Coner
Lauren Oldacre – LB/Guard (every play but 1).
Speaking after the game, Head Coach Simon Browning said “Nothing seems to phase this group of women. No matter what the circumstance. No matter what adversity they face, they just take it all in their stride and – most importantly – with a smile on their face. Some teams would fold in such circumstances. New defence. New offence put in on the fly. Players playing every snap. Players playing out of position. But not this group. They just keep going, and give it absolutely everything they have. As a coach I could not ask for anymore than what they gave me today”
On that note, the MVPs are given below, although we could give it to everyone just on the effort.
Honourable mentions for this award are:
Sophie Nicol – really starting to develop at the DL position, she started to really get some pressure into the backfield, but was also always hustling to get back and chase runners down from behind. Great effort all day
Katherine Fretwell – Again great effort on the outside, doing all the little things that help the team forcing runners back inside for the help to get there.
As MVP, playing both ways – as most did – this player had a great day, not only on offence but also at her more familiar defensive positioning. The pursuit to the ball was again first class, shutting down many a potential threat with sure, solid tackling. Always giving 100% effort on every play, despite a niggling injury the defensive MVP goes to… Lauren Oldacre
Honourable mentions for this award are:
The O-Line as a whole. We had talked about needing to take control of the line of scrimmage for the last few sessions and in this game all stepped up and made a great improvement in this area.
As MVP though, this player was a constant threat with the ball in hand – and also got her first ever pass and TD through the air as well. Although I don’t think anyone will ever let her forget the illegal forward pass in a hurry!
Some great runs that kept the offence moving and a great job of executing a completely new offence. Well done Laura Johnson
In a day with great effort shown all round there were several players that could have received this award. However, the winner of the award had a couple of real highlight moments.
On offence, she was handed the ball with the completely unsubtle instructions to just get the hard yards for a first down or to punch it into the endzone. What was great to see was how she put into action what had been discussed in training and just made the one move and got north-south quickly, running right into the teeth of the defence and pushing them back. Great to see the work in training come off and richly rewarded with a score. Out on the edge, she did some great blocking downfield against bigger players – again never shirking from her responsibility. Finally, on defence, possibly the play of the game coming across the field like a green missile to stop what seemed a certain Kent score. I was convinced it was going to be a score, and I still have no idea where she came from to make the tackle.
Congratulations to Zoë Jane Wilder
A huge thanks to Kent for hosting!
See the link for the full album by Kieron Hyams! https://www.kieronhyams.co.uk/2019/01/cardiff-valkyries-at-kent-exiles/?fbclid=IwAR0XfRJrt8VkG1GqWh5P6vej7l-P2O91Dp0eBLED6j4ZzFY853MFbzBK-JI
Decembers ‘Mention of the Month’ – sponsored by Physis Ltd. – is awarded to Lois McConville.
Lois has attended all but a few training sessions to lead and support others, but what makes her hard work more inspirational is that all of this takes place despite of her ACL injury from Sapphire Series in January.
Despite unable to train herself she turns up rain or shine, assisting others in theory and techniques, and also works effortlessly week in and out as part of her presidency role.
This month Lois also drove to the first round of Sapphire Series – missing on the Valkyrie fun bus! – in case of any injuries. Not only this, but she lead on the organisation of our first home tournament and ensuring all were welcome to the event.
In addition, she was the loudest person on the sideline throughout both tournament dates – shouting and singing words of encouragement. When you have a small sideline (especially when all the team are playing non-stop on the field) it really makes a difference on the sideline when you can hear her voice through the wind and rain.
This is why we award her with of her support, organisation, and heart!
As the dust settles from a busy weekend and we all finally thaw out, there are a few thoughts on the team’s performance from coach Browning and coaches Simon and Kate:
“First of all, MVPs. We had decided before the games started that irrespective of what happened we were not going to give MVPs for this round. That 6 of the team were just turning around and going the other way each time, playing in new positions without any fuss made them all MVPs in our eyes.
People underestimate how hard it is to do that. To be mentally focused in knowing what you are doing and changing your mind set from Drive to drive. They all did brilliantly.
Saying that though, congratulations to both Mandy and Elleanor who each made history by being the first to score in Wales and the first to score an offensive TD. Also to Kira for the throw to Elleanor that made it happen.
But our final point is the main one. It has been noted by other coaches remarking on the day, and that is the character of the club. We’ve said It before, and we’ll say it again. The attitude everyone has is amazing. The fact that no one gives up. They keep going and they get those rewards at the end of games. We’ve lost track of the number of games we have scored right at the end of. Alongside that, they play the game in the right way. We’re proud to be in the sideline with you all and even more proud when coaches come up at the end of games full of praise for what they are doing.
The path is there. If we keep putting in the work. If we keep this mentality, then the results will come”.
And he we are again, another month gone in the Valkyries’ season. We had our first games on Saturday, and boy what a day that was! Everyone should be proud of their performance that day.
When it comes to the Mention of the Month, however, it’s not just about how players perform on game days. It’s about all the effort that goes behind the scenes too. It’s about our philosophies as a club, and how that player translates those into their everyday practices.
For this reason, the (November!) Valkyries Mention of the Month – sponsored by Physis Ltd – goes ONCE AGAIN to Katherine for her outstanding dedication to development and learning, even turning up ill to practice to understand theory and game. Congratulations you absolute star.
The first round of Sapphire Series was a fantastic day – despite arriving late due to traffic with only 20 minutes to get ready and warm-up! Ah!
The Valkyries are on their way home from a fantastic day of football. Going away with two losses, 30-6 to Wembley and 25-18 to Kent, the team have a lot to take away from the day – including many positive reflections. Rookies had a demon of a day, touchdowns, blocks, tackles like pros! Vets alike also had a storm, interceptions, and steam training with pressure on the D.
First of all we want to again say how proud we are of everyone. A make shift team with players playing out of position, and the team were competitive in both games. Others may look at the scores and think otherwise but they were much closer than that lets on.
Several coaches on the day from other teams were impressed with how we just kept coming at them the whole day, and how we never stopped fighting. This was shown by the efforts at the end of both games where we scored at the end each time. Well done everyone.
Before we get onto the MVPs, I want to mention a few other performances on the day.
First to Katherine Fretwell, who only left the field for about 3 plays the whole day. Did a great job getting a good catch and also holding up well in coverage and run support.
Sarah Griffiths, who had a good day on Dline, often getting double teamed. While it can feel frustrating sometimes, and it’s often overlooked as it isn’t the most glorious of things to be doing she allowed the line backers behind her to stay free and make plays. A true team effort.
Zoë Jane Wilder as well, having spent the pre-season learning running back, gets thrust into the game at Safety and did a great job. Definitely grew into the position during the day and made some excellent tackles coming down field. Also, switched out to Corner as well when needed – again a true team player.
Another huge thanks to club president Lois McConville who despite traveling up on her lonesome and unable to play due to injury recovery was a huge presence on the sideline cheering and supporting the team. The best cheerleader ever!
But turning to the MVPs now…
On Offence, she made play after play and proved almost impossible to bring down once she had the ball in her hand and was running in space. Even running up the middle she seemed to always make the first defender miss. A rookie that made it look like she had been paying for a couple of years… Laura Johnson. Congratulations.
Defense is a tricky one as there were several outstanding performances. However, the one chosen was outstanding in coverage as well as time and again coming up to make a hit on the runner or making saving tackles coming all the way across the field. The effort shown all day typifies what we are all about and the pick 6 was well deserved… Congratulations Ruth Lewis
Overall… In future, I am going to make sure that she is ill before every game if that is the level she plays at! A one woman wrecking machine all day that was seemingly in on everything. Not only that, but also the little things that go almost unnoticed such as holding the backside and playing her role. Again, I have no idea how she managed it but an absolute stellar performance… Congratulations Lauren Oldacre
Next Round…History in the making
Thank you so much to the Stallions for hosting and the teams for a fantastic day. First round down, next one to come with will be our HOME GAME on the 15th December! For the first time in history Wales will host a women’s American football tournament 😎 details to come THIS WEEK!