It was an incredible night on Saturday at our end of year awards ceremony! Here is a review from our coaches of our MVP winners for Sapphire Series 2018…
One of the reasons why this club is going strength to strength is because a lot of people are doing a lot of different things. We were developing really quickly, throwing a lot of stuff at the team this year. We had injuries, different absences, and we were being forced to especially on offense to go into games with one recognisable receiver, as well as no running back. It’s not what you usually go into a game with.
But overall, the fact that the team were able to respond the way that they did, putting new things in, trying things out (and often at the drop of a hat), for us it makes it that much easier – so the whole team should all be proud of themselves of what they’ve done this year, and we’ve really set the foundation now to go on next year.
On to the the awards…
Coaches’ Player – Zoe John
This is a new award for this year. The coaches player is not about the best player, it’s about the intangibles that go around being part of the team, and there was quite a debate as to who should get this. As a coaching staff we were seeing all these different things by players, and at one point there was a five way race. Then down to three…
One player in particular was said to be one if not the most coachable players on the team, and for one of the coaches, one of the most coachable players that he’d been around in football over the course of this playing and coaching careers. That was Holly – always learning, carrying on. This was was definitely recognised by the coaching staff.
The other person in the final three was someone who kept going, kept trying, kept working with everything. She kept wanting to know more “what am I doing?”, “how can I get better?”, “what can I improve?”. We’ve asked her to play different roles within the team as well, and she responded really, really well to that and put on some really great performances. That player was Mandy.
The final person and the winner of the overall coaches player is again someone who throws herself completely into the squad. She’s in and around everything, and a lot of the feedback that we get via different routes is that she’s always helping people, always trying to make other people around her better. The winner of the coaches’ player is Zoe.
Offensive MVP – Maria Mercedes May
There’s been a lot great individual performances this year on offense. We went in wanting to do a particular thing which we were then unable to do, and we were effectively adjusting on the fly. Which, again, is never an easy thing to do. Getting Kira to run the offense in training and even in a game isn’t easy, and one of the things we want to say again is we’re trying to give players the knowledge so that they can respond. We had a lot of players on the offense doing this and really stepping up, and also giving a solid performance so that we could continue to compete.
But the winner of the offensive MVP, not just in respect of the film but in the feedback as well from different players and things we hear throughout the year as well, is a particular player who not only gives a solid level performance every single time that’s of a high level, she’s also helping other people. Always trying to get the best of people that’s around her. And that’s one of the reasons really why she’s getting this award – so the overall offensive MVP is Maria. (Maria was unable to make the award ceremony, but Simon did a smashing job at posing…)
Lineman MVP – Jamillah Robinson-Heather
Another new award for the year, again, we had a lot of good performances on the line on both sides of the ball. It is an area in which we feel quite confident in, and we threw a lot of stuff at the line with a lot of different blocking schemes, really trying to put a lot of stuff. Both sides of the ball we really started to get there, which will be another major strength in the Valkyries going forwards. But, the person who’s won line MVP has had quite a dominant season. Right from the start she was noted by other people from other teams, and we were getting people coming to the coaches, and making comments about this player. This was the case right back from Topaz all the way through into Sapphire Series. The winner of the line award is Jam.
Defensive MVP – Lauren Oldacre
We were really, really proud of our defense this year. I think we went in with a really strong unit, and unfortunately we had injuries and we had to adjust, and it’s never an easy thing to start with a completely new set – especially with no practice. We think every player stepped up and gave us the option to compete like that. It was a really hard choice to actually do the MVP, though there’s a couple of players we’re going to mention who we were very impressed with.
For instance, Mandy. We think she had great defensive season. We asked her to play in two roles that’s she’s never trained in, and she showed a lot of skill and a lot of determination, and she made me really proud of having such a determined player who just picked it up and ran with it. Another person was Sarah who had hardly any training sessions and none on the defense and all she had to go on for this position was a classroom session. We think she did a wonderful job.
The defensive player that we’ve chosen we also ask quite a lot of. We’ve asked her to play more than one role, and she shows a lot of determination and aggression in her play. It was such a pleasure to watch her, she was getting better with each game, her tackles were getting more aggressive, better at reading the opposition, and knowing where the play is going to. So it’s our pleasure to give the defensive award to Lauren.
Overall MVP – Ruth Lewis
Although our overall MVP is nominated early for the the nomination of Sapphire Series MVP, it’s important to acknowledge the reasoning for the nomination. This is someone that gives everything in every single play. When you’ve got opposition defences screaming out where she is on the field and rotating their entire defense to the side of the field to where she is standing, you know that she is a key player. You know that she’s given oppositions a hard time, and to still score the touchdowns that she is scoring with the entire defense watching her says a lot about that. Also then coming across to defense and having to pick up more and more on defense as well, and towards the end pretty much involved in all the tackles at one point – again, throwing herself into a new role and giving everything at that. The tackles, the chases the pursuits – and it’s not easy playing both ways as corner and receiver. So overall MVP is Ruth.
Valkyries’ Valkyrie – Zoe John
For the coaches this is the most important award where most are concerned, because this is the one where we ask who the players believe epitomizes what it means to be a Valkyrie. And what was great was that there was eight people who were nominated for this, and it was almost a four way tie. Looking at some of the comments there was a general theme, and what’s great is that the general theme is about how supportive everyone is. It’s one of the those important things to our culture as a club that we are seen as that family type atmosphere, so this was brilliant. So just picking out a few comments, there’s a couple for Sheryl ‘Shed’ “for being a good shed”, as well as for her leadership as Defensive Captain. Maria, again, for bringing in the new players onto the line and helping them. Holly with some votes, for helping players and being very supportive behind the scenes, Kira for “keeping everything upbeat and taking everything in her stride”, Jam for keeping things up and asking question being involved, and an overall “good egg”. Lois as well for her knowledge, still coming to games and training even though she has one leg, still on the side-lines, being involved. Ruth as well, helping others and and calming nerves. It really is so positive to hear everyone’s comments.
The person who has won the award this year has received comments alongside others around the help she gives, but also in that the soul of the team. She takes on all of the challenges that she’s faced, and she’s there for teammates who are injured. A good all-round teammate and she does so much for the team, too. The Valkyries’ Valkyrie this year is Zoe.
The Flump award : Lois and Jam
Let’s not forget an additional new award for Sapphire Series 2018, the ‘Flump’ award. The ‘Flump’ award is given at the end of each game to the person who made the biggest ‘flump’. The overall Flump award this year was a difficult decision…but it was decided to be a joint winning between Lois for tearing her ACL in the first first (and not even bothering to run for a touchdown may we add…) and Jam, for tearing her achilles without realising, and returning to play in Sapphire Round 4 and practically obliterated it. **Also need to point out how two players can swear a leg brace and a big heckin’ leg boot and still make it look super fly…**
Well done to all of the team for what they have accomplished this year. Going up to 7s in just our second year of tackle was a big leap, and we couldn’t be more proud of you!
With many thanks to O’Neill’s St. Mary Street Cardiff for hosting our event and putting on a fantastic spread!