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End Of Season Awards 2020

Valkyries award night zoom session
Valkyries Award night Zoom session

This years end of awards event came a little later than usual due to the circumstances surrounding Covid and events getting pushed back.

Although we still pressed on and hosted the 2020 end of season awards ceremony through Zoom.

Message from Simon Browing Head Coach and presentation of awards:

A general overview of the season, we said it multiple times during the year, we throw a lot at you as players. There’s a lot we throw mentally and physically, and we trying to develop something and I think this year very much so you could see the development in everyone. One of the things we talk about is coaching the process not the product. It’s not necessarily he end goal we’re interest in the game, whatever. What we’re interested in is the path your own. So as coaches we try and work with you, so what is your journey, where you want to go. We’re coaching that journey and trying to push you and look at each individual person in their own right. Because you’re all different people, you’re here for different reasons, but overall as a club we’re trying to develop a team which has a lot of player autonomy. We don’t want robots, we don’t want players that just replicate what’s written on a page somewhere. We want players that can adapt at speed on the field, that are able to talk to us and say what they think should happen in a play. If you look at the journey we made at the start of a year, taking our performance against Leicester. We’re in a situation where we were essential running two defense, now I don’t know many teams that can do that. Yes you might change week to week, but to change to a completely different defense, that is a very difficult thing to do to shift from one game to the next.

The way that you were able to do that each time, and keep going, and know what you were able to do and talk communicate to each other and the coaches is just a testament to what you put in all year. And from our side, it’s down that journey, from where we were last year to now and completely deserved that win.

We’re looking to keep that going this year, to build on that and again that’s part of the journey.

 In terms of offense, we’ve got loads of games here. once again, it goes back to what I was saying about the amount of work people we’re putting in over the year. If we look at that last game I had Lois coming across playing as receiver, Lauren as recievr, you know, members of the defence coming over. Wilder playing at QB. Poor Mandy with all the heights to snap! But a testament to yourself that yes, you started on defense, but came across. SO again, thank you for everyone who stepped in, filled the gaps as needed. We had Katie, Jen, Gale coming over to the line sometimes at a moment’s notice and fitting in, and looking like you belong there. It’s just a testament to you.

There’s so many more names, like Ruth and Sara putting the effort in. Sara you first year shining completely, looking like you’ve been there for years. Ruth, giving us everything we know she can give us. But the one that wins the award is someone that put in the effort quietly all year, worked really hard to be ready, and when she was ready, boy was she ready. She really put in a really good shout on the field. The winner for this award is Katherine!

Defense

Again, it was great to see people getting in and getting their first touching on d and contributing. The likes of Cookie, sometimes nervous but still willing tog et on the field and playing the best of their ability. Hats off to her, it can be really daunting stepping on the field for the first time. Big contributions from our rookie class again, we’ve been lucky this, Sara again on defense putting in a lot of effort, the likes of Wilder coming across and filling in at Safety making it look like she’s been there for years. She did a great job. Lois as well at corner, it’s always useful when you have someone like Lois on corner because it takes that pressure off in the defensive backfield – a completely asset to the team. Lauren coming back as well from injury and coming back with a bang!  But overall, somebody that just gives absolutely everything every single play, gets everybody sorted every single play. It’s interesting as well reading with similar comments for “Valkyries’ Valkyrie” as well. But form our side, the organisational ability, the leadership that was displayed on defense – so the defensive award goes to Zoe.

Line

There’s a lot of people who contributed all over the place, Sophie, Hayley coming in, Jen, Katie. There’s a lot of people we asked to contribute. If we look at the way our defense, a lot of what we do needs to start upfront so people like Lauren and Katie and Zoe J can fly around making those plays, it’s because of the d-line making those blocks. It’s not necessarily he most glamorous, not necessarily the one making all the tackles, but it’s the one that’s eating up all the blocks and allowing everything to work. And I can’t fault the effort that everyone put in who was on the line. It makes everything else work, that unseen effort. My hat goes off to everyone who was involved, often at a moment’s notice! But in terms of who wins, it’s someone who held it all together. Again, reading some of the VV comments this is reiterated and it’s great to see it within the player group as well. It’s someone who’s constantly trying to help those around her, helping everyone understand what the play calls are, it’s that kind of glue that holds it all together. So our winner of the award goes to Mandy!

Rookie

Like I said we have a really deep rookie class this year and we threw them on the field, getting them stuck straight in. pulling you from different positions, here there and everywhere. Like Hayley coming in, understanding what your job is, what you need to do for the team and doing it! That really quick ability to understand what you need to do, and execute those roles. It makes everything work, and that level of trust around the team that you’ve worked and understand it. Katie and Jen again, coming across and play on the line, going into the game thinking LB and now you’re going to play RG! Completely rethinking what you’re doing – just that willingness to knuckle down and get on with it is the Valkyries’ spirit. ‘how can I help the team, how can I help the team get better’. And the fact that you understood it and had confidence to ask when you were unsure, it can be easy to stay quiet and pretend you know. But all of you as rookie class was willing to ask if you weren’t sure.  But for us, the rookie award, goes to someone who contribute both sides of the ball and at times just looked like a grizzly vet on the field. She was everywhere, making tackles, running routes, so our rookie award goes to Sara!

Overall

When we look at someone overall, we’re looking at someone who impacts wider than their position. The person who wins this gets the award because there’s a contribution on defense, there’s a contribution on offense, there’s a contribution both on and off the field. Be that helping people in training, outside of training, asking questions, trying to be better, challenging us as coaches so we get better as well, and constantly pushing the bard. So for us this award goes to someone who is constantly pushing that benchmark, someone who is demonstrating leadership throughout the year, embodying that Valkyrie spirit. So for us, the person did all of that in our eyes, bit of absolutely everything, be that last tackle to save TD, running routes or filling in whenever asked. So our overall award goes to Ruth!

Coaches player

This is different from the overall, this is not necessarily performance specific related (although this player did do what we asked her to do). But it’s that general vocal spirit, that coach-ability, that willingness, to just buckle down to do it. Between conversations of the coaches, she is so willing to learn, so willing the buckle down, to fix it, to be involved with questions, she’s always trying to push herself. And that to us embodies what it means to be coaches player. That someone who is always willing to push themselves a little bit more. Not always the loudest player, the most vocal, but always someone constantly willing to learn, to be better, to drive herself in her own way. Because again, you’re all different, you’re al at different points in your journey and for some of you, what might appear small for someone else is a big jump for you personally. That’s what this CP is trying to embody and ward for for, such a positive impact and development for themselves that it’s worthy of this ward. The person we’re giving it to is Jen! 

 Valkyries Valkyrie

This is the one I enjoy the most. It’s really interesting to see how you all talk about each other, and how you feel together, and that’s the V Valkyrie. There’s some really great comments in there.

We have: “Lauren, Showing up to all the sessions she could despite injury, keeping spirits high and joining in as a body to help us out with reps. So happy she got a sack to validate all the hard work she put in and the patience she had to manage to get there. She’s incredible and I love her fun-loving attitude and endless optimism.” We’ve got: “Katherine, As a rookie she made me welcome, and helping me throughout all the sessions”. Then “Zoe Wilder, She has made huge contributions and plays both on the offense and defense, always goes into each play with 100% and has gone into other positions when duty calls”. And this is one of my favourites. “I would like to nominate Mandy Gould as she has been so patient and supportive with not only me but whoever else has been put on O this year and is terribly confused”.

Now, I’m not sure if Mandy is confused, or if it’s those who came onto the line…but you look through this and it’s hard to name just 1 person as all players have helped me out at least once! But I put a vote in for Lois. I can’t thank her enough, she’s helped me so much and if not for Lois I wouldn’t have been able to play. She helps not only the directions but also her support that I needed. In every game she was on my shoulder. From helping me on day 1 to put my top on until the final she has helped me so much.

We’ve got: “Zoe John. As a rookie I haven’t had a great deal of time to get to know everyone yet but you have answered every weird and stupid question I’ve had, you’ve taken time out of your own schedule you gave me the direction I needed in a solid, motivating “let’s have at them” tone as opposed to a frustrated “just get in a fucking gap”. Wouldn’t have minded either, but appreciated the first!”.  And lastly “Cookie for getting on the field even though she was very nervous and unsure of herself and making a great tackle. She doesn’t always have confidence in herself but has the potential to do really well”. It’s so great to see we’re recognising each other and that we’re all on different paths in your journey.

It’s great for me to see because it’s all about support, and different people are named primarily because of the support you’re giving each other which is just brilliant to read. We’ve tried to build this culture that everybody can come in and help each other, there’s always someone you can turn to. There’s were eight people nominated, so across the team as a whole and it was quite close at the top, but the winner of the Valkyries’ Valkyrie is Zoe John.

The journey you’ve all done this year is phenomenal. We’re looking to push us forward even more next year, so it’s exciting times for when we eventually get to play the next season! Well done!

Summary of Awards :

Offensive MVP – Katherine Fretwell

Defensive MVP – Zoe John

Line MVP – Mandy Gould

Overall MVP – Ruth Lewis

Rookie MVP – Sarah Pratt

Coaches Player of the Season – Jennifer Davies

Valkyries Valkyrie – Zoe John

Well Done!

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HOME TOURNAMENT SPONSORSHIP!

We have some amazing news…We are very excited to announce that we have been sponsored by LexisNexis® Risk Solutions to host our home tournament in Sapphire Series! Here’s a little more information on our tournament sponsor:

“LexisNexis Risk Solutions uses data and advanced analytics to help businesses make quicker and smarter risk decisions. We design systems that help find and identify people, detect all manner of financial crime, like identity theft, fraud, money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as helping people without credit histories, obtain access to funds.

As a business we highly value resilience and teamwork – two essential attributes for success in any sport, not least the physicality and speed of American Football. As a Wales-based business with strong links to the United States, it felt more than a little appropriate to get behind Wales’s only all-female American football team for the forthcoming Sapphire Series Tournament. We’re delighted to offer our support and we wish the Cardiff Valkyries the very best of British and American luck in the forthcoming tournament”.

Anyone who has experience hosting large events will appreciate the financial implications involved for a club. So we are honoured that LexisNexis have chosen to sponsor us! This sponsorship will help the team cover essential costs for the tournament, including pitch hire, medical cover, and other expenses.

The event will be held on February 29th, with full details to be announced in the event page!

For more information about our sponsor, please visit their website: https://risk.lexisnexis.co.uk/about-us…

(LexisNexis is a registered trademark of RELX Inc., used with permission)

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Coaches’ Corner: BAFCA Coaching Convention

The annual BAFCA coaching convention kicked off in Nottingham with coaches from all over the UK in attendance. With a mix of classroom based and field based sessions there was so much to take away that can be utilised in developing the coaching practices at the Valkyries. The day started off with a talk on building a team with plenty of real life applications, advice and points to consider. Following that was two excellent talks from ex-NFL coaches on O-Line and QB play. The sessions were full of clear coaching points and tips that were a fascinating insight to the intricacies of these positions. Ending the day was a chance to watch these NFL level coaches in action on the field for live drills. It was an excellent chance to watch them in action and see how they pick up on different aspects of player performance and then rectify it. Overall copious notes were taken and thoughts are already turning to how they can be incorporated into Valkyries training to boost player development.

Day 2 carried on where day 1 left off with a range of classroom sessions. In the spirit of looking at different areas for new ideas I went to both flag football sessions to see how they handled issues around philosophy, game planning and scheme. Led by both Kenny Bello (defence) and Joe Cotterill (Offence) they were a fascinating insight into how they not only prepare themselves but, more importantly, their players to have success. The talks were full of points that were easily translatable into the contact version we play and certainly provided a lot of food for thought. Following that was an offensive session from Coach Mazzone who gave multiple insights into how he prepares for both games and training. A key phrase to come out of this was how he looks to “give players the answers to the test before they take the test”. Here is the emphasis on preparation and communication and ways in which we as coaches can convey information to players so that they can understand it. Again, many take always on how information can be structured and presented which will certainly be a help to us

The final day continued the trend of providing thought provoking sessions that really challenged us to think about what we were doing. First up was an in-depth look at constructing a defence for the women’s game that was full of key insights and statistically based theory. It was a truly fascinating look at how the best team in the country go about it and thanks must go to Coach Branagh for providing that level of detail and openness. This was one talk that certainly had the most direct take aways capable of making an immediate impact on the Valkyries. Following this was an offensive talk that forced us to really consider the ‘why’ behind what we do. At times a very uncomfortable talk due to the way it really made you consider exactly why you were doing what you were doing but ultimately one that gave very positive reinforcement and practical tips on how you could move forward so that you placed your players in the best position to succeed. In amongst these were talks about how to incorporate the Tight End position into an offence drawing on Phoebe Schecter’s direct experience with the Buffalo Bills and more from Coach Mazzone who went in depth on play install both in the passing and running game.

Overall it was a fascinating convention. Full of excellent talks that were full of direct tips and advice that could be taken away and utilised. It presented lots of challenges to our established ways of working and gave us new insights into how we might develop and, ultimately, give our players a better chance of success. Alongside this it was a great chance to meet coaches from all over the country and talk about how they do things and how they have overcome issues. Cant wait now to look to see how we can put these into action here at the Valkyries.

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Coach Browning: Looking Forward

Guest blog from Head Coach, Simon Browning

A new season and a new challenge.

It seems that taking on something new is becoming a habit for the team. Playing friendlies against local men’s flag teams and then being the only female team in a tournament shortly after. Entering our first national flag tournament and then our first tackle tournament a couple of months later. Instead of breaking for the summer, taking new players off to a summer tournament to get their first taste of action. Players getting their first taste of full 11-a-side action at the national Diamond series. And now… Read more “Coach Browning: Looking Forward”

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#throwback – Valkyries on ITV

We can’t believe a year has gone by since we were television super stars (well, kind of! Superstars). We remember the feeling well, it went a bit like this “OH MY GOSH OH MY GOSH OH MY GOSH WE’RE GOING TO BE ON ITV AHHHHHH”. It honestly did feel a bit life changing though, and it certainly got us some attention from local women and other media stations. Of course there is still much more work to go to get our name out in the Cardiff area, and Wales overall! And we won’t stop until our job is done.

Read more “#throwback – Valkyries on ITV”

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Taster Day – Find out more!

So the time is nearly upon us where the Valkyries welcome some new rookies to join the team and try out flag football. Ay taster day is an incredibly exciting day for the team, hoping to expand and hoping to introduce a fun new sport to the women who attend. Now understandably, not a lot of people know of flag football, and even more understandably, some of you might be nervous! We know each of us sure were on our own venture to the first taster session or training session, and so we thought we would take this opportunity to write a blog about our feelings in the past, present, and future of the team, and also go through the idea of flag football in general. Don’t worry, we don’t expect you to know the rules, routes, or even have an idea of American Football. Just turn up and have a go!

What is Flag Football? I haven’t watched it before, and don’t know any of the positions or rules!

Read more “Taster Day – Find out more!”

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International Women’s Day 2017 – #BeBoldForChange

For those of you who don’t know, it’s International Women’s Day! We want to say thank you to all the women in our lives who support us and mould us (from our younger years to our continuing ones!), and especially to all the women who have broken boundaries in sport. The expectations and abilities of women and girls – what they can do, what they have a right to do – are constantly challenged as reshaped, and here we are as Wales’s first and only American Football team, part of the strong and growing network of women footballers (both amateur and professional) who show every single time we go onto that pitch that we CAN and we WILL play. As a team we like to think that we are a strong resource of support and encouragement for other women who join us, regardless of their skill and background, and challenging negative thoughts about what we can achieve and replacing them with a new and positive sense of empowerment.

Read more “International Women’s Day 2017 – #BeBoldForChange”

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Diamond Series try-outs

On Saturday four the the Cardiff Valkyries  – Maria, Dani, Izabel, and Zoe – traveled all the way to Northampton for the Diamond Series tryouts. With limited or zero experience in contact football, the day certainly started off as a morning of anxiety. We were in a room with some of Britain’s best women American football players, which included Team GB players scattered among them. However, once we were all kitted up the anxious feelings went away, and we were soon filled with excitement.

Read more “Diamond Series try-outs”

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A Tale of Might and Muscle

As many of you will know, the Cardiff Valkyries have been giving their all in the last few months. For many, they have learned a whole new sport from scratch. Some have even experienced coaching the team, communicating and directing new members and old. Regardless of the level of experience, however, there is always room for development in both skill and strength.

Read more “A Tale of Might and Muscle”

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