So that is the end of Sapphire 2017. It went by so fast – too fast. Way too fast.
Looking back at the four rounds, they have to be some of my most enjoyable coaching moments. The amount of energy and enthusiasm on the sidelines is infectious. Everyone is completely into the game. Always looking to the next play, how they can get better, how they can succeed. There is never a negative moment. They never have their heads down – it is always looking forward and that just makes them so much fun to coach.
There have been some great moments through the tournament…
Winning our first ever game obviously ranks high in the list. But so does moments like the end of the Oxford game, when we drove the length of the field for the score in two plays taking 13 seconds. So does watching the defence go out in the final round against the division leaders and take the fight to them, giving it all they had. So does watching players step into new positions without a second thought. So does watching them pick up new defensive and offensive plays during a game, taking them out onto the field and executing. So does seeing the Offence working through the whole game and continuing the streak of scoring in every game.
But my favourite moment has to be at the end of Round 4 when I had players and coaches from the other teams telling me how impressed they were with the Valkyries players and how amazed they were at how fast they had developed through the tournament. It was so great to hear, especially from other teams, that showed the hard work they had put in had been recognised by everyone.
But while the tackle season is now other, the Valkyries don’t stop. We will be starting all over again on the 29th April as we begin our preparations for the Summer Series.
A flag competition, it promises to set the team yet new challenges as they look to face off against top-tier UK teams featuring many of the GB Flag team – some of which will be returning from playing in the Big Bowl XI, a major flag tournament hosted in Germany with teams from all over Europe and the USA in attendance.
However, if my time with the Valkyries has taught me anything it is that they will not shy away from the challenge and will take it head on.
I just hope I can keep up!