This years’ Diamond Series – a full 11 a-side series – was not one to forget, seeing a number of Valkyries play in the first ever newly formed Heartlands Shock. Over three training sessions and two game days they played their hearts out, and they had this to say about the team and their experiences;
Ruth: Wide Receiver #88
Diamond 2018 was phenominal, I relished every minute! It was so great to work with new coaches who had fantastic insights and who never stopped supporting us. Meeting with and playing with women from all over the UK, from all different divisions was a great experience. There are so many talented women in Britball I can’t wait to see them all again.
The highlight for me was my touchdown but I would say the best part of the whole series was meeting and working with amazing people. It surprised me how much different the 11a-side game was to the 7 aside – more people around you to take you out! A lot a of different challenges in both types of the game, but I hope to incorporate everything I’ve learned in 11s to 7s.
Lauren – Defensive Line
With this being my first time participating in the Diamond series, and only having competed in Sapphire twice as my only experience of playing American Football prior (both times playing 7-a-side), it’s understandable that I approached the event with some trepidation. My knowledge of the sport is still shaky at best (being that I don’t tend to watch sports, just play them), and having only just got 7-a-side football knowledge under my belt, jumping up to 11-a-side felt incredibly daunting.
Nevertheless, once I got stuck in and attending two of the three training sessions and the two game dates, I thoroughly loved every minute of it. This year was my debut to Defense in Sapphire, and I continued this as I went through to Diamond, registering as a defensive end. Diamond also introduced me to the world of Special Teams, which was an entirely foreign concept to me in itself. The learning curve felt steep at some times, but it doesn’t take long to see that a lot of players are in the same boat and that everyone—both coaches and players—are there with the primary goal of making sure that everyone is just basically having a good time.
Over the course of Diamond, I feel that I definitely improved as a player—but not just in improving the things I was currently doing, but also being able to identify the areas that could use further work, such as tackling and handwork. In saying that, the toughest part for me was definitely in the second full game of the second date whereby injuries meant I had to fill in for a few positions I’d never been coached in! But as nerve-wracking as that was, I knew no one would judge me as long as I tried my best, and I think it’s a privilege to be part of a team like that.
More than anything, I think Diamond was a fantastic opportunity to build on my current skill set, try something new and also—most importantly, in my opinion—to make friends and play the sport we all love.
Sheryl – Defensive Line #98
Development as a player: was able to focus on more d-line specific skills through Diamond than I have ever been able to which I’m hoping will help me up my game next sapphire with coaching and direction from people who play in a GB capacity or within their own 11 a side teams. 11 aside experience was good. Helped bring everything together and bring through the importance of all of the individual units working together to achieve a common goal. My goals next sapphire are just to be the best I can be in a d-line position
Zoe – Linebacker #58
Diamond Series was such an amazing experience. From the knowledge developed in training, to the full-on 11 aside games, to the new friends made, it was a series that I certainly won’t forget.
The opportunity to have access to such experienced and passionate coaches was a privilege I don’t take likely. They spent so much time with us, tweaking the smallest of details, but also making sure we were having fun all the way through. On a personal level I’ve learned more about football full-speed at 11s than I have before, as well as points to improve. I’m so excited to take all of this knowledge and hopefully develop further.
I do think, however, that one of the memories that will stick with me most is being chosen as one of the defensive captains. It was such an incredible honour–something I wouldn’t even think was a possibility as I signed up to the series – and although we didn’t take away the win everyone should be incredibly proud of themselves and what they’ve achieved. Everyone came together and continued to work, work, work, making history as the first Heartlands Shock team.
Women’s football in the UK is growing and developing at an amazing rate, and I think Diamond Series is a testament to that. Let’s see what next year bring for the Heartlands Shock! #ShockItToEm
Sarah – Offensive Line #59
So only taking up American football at the beginning of this year due to a rookie day with cardiff Valkyries I found myself this year signing up for Diamond, my first time at 11 a side! Attending Training was nerve wracking and finding myself on the Offensive line with some amazing ladies and some GB players who towered above me, definitely made me feel worried at my American football knowledge. Training was really structured and throughly enjoyed the team moral that was building between all the players, getting stronger with each session. I did struggle at first with getting my head around new play calls but with the experience on the line and the guidance of the O Line coach Ross, I soon got my head around them and practice did make perfect! The games were another level and loved seeing be enthusiasm of the teams, the coaches and each player. We were graced with beautiful weather and even though the distance to travel to the games was a killer, we gave it our all!! I loved the experience of diamond and the skills I’ve learnt I cannot wait for sapphire to start up to show my development. I would encourage anyone that’s never done diamond to try it just once!! I’ve made friends for life and cannot thank the Heartland Shock team bringing us together!
Claire – Offensive Line #79
Diamond was awesome! An incredible opportunity to learn so much about a specific position. I was so lucky to get such an amazing team of incredible ladies on the O line. I actually really miss them now it’s over. I really miss football too. Can’t believe I’ve got to wait till November now
Elleanor – Defensive Back #24
Speaking on behalf of Elleanor, there are two words to describe her awesome sauce performance during Diamond Series…Interception City!
Simon – Receiver coach #1 <3
Being able to coach in the Diamond Series for the newly formed Heartland Shock was an honour and a privilege. That a new team needed to be created to cater for the demand says a lot about how far the sport has come in just a short space of time.
While I couldn’t attend every event, those that I did were amazing experiences. The sheer energy and ethusiam shown by everyone was immense. For almost every player, they had never experienced 11-a-side before so were truly breaking new personal grounds. For others, it was their first taste of football at all. Everyone gave absolutely everything into the sessions and games, but more importantly did it with a smile.
It is this aspect that I will take away most from the series. No matter what was happening. No matter what the situation. No matter how hot it was. Everyone was always smiling. Everyone was always enjoying themselves.
It was great to see a number of Valkyries attending the series. Putting yourself in these unfamiliar situations is not an easy thing to do. However, they all took to it completely naturally and played brilliantly. Whether it was Elleanor making interceptions, Zoe getting hits in the backfield, Lauren and Sheryl putting pressure on the QB, Ruth getting big catches, or Sarah and Claire doing all the unseen work on the Oline, each made their impact to a team full of some of the best talent in the country. They certainly caught the eyes of other coaches and (hopefully!) GB scouts as well. I couldn’t be prouder of their efforts.