Inspiring our ‘Sports Stars’ with Team GB’s Ellie Watton!

In previous posts I have attempted to explain how my MAC attempts to reach all children to inspire and engage. This year I wanted to start with something that would motivate our more able children to push themselves or to try something new. In this post and I’ll attempt to summarise how I went about doing this in the hope you can pinch a few of the ideas for yourselves!

I regularly get e-mails passed on to me detailing how our Schools can pay for elite level athletes to visit our School, but to be honest I had never considered it properly. But I found myself scratching my head over the Summer when considering how to enhance our P.E delivery (new funding, new opportunities) – then I remembered Ellie!

Me and Ellie Watton completed our PGCE together some 7/8 years ago at the West Midlands Consortium @ Thomas Telford School. Since then Ellie followed a slightly different path than myself! She is now a professional Hockey player and has represented Team GB, even winning a Commonwealth Silver medal! (in that same time period my most notable physical achievement is not letting my Dad beat me in a 10k fun run!)

I asked Ellie if she would be available to come in to see some of the kids in my Collegiate, once she said yes the planning commenced!

The theme of the morning was “What are you doing to be your best?”

Within our Collegiate we have our ‘Sports Stars’ – these are children who we have earmarked as being talented in one or more aspects of P.E. It is our mission to inspire these children to achieve something amazing in their life and to provide them with the skills to do so. We ask all of our Sports Stars to sign a “contract” – it basically formalises an agreement that we’ll try to help them as much as we can, but in return we expect them to work hard and fulfil certain¬†responsibilities. I’ve included it below…

The morning started with Ellie talking to all of our Sports Stars, she arrived with an excellent slide show that provided the children a very personal insight into the life of a professional athlete. The children were especially interested in Ellie’s training schedule and her experience of the Olympic village in Rio. Ellie was classed as a reserve throughout Rio in 2016, unfortunately she never made it onto the pitch – therefore never received a medal. Ellie speaks very candidly about this experience, it added an incredibly poignant dimension to the talk – the road to success may not be without adversity – how you attempt to overcome is key.

After Ellie’s talk she was more than happy to answer questions & pass around the medals she has won – including a Commonwealth Silver medal!

Then came the difficult part! Over 100 children on a yard all with varied experience of Hockey – but I had promised the children a chance to train with a Team GB Hockey player! :-s

I decided to design a Hockey skills circuit with 10 stations, 5 repeated twice. This would allow me to explain all of the stations quicker allowing the children to get started quicker! I printed out instructions for each drill in an attempt to make it clear what everyone should be attempting to do throughout the chaos. These were the stations for any who wants to pinch….

Ellie was fantastic throughout this, she had brought some of her Hockey sticks along with her so she ended up joining in! The practical element allowed the children to get chance to spend some quality time with Ellie as she could float around the groups and join in/coach/chat with the kids and Staff at will.

Once the practical element was finished all of the children headed back into the Sports Hall for a final chat. Ellie answered a few more questions and posed for pictures (she also signed anything and everything that the kids had brought with them), then I ‘went in for the kill’.

One issue we have as a Collegiate is the lack of activity outside of School life. I can confidently say all of our children are enthusiastic about physical activity, I’m sure they could name a few activities they enjoy in P.E. Yet not enough of these children are extending their learning once the final bell rings on a School day. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly where this problem stems from for us, one issue we have is variety/choice. We know that traditional sports such as Football/Rugby/Netball are catered for in our City – but what happens if you’re interested in Basketball/Parkour/Tennis or Handball????

So this is my tactic to help address this situation. During my closing few comments I explained to the children that we think that all of them are incredibly talented and that it would be a pleasure to help any of them to find clubs/opportunities outside of School. In an attempt to formalise this process I handed out these…

Since the ‘Sports Stars’ day I’ve had over 30 of these request forms back, which is brilliant when you consider 108 children attended the event and all of these were sporty (hopefully meaning they’re busy outside of School already).

One of the reasons for the high return was undoubtedly Ellie’s presence. She spoke very eloquently about her experiences and inspired the children to dream big and enjoy working hard. I look forward to seeing the fallout from this day, you never know, we may have just persuaded a child to put down the XBOX pad and end up with a medal around their neck someday…. fingers crossed.

You can contact Ellie Watton via e-mail here –¬†hockey_le@hotmail.co.uk

I thoroughly recommend it & I hope this post can be of use to some of you.

Thanks, Craig