Coach of the Year
Each year the CA recognises one coach who has, in the opinion of the coaching committee, provided outstanding service to croquet. This award is called 'Coach of the Year'. Please pass nominations to the chairman of the CA Coaching Committee.
Please refer to the fixtures calendar section Becoming a Coach for information about how to train and qualify as a coach.
Coach of the Year 2015: Ian Burridge - Nottingham Croquet Club
In 2012, Ian identified the lack of activity aimed at developing the next generation of international players and made a proposal to the CA. The proposal was accepted and Ian was subsequently appointed International Performance Director, an honorary role. Since then, Ian has used his network to identify squad members, facilitated the squad sessions and harnessed a range of experts from the croquet community to pitch in and share their insights into top level play. Ian's appointment was an inspired action.
Addressing the next tier in 2014/15, Ian set up coaching pods around the country, which concentrated upon improving advanced level AC play. He produced the material and supported and encouraged the coaches, as well as running the Robin Hood pod himself. Pod Coordinators have been impressed with the quality and volume of the material Ian provided, and with the set-up that has triggered a lot of quality coaching that otherwise would not have happened. When the Northern pod faltered, Ian went to York to provide a couple of sessions in a day, which was acclaimed as "truly inspirational stuff and a real benefit to those who attended". Ian constantly seeks and acts on feedback on the programme, engaging the participants in a continuous improvement process - his energy, enthusiasm and rigour are an example to all.
In the run up to the Women's World AC Championship he ran several intensive weekend coaching sessions aimed not only at encouraging our female players to consider putting their names down for selection, but also to give them the confidence to participate in more advanced tournaments. The results of these sessions were clear to see last season with three of the four trophies at the Women's World Championship being won by competitors who had attended his coaching sessions, and the number of women entering advanced tournaments up and down the country showing an increase, not to mention a new-found camaraderie amongst women players.
Ian has also found time to write coaching articles for the Gazette, which are well thought out, clear, and concise. It is obvious that Ian not only knows his subject very thoroughly indeed, but that he possesses also the ability to transmit his croquet knowledge extremely well to others - the sure mark of a quality teacher.
Good coaches are found at all levels of the game and are important in introducing and encouraging people to take up our sport. They are also important at every stage of a player's development and Ian has demonstrated a particular skill in developing advanced level players. To all he has helped he remains available for individual support as they grow.
Ian Burridge has exhibited an infectious enthusiasm for competitive croquet and instilled a desire to improve into all those he has coached. In this year, he has transformed upper-level AC coaching in England. Most players will not make it to the very top, but the important thing is that, thanks to Ian, there is now a clear and sustainable 'pathway to the top' that is open to every aspiring player and that encourages many to strive for a higher standard of play.
Coach of the Year 2014: Janet Hoptroff - Sussex Croquet Club and Croquet Academy
Janet Hoptroff joined the Littlehampton Club and attended Academy coaching courses. She became a Club coach and helped to build up a competitive environment within her club. Her achievements were spotted by the Croquet Academy and when she joined Sussex County Croquet Club to improve and experience more competitive play she was invited to join the Academy Team.
Janet became a fully qualified Golf Croquet Coach in 2013 and took on the role of Head of Coaching at SCCC as well as becoming a valued Coach at the Academy, in addition to her duties as Academy Secretary.
Janet transformed the coaching environment at Southwick and her efforts led to much higher retention figures from new recruits and, more importantly, created a much more competitive environment within the club. However Janet's biggest achievement has been her selfless commitment to the growth of the Academy. This is reflected in the fact that during her tenure course attendance has doubled.
Coach of the Year 2011: Frances Low
Frances started playing croquet in 1993 at Rottingdean following an illustrious career as a member of the Sussex County Cricket Club committee and quickly showed her ability with a croquet mallet. She gained her Grade 1 coaching qualification in 2002 and then progressed to Grade 2 a few years later under the guidance of Brian Teague (a former Coach of The Year). She is also an Association referee. Frances has done a considerable amount of coaching at SCCC running various internal, SECF & CA courses including coaching at The Summer School. In addition she has also coached at Rottingdean. When the Academy was formed, Frances agreed to be the administration officer. She showed her ability to structure and administer the Academy coaching courses effectively. She also demonstrated an ability as an excellent coach undoubtedly helped by her successful career as a mathematics teacher. One of her recent highlights was to run an Academy course with her husband for a French club visiting the Academy. The course was conducted in French!
Coach of the Year 2010: Dr Michael Lester
Michael Lester started to play croquet in 1995. On moving into the local area, Michael joined Budleigh Salterton CC in 1998. He spends a large amount of time organising and coaching beginners, as well as holding regular clinics for improvers throughout the season. His enthusiasm for these tasks has never dimmed throughout his time at Budleigh Salterton. His own handicap is now at a very respectable 3, and as well as being an Association Referee, Michael has also been a Grade 2 Coach since 2007. He is always most willing to offer advice and help to any player prepared to improve their game, and is a tremendous asset to the Club. Several years ago Michael and his wife, Marie, were preparing to move away to be nearer family, but realising the affection in which they were held by the club members, actually moved much nearer to the Club, to the relief of those many members who have been helped by Michael over the years.
Coach of the Year 2009: David G A Nicholson
David Nicholson is a member of the East Dorset Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club and has devoted an enormous amount of time and effort to coaching beginners and improvers with great enthusiasm for many years. In addition to this he organises a coaching clinic for rapidly improving players. He became a Grade 1 Coach in 2005 and a Grade 2 Coach in 2009.
Any time that David is at the club, just about every day, he is always looking for the opportunity to help players improve their game and offer help and advice. David has always been a keen sportsman, representing the Royal Marines and the Royal Navy at rugby, hockey, boxing, sailing, swimming and diving. After his military career he served in the Dorset and London Fire Brigades and of course played all Brigade sports.
In 1995 David was involved in a very serious road accident which resulted in brain damage and severe injuries to his legs. The brain damage dramatically affected both his long and short term memory. Unable to work, he returned to his wife's family home in Poole. David slowly regained the use of his legs and started taking very short walks. It was during one of his walks that he came across the croquet club and returned time and again to rest and watch games being played. As David's home was in view from the club, he was able to find his way back otherwise his memory loss would have caused him to get lost.
David became fascinated by croquet and started playing in 1998 using an adapted walking stick in one hand and a croquet mallet in the other. His progress was remarkable and in 2003 he completed his first triple peel. In 2008 he won the Club Open Championship beating the holder who had been Club Champion for the previous eleven years. Every morning David has to read and then re-read the Laws of Association Croquet to combat his memory loss, this then allows him to continue with his daily passion for coaching.
Coach of the Year 2007: John Munro
John Munro was a member of the Blewbury Club.
Coach of the Year 2006 (Special Award for Golf Croquet): Jennet Blake
Jennet's first major initiative on the croquet stage was to found the Eynsham Croquet Club in Oxfordshire of which she is still chairwoman. But her horizons were broader and she became a devotee and passionate promoter of Golf Croquet. To enable herself to spread the GC gospel actively, she looked to becoming a coach and attended in 2001 at Surbiton the very first Coaches Qualification Course (CQC) and the following year, encouraged by the then Coaching Committee Chairman, Bruce Rannie, she ran an abbreviated CQC focused on GC where players could have instruction on being Golf coaches.
Meanwhile, she and Gerald Mitchell had written "A Guide to Golf Croquet" which sold over 500 copies in the first 3 years. She assisted Michael Hague on a GC CQC in 2003 at Edgbaston. In 2004, she and John Munro ran a one-day GC coaching course at Blewbury and two more courses in 2005 (Blewbury and Leighton-Linslade). This was the beginning of a series of one day GC courses and two day CQC's (now called Training for Coaches courses) across the country. These have not only coached GC players but more importantly trained up Club GC coaches, many of whom have been later assessed as fully qualified GC coaches. In most of these courses and assessments she was one of the instructing staff. She has also put a great deal of effort into encouraging others to run GC tournaments in clubs around the Federations.
Her work is now well established and a range of GC courses coordinated by her has become a regular feature in the coaching section of the annual CA Fixture Calendar. She has displayed much determination and initiative when playing a leading role in getting GC recognised as a croquet discipline in its own right. She has trodden on a few toes in doing so no doubt, but her unflagging efforts have resulted in the outcome she had set her sights on some years back, results of which she can be justly proud.
Coach of the Year 2005: John Airey
John Airey was a member of the Swindon Club.
Coach of the Year 2004: James Hawkins
James Hawkins was a member of the Southport and Birkdale Club.
Coach of the Year 2003: Daphne Gaitley
Sussex County Croquet Club. Awarded a Lifetime award in 2013.