The winners' stories

1st March 2018

The winners' stories

Nominations for the 2018 Volleyball England Annual Awards are now open. The awards recognise those people who give so much to help others have a fantastic volleyball experience. Continuing on from the success of last year's awards, there are nine categories and the winners are selected by an expert panel of judges based on the nominations from the volleyball community. 

Here we take a look back at each of the nine award winners from last year in the words of the people who put them forward. Their stories might just echo that of someone you know who would be worthy of winning an award and inspire you to write your own nomination...

2017 Annual Award Winners

Young Official of the Year – Jake Welch

At just 16 years of age, Jake has already proven his dedication and enthusiasm for volleyball officiating. As a Grade 3R referee, in the last 12 months alone, Jake has refereed at the 2016 School Games Finals at Loughborough University, had appointments at National Volleyball League games and the Challenge Series, has been selected and served as a young official mentor at the Youth Sport Trust’s National Talent Camp in December 2016, as well as taking on many local and regional refereeing appointments.

Jake’s long term goal is to become an international volleyball referee and already he has shown a great commitment and desire to upskill himself and learn from others. He has made use of referee mentors both locally and nationally and is always seeking ways to improve his ability on the stand.

Young Volunteer of the Year – Sarah Booth

Sarah started playing volleyball at school in America. Since moving to England, she has been heavily involved in the East Midlands league, where she coaches and plays for Loughborough Panthers, a mixed team with a variety of ages and experiences. She has also dedicated her time to De Montfort University volleyball club where she coaches the beginners’ mixed team in the local league. She also referees local league and BUCS matches.

Alongside Paul Kaerger, Sarah created an all-female volleyball club in Leicester which now has over 30 female players, playing in both the local and regional league. Sarah captains the regional team which is undefeated so far this season. At her university, she is also the HEVO (Higher Education Volunteer Officer) for this year and has already run a 14-team UV tournament to raise money for charity. The university volleyball club is also off to Brazil in April to play volleyball as well as to undertaking more charity work.

Balancing her final year of university, placements and volleyball, Sarah continues to show her dedication and passion for the sport as she continually gives up her time to help the development of volleyball in the East Midlands.

HEVO of the Year – Fred Kufa

Fred has fulfilled his HEVO role with passion and persistence to make sure that volleyball gets the representation it needs to progress on campus and in the community.

During the Olympic Games, Frederick took the opportunity to showcase volleyball in Bradford city centre, resulting in over 20 people from the community expressing an interest in playing volleyball locally.

In conjunction with the University, Fred created a weekly volleyball session, open to community members and students. Over 50 people have now attended this session, with five of them managing to progress through to the BUCS teams. Following that success, Fred was able to successfully bid for development funding to create and enter a Bradford Volleyball Club into the National Volleyball League Division 3 North.

To further his own knowledge of the sport, Fred took the Grade 4 referee course. Not only has he made himself available to officiate for the club, he has also made himself available within the region. He has supported the growth of volleyball in every way he possibly can, including working at the 2016 School Games and showcasing sitting volleyball at the all-inclusive multi-sport event that he ran at the university.

Volunteer of the Year – Lauren Tucker

Lauren set up South Bucks Volleyball Club and has, in the last few months, invested every waking moment to not only create adult, development and junior teams but also to introduce the sport to over 1000 children and establish links with five local schools. These children now have the opportunity to play our sport regularly in the junior league she has founded. As well as overseeing the administrative of the club, Lauren also coaches and is relentless in her efforts to develop her own coaching and the playing ability of her players.

Lauren has always been the driving force; her positivity and enthusiasm has been infectious. Her drive to get girls active has been brilliant, across all ages, abilities and backgrounds. The children in the junior team love her kind, cheerful and supportive manner and she has given many children, who have not previously been interested in sport, a love for volleyball. This woman is a role model and she should be so proud of all she has achieved in such a short space of time.

Referee of the Year – Ludwik Kowalewski

Ludwik (Ludo) has been a registered referee for over 30 years. He is very active refereeing in the NVL, often at more than one location on the same day. Since 2012, he has undertaken 209 referee appointments and 51 line judge appointments.

He is keen to volunteer for tournaments and has become a referee tutor. He has also been very active as a line judge from his work at the 1991 Student Games through to the Paralympics in 2012. He is always one of the first to volunteer and is now employed to mentor new line judges. 

Ludo is enthusiastic and passes on his experience to junior referees well. He is keen to receive feedback and discuss incidents that make him a better referee.

Long Service Award – Richard Jump

Richard founded Tameside VC 24 years ago, competing in NVL Division 3.  Richard’s commitment to securing a development pathway for juniors and seniors has led to an outstanding record of success. By 2010, we were Division 1 Champions, only the third club in the North to achieve this. At junior level, we have been U-15 champions 17 times, U-16 champions 16 times and had 9 successes at U-18. Richard has coached all age groups to a clean sweep during the same season on four occasions. This substantial success has led to 14 girls going on to win recognition at junior and senior international level.

Throughout his coaching career, Richard has always ensured that his skills and knowledge are up to date. As a qualified, registered coach he regularly takes advantage of seminars, updates, and links to good practice guides available through the FIVB/VE websites. He is also incredibly well read on the sport. He views working alongside other national, regional and local coaches as an opportunity for mutual professional development. He utilises all of this to adjust his coaching to impact on players’ ability; the fruits of which have been evident over the years and continue today.

Tameside is a 'club' in every sense. Richard values and encourages parents and carers to take part in the running of the club, knowing they contribute towards its success. Volunteer activities include coaching, refereeing, scoring, providing hospitality, helping with transport and actively engaging in club fund-raising and social activities.

Richard provides opportunities for people through volleyball and inspires them to be the best that they can be. Six players have been inspired to become qualified referees and are active at national, local and junior level. Three players have recently gained coaching qualifications; one being inspired to return to volleyball after enrolling her daughter in the club last year. She returned as a supporter and is now a qualified coach, trained NVL scorer and North-West coach. Another player has been inspired to gain a higher level coaching qualification and make her living out coaching; something she never dreamed of.

Club of the Year – South Hants Volleyball Club

South Hants is an inclusive club with a lively spirit, welcoming reputation and a high level of volunteer involvement. It was established in 2002 with eight players. Its vision was to enable and support those wanting to participate in volleyball at all levels. Staying true to their original aspirations the club now has over 80 members. An open access policy ensures that members can progress from its thriving junior satellite club through local, Hampshire and National League squads. 

The club’s main success in 2016 was its affiliation with a local sitting volleyball club. In the last year, the coach has increased awareness and participation through delivery of taster sessions to over 400 school and college students across Hampshire. This activity has resulted in a highly successful sitting volleyball section within the club that takes part in the Volleyball England Grand Prix series. 

As a committed community club, South Hants has achieved success through its promotion of volleyball for all. Club members and volunteers work hard to give back to the sport and fly the flag for volleyball. One of such volunteer epitomises the spirit within the club by giving generously of her time and relevant skills, including first aid and fundraising which benefits all.

South Hants’ junior satellite club, established in September 2014 with six juniors, now hosts 20 members training on a weekly basis. This effort has paid off, with one junior attending the Youth Sports Trust National Talent Camp. Two were included in the Volleyball England Talent Pathway and three attend South East regional training sessions.

The club currently has nine qualified coaches and three referees and were the first club to complete the Volleymark accreditation. Individual successes have followed with two ladies winning VE’s Player of the Year for Division 2 and one member being named VE’s Volunteer of the Year in 2015.

Young Coach of the Year – Joel Matthews

After previously developing the volleyball programme at Nottingham University and playing a major organisational role, Joel has this season taken on the role of coach to the University Men’s 3rd team. The squad consisted of students who has had barely any previous involvement with volleyball but Joel went to great lengths to develop the knowledge and skills needed by the players to compete in BUCS Midlands Division 3. The squad has won several of their matches and narrowly lost a few five-setters to teams with more experienced players and coaches. Joel always conducts himself professionally on court and is a great ambassador for young coaches in England. He is a great motivator and his team's morale and chemistry are very high.

Coach of the Year Award - Jon Chetham

Jon qualified many years ago as a coach and many local clubs have benefitted from his coaching experience. He started coaching Coventry & Warwick Riga (CWR) ladies in 2012, supposedly on a temporary basis but is yet to escape!

Jon's passion and enthusiasm for volleyball is outstanding. He goes above and beyond to develop the sport and invests personal time and energy. He has brokered a relationship between CWR and Coventry University to provide students with local playing opportunities and is helping the University to establish a formal volleyball programme.

Jon plans every training session, copes with changing numbers, varies sessions and brings creativity. As a match coach, Jon is always calm and promotes fair play and sportsmanship. Off the court, Jon is just as impressive and creative; organising treasure hunts on away weekends or quizzes at Christmas meals, all in an effort to bring the team together in a fully inclusive manner. 

Above all, what makes Jon's coaching style special is his emotional intelligence to read players feelings and address them. He communicates with everyone, helping to maintain morale and ensure individuals achieve their volleyballing potential. Consequently, our membership has grown significantly. In 2012, we had 10 regular players but we now have 35 female members, with 13 registered as NVL players that regularly attend training and games. We’d be lost without him.

The winners' stories