A Coaching Career Highlight
8th March 2018
Volleyball England’s Annual Awards recognise the people who dedicate themselves to giving others a brilliant experience of the game we all love. With the nominations for this year’s awards currently open, we look back to one of last year’s winners to reflect on the incredible impact volunteers have on volleyball, and what it means to win an award.
Jon Chetham was crowned Coach of the Year in 2017, after he was nominated by his club Coventry and Warwick Riga. As was highlighted in Jon’s nomination, he dedicates himself to passing on his knowledge and love of volleyball. “Jon's passion and enthusiasm for volleyball is outstanding,” his nomination read. “He goes above and beyond to develop the sport and invests personal time and energies. Jon's commitment is unquestionably amazing. In one weekend, he once coached four Riga home games, plus then running Coventry University training before back to work on Monday for a rest!”
As well as helping coaching players, Jon was recognised with the Coach of the Year award for the work he does to support the next generation of volleyball players. He encourages juniors to come along to volleyball sessions, gives them playing opportunities and even established a link with Coventry University to provide students with a chance to play the sport and worked with them to create the university’s volleyball programme.
Perhaps the greatest compliment paid to Jon in his nomination, and something that would certainly have impressed the judges, was his ability to understand his players, first and foremost as human beings. “What makes Jon's coaching style special is his emotional intelligence to read players feelings and address these,” read his nomination. “He communicates with everyone, helping to keep up morale and ensure individuals achieve their volleyball potential.”
The impact he has had on the club is huge – not bad considering he only joined in 2012 on a temporary basis! As with many worthy winners of the Annual Awards, Jon didn’t realise just how much what he does means his players and club members. When he was told he had won the award, Jon couldn’t believe it.
“I rang Volleyball England saying there must have been some mistake!” says Jon. “I had no idea that I had been nominated. Initially I was embarrassed – how could I win when compared with coaches of title-winning Super 8 teams, or teams which had gone the whole season undefeated? Then I realised there was more to it than the performance and results aspect.”
Gaining recognition for his years of dedication and commitment meant a lot to Jon though and news of his win saw a very nice touch from many people who benefitted from Jon’s experience.
“I was extremely honoured and proud to win the award,” says Jon. “It is a great feeling to be appreciated, and the fact that my efforts and contribution were recognised not just by the players and committee at Coventry & Warwick Riga, but also by the wider volleyball community was amazing. One of the best outcomes of winning was the messages of congratulations I received from many players I had coached over the years – from juniors to veterans.”
“It is the highlight of my coaching career,” says Jon. “Like most coaches, I will probably never win a national title, so this is something I will be able to tell the grandchildren about!
“I have been coaching for 22 years. Currently, I am coach of Coventry & Warwick Riga women in NVL Div 2, a position I took on a temporary basis in 2012! (It is best to stay when you know you are on to a good thing). Prior to Riga, I played and coached at Rugby Phoenix for many years, and between 2009-14 I was the West Midlands Junior Development officer, responsible for developing players and young coaches through the Inter-Regional Championships.”
The impact he has had at Coventry and Warwick Riga during the last five years has been clearly seen in the growth of the club. As a member of the club explained in Jon’s nomination: “Our membership is growing significantly from 2012 where we had 10 regular players. Now, we have 35 female members – 13 registered as NVL players that regularly attend training and games. Bottom line is – we'd be lost without him.”
Despite being an award winner, it is being part of this volleyball family which gives Jon the biggest thrill.
“The best thing about being a volleyball coach is staying ‘hands on’ and competitively involved with the sport and community which gave me so much enjoyment as a player.”
Do you know someone at your club who is just like Jon? A coach, referee, or volunteer who dedicates them to giving others a brilliant volleyball experience? Show how much they are appreciated by nominating them for an accolade in the 2018 Annual Awards before the deadline of Monday 12 March, 2018.