#UKCoachingWeek, British Orienteering earlier this year were very excited to once again be recognising the exceptional work that continues to be done within the orienteering community. The National Annual Awards take place every year and receives nominations for the category of Coach of the Year.
2020 was a challenging year, and the work that was done was impressive. The Coach of the Year award is presented to coaches who demonstrate success in engaging new people, improving the performance of orienteers and/or developing other coaches.
This year’s winner Coach of the Year was awarded to: Nick Lightfoot (South Yorkshire Orienteers).
Nick coaches regularly at weekly club coaching sessions and is also coach to the High Storrs orienteering team. He also coaches the Yorkshire Junior Squad and is a personal coach to orienteers aiming to compete at international level.
At club level his focus is mainly on the development of beginners and improvers. He coaches both adults and juniors, planning and delivering coaching activities.
Personal coaching activities include devising and reviewing training programmes, planning exercises for terrain and armchair training, analysing races, research to support athlete development and specific race preparation, liaising with squad and team coaches and supporting the athletes before, during and after their target races.
On average Nick spends around 10-12 hours per week volunteering as a coach.
Nick's achievements in the last 12 months have contributed to him being awarded Coach of the Year 2021.
While Nick has had major success in coaching athletes to international success in the past, his focus and way of working has changed significantly this past year due to the pandemic. Nick deserves particular recognition to the way he has adapted his methods to cope with lockdown restrictions. His personal sessions with athletes have continued, switching from face-2-face sessions to online. He has also instigated the very successful SYO Catching Features sessions which provide coaching and competition to a huge range of club members ranging from beginners to elites. He has also set up a regular Monday night coaching clinic via Zoom. The sessions are wide ranging in content and include areas such as theoretical presentations, practical map exercises and race analysis. These sessions have been very popular, particularly with improving adults who have really appreciated the chance to talk over maps and routes.
Outside of lockdown he has continued to deliver coaching sessions for the High Storrs team and weekly club night sessions. He has also planned and delivered a real life coaching session for the YHJS squad and has assisted regularly with coaching a “break out” group in the on-line sessions. He also assisted with the virtual Deeside tour in the summer.
Nick is an enthusiastic and passionate coach who devote UndoKeyboard shortcut Ctrl+Zs many volunteer hours to developing orienteers of all ages and abilities.
Commenting on his award Nick says:
“In trying to be creative and keep going as best we could during a challenging year it raised the question, what are we trying to achieve in orienteering coaching? For a sport that prides itself in navigational excellence I think many of us have lost our way in recent years with too much emphasis on results and forgetting that it’s the quality of the journey and experiences along the way that are important. It seems fitting then that I should receive an award in a year when races have been few and far between. I’ve had many special moments in my 40-year coaching journey and met far too many inspirational people to thank them all, but I recall one youngster who, after competing for the primary school I was coaching, declared that orienteering was his ‘new favourite sport’. His enthusiasm survived the pandemic and last weekend, 4 years on, he ran past me on a regional squad training exercise, still with a smile on his face. That seems like a result to me - so thank you Isaac!”
Many congratulations again Nick.