Our annual Junior Dinner Dance & Awards Evening is a night which put our juniors in the spotlight, where we share memories from the past year, and celebrate amazing achievements!
The awards nominees were chosen by the junior coaching team, and whilst we can only have one winner for each category, there were so many good things to say for last season about all of our Juniors. You can read all about our juniors’ achievements (in Mike Murphy’s narrative) in the post below…
We start by saying even if you haven’t won an award tonight, you’ve been a credit to Stourport Boat Cluband all the coaches have high hopes for you all achieving great rowing things in the future.
It was a frustrating start to the season with Evesham Junior Head being cancelled, perhaps the start of a worrying pattern, now being repeated with a disastrous start to this season in the Region.We did however, set a benchmark on how well winter training had gone with several wins at our home Small Boats Head, with Open 4+ win for Fin, Sam, Ben and Danand of course with an outstanding performance from their cox Dip! Wins also for WJ 16 4xChrissy, Ruby, Belle andMollyand a WJ 162x crew with Belle and Mollytaking a double win.
Next up was a trip to Chester, and with a quality field, rattled a few cages with wins for WJ16 4xChrissy,Sophie, Ruby and Belle and the double of Hattie and Mia in the WJ16 event. This was a memorable event for me personally as Mia’s mom Rachel could be heard screaming on the other side of the bank from Manchester, scarring Mia for the rest of her life with embarrassment, and as the double was one of the last crews down, the river there has an unusual stream at that time of day……safe to say the steering was unusual to say the least, and returning to the landing stage took a little longer than planned. The chances of one of my children floating down the River Dee and into the Irish Sea was fairly high that day hey Hattie!!
Christmas came and went and we saw two new additions to the squad as the Larkin Lads arrived on the scene. For the first time in a long time, we were starting to see the potential for a solid new younger boys crew coming together. This was demonstrated at the Stourport Main Winter Head with wins for the O4+ Fin, Sam, Matt Gould, Dan,coxedDip, the WJ 162X Ruby and Sophieand the new crew of OJ16 4X Dan, Ben, Malachy and James.
We then reached a time in the season that reminds us that Rowing is not all about winning and ergo times, it is about developing life skills on and off the water; self motivation, teamwork , looking out for each other, respect for the competition win or lose. We win together and we lose together. As one coach said we can go fast alone but we go further together, and the support network within squads was unbelievable and demonstrated such togetherness.
Next up -The club was delighted to be able to hold the West Midland Championships right here for the first time ever – testament to the growing Junior status in the Region. Challenging river conditions for sure but it’s worth making the point that with the previous Inter-Regional status of the West Mids being 3rd in the country only after two Thames regions, we would be up against some of the best national crews from the likes of Shrewsbury School and others. How did we get on…J16 4+ Silver. WJ15 2x Bronze. WJ16 2x Bronze. WJ16 4x-Bronze. J14 1x Bronz. eJ16 4x-Gold. WJ15 4x+ Silver. WJ18 2x Silver. What a fantastic achievement, I’ll repeat that ……we had 4 bronze, 3 silver and a gold………showing how Stourport Juniors punch above our weight with quiet confidence. Thelads J16 4X winning event, beating Shrewsbury School…this was the Dan, Ben, & Larkin twins crew; a superb achievement as West Mids Champions.
We then took a limited crew list to Bedford, with the WJ 16 4X Chrissy, Sophie,Belle and Molly beating a SBC senior crew. Then, the disappointing news that with our West Mids Champs boys quad on fire, the National Inter-Regional Championships had been cancelled due to the poor conditions. We had high hopes that crew would medal at this event, so a big blow for them and of course the coaching team were gutted for them. We entered the Regatta season concerned for the weather and water conditions and alas we got the news Birmingham Regatta was cancelled.
So, onto Evesham Regatta with high hopes where we brought back medals with Sam and Matt winning the senior double, James & Malachy in the J16 double and the girls quad winning at J18. The Sprint didn’t disappoint, WJ15 4 X + Meg, Meg, Lizzie and Eleanor, coxed by Annie who stayed upright in the boat to win at WJ14 1X as well! It was also great to see SBC Juniors competing in the Womens Open 8, a senior event. We like this as it scares other Senior crews when racing teenagers. A good effort in beating Avon County, to just lose out lost to Oxford.
On to Shrewsbury Regatta, again with a high fast flowing river, Eleanor showed real skill in adapting to a bow steered boat with a win for Sam, Matt, Malachy & James in the O4+ event. This was followed in the Sprint with wins for Matt & Sam and Lizzy & Eleanor in the double. Some other notable times in the year were wins for Julia & Ella DiMambro (ex Junior) at Hereford for 2 years in a row. We also saw how Matt Palmer was sculling really well , losing in final at Bridgnorth.
There was no Ironbridge due to being cancelled, again due to the conditions, so our next event was the National Championships. The challenge of getting through GCSE revision, the stress, the anxiety…..it was tricky for lots of you, the coaching team could see this, but you stuck to the plan with such enthusiasm. Selecting crews is a constant challenge for us –leading up to the Nat Champs was no different. With the skills omnium and heat qualifiers including some of the toughest opposition in the UK, Stourport’s performance was nothing short of superb. On Friday, Annie taking on the omnium. On Saturday we had Beth T 1x, Lizzy and Eleanor 2x, Meg A, Lizzy, Eleanor & Beth T 4x+ coxed by Matt P. James & Ben in a double here, they were the last men standing as Dan and Malachy decided to injure themselves(!!), Sophie and Ruby 2x, Molly and Belle 2-and the quad of Chrissy, Sophie, Belle, Molly 4x-Given that in most events there were over 30 crews, (I think 42 in the WJ15 2x event) to get to Sunday’s finals is a huge achievement. We did this with 3 crews, a double, a pair and a quad. Superb, well done, you deserve a round of applause.
On to Bewdley Regatta where we saw Sam jumping in to a Senior crew with a win (must be the junior coaching that’s giving him all his Senior wins). Lizzy rowed up to steer a WJ16 coxless quad to a win and a took another win with Beth in a double, and of course Evie’s Mum at Bewdley reminding us what it is all about and what it is like to see your child get their first win and making it through to the final, well done Evie.
Finishing up the season at Stourport, I want to touch on the new Development Squad for just a minute. Now, for a few reasons I wasn’t able to be at around the club for the usual training sessions, and certainly when the Development squad was brought on board by Jane, Stu, Paul, Pete and others BUT (you wont know this) every Friday evening I would walk to the Angel pub opposite and sit watching the progress the Development Squad were making. I can honestly say I was transfixed on what I saw. In such a short amount of time, how your blade skills, your timing, your posture and your confidence on the water was just outstanding. And then, with what we all saw at the Stourport Regatta, I can only say that in time, if you continue with the same dedication,you too will be in National Championship finals.Amongst other great wins we landed WJ12 double with Mille & Sophie and WJ13 quad wins with Abigale, Izzy, Alice & Holly, coxed by Anna.We also saw a dogged win with Beth in the WJ15 single.
So tonight is about recognising everybody’s performance, especially when you’re all juggling schoolwork, part-time jobs and last but not least your commitment to training.We ALL need to commit to making sure that the Nat Champs is where every junior in this club aspires to get to, you are all capable and we want you racing at that level. So before we go on, please would you give yourselves a big round of applause to recognise your great performance last season.

The awards

Junior Cox of the Year –  Eleanor Jones: The coaches commented on how this persons confidence is outstanding in the cox seat, and how she has demonstrated superb steering skills especially in difficult water.

Special Recognition : This award is split over the three training groups this year and the coaches were asked to consider candidates from all three training groups…

Most Improved – Issy Wilkinson, Matt Palmer & Sophie DiMambro: This is a real pleasure to announce this award starting with the Development Squad. This was almost impossible to choose, but considering all things, the person receiving the award as most improved is Issy Wilkinson. So tothe J13+The person who will receive this award hit winter training with determination. Far from being a flash in the pan, his work ethic continued throughout the season and a noticeably fitter, more consistent and more skilful athlete emerged.The Award for this Group, as Most Improved goes to Matt Palmer. And finally to the J16+This junior has stood out all year with her steely determination to get it right. Perhaps a little frustrated at the early part of the season with how things were going but with hard work and self-evaluation of what needed to be done, concluded in a successful year.The Award for this Group, as Most Improved goes to Sophie DiMambro.

Special Recognition – West Midlands Championships –  Ben, Dan, James & Malachy: The fist special recognition goes to a fairly new crew that beat one of the quickest Shrewsbury Schools boat in the region at the West Midlands Championships here at Stourport to become the West Midlands Champions, and subsequently being selected to represent the West Mids at the National Inter-Regional Championships.A superb achievement, well done lads.

Special Recognition –National Championships – Belle, Ruby, Sophie,Chrissie & Molly: For this next special recognition, it simply just to recognise the achievements for those juniors reaching their respective finals at the National Championships. Competing at the National Championships is daunting, challenging, nerve racking and at times rewarding. This award is to recognise those reaching the Sunday finals.

Club Junior Person of the Year – Anna Jethwa: This is such a difficult award to vote on. We look for someone who is an all round good egg, so the criteria is quite broad but this person stood out and has shown great commitment and help to the new Development squad in particular. The coaches thought that after all things considered, this person was the obvious choice.

Junior of the Year – Beth Taylor: So junior of the year, is considered somewhat closer to pure rowing results and commitment to training. In the view of the coaching team, this junior showed how adept she was in moving from being a single sculler to an accomplished crew member. She’s quietly determined and not the happiest of bunnys if a race doesn’t go to plan, showing great hunger and the desire to win. So the Junior of the Year for 2018/19 season is Beth Taylor.

Most Overall Points – Sam Fuller: This person has competed with the best in the region, often races in a Senior event and holds his own on every occasion. With the most wins for last year, please would you give a round of applause for Sam Fuller.

Junior Captains: The award of the Rowley Cup recognise sour Junior Captain Julia & Vice Captain Malachy. No doubt they will do a great job this year! Julia& Malachy please accept the Rowley Cup in recognition.

Last but not least, can I wish all of our juniors moving on with through education or work commitments, Sam, Fin, Maddie, Katieand Anna to name a few. All the very best….please don’t forget to come back and see us. Don’t forget that once an SBC junior, always an SBC junior.