Today we look at three shortlisted nominees for Sports Team of the Year in the countdown to this month’s community awards night which will be on Thursday, May 25 at the John Smith’s Stadium. The winner will be revealed on the night.
Huddersfield Rugby Union
What a season it’s been for Huddersfield Rugby Union Club.
Last year they suffered the anguish of relegation but this year they have gone through the entire season unbeaten to win promotion.
That has meant winning 26 games on the trot.
Next season the team will now go up from National III North to National II North.
Head coach Gareth Lewis has revealed the secret of their success ... they have dismantled every aspect of their game and fitness and then improved it all.
He has been in charge for four seasons. The first they won promotion as champions to National II North, then finished the next season in eighth place before last season’s relegation.
Gareth said: “It probably came down to inexperience. We are a very young side and were losing by narrow margins so confidence drained.”
But this season has been so different.
They brought in two new players, Francis Entressengle who was playing in the north east and Brandon Conway from Hunslet Rugby League Club.
The main bulk of the players have come through the club’s own youth academy, showing a great faith in homegrown talent.
Goal kicker Chris Bell scored a staggering 409 points this season.
Gareth said: “This season we have worked hard on building the culture at the club, selecting the right characters and creating an environment in which to thrive in terms of coaching and facilities and changes to the game plan from the coaches.”
He paid tribute to former Huddersfield Giant Matt Green who is the strength and fitness coach.
“He has made us the fittest team in the league by far,” said Gareth.
And he said other specialist coaches had made a big difference. Steve Boden from Yorkshire Carnegie RU Club has worked with the forwards, Danny Brough from Huddersfield Giants has taken training sessions with the backs, attacks coach Phil Gostling has held some outstanding training sessions while performance analyst Chris O’Connor has worked with the players to highlight what has worked well and what aspects of their game need to improve.
Gareth added: “The pitch is also as good as it’s ever been. In short, we have closely examined every aspect of our game this season. We are now looking to bring in one or two new players for next season.”
Four Huddersfield players were selected for the Yorkshire team including Francis Entressengle, Ben Morrill, Chris Bell and Lewis Bradley who was also selected for the north of England under 20s.
Huddersfield Giants Community Cheerleading Squad
Huddersfield Giants Competitive Cheerleading Squad have made it through to national finals after great success at regional level in only their third year of competitive cheerleading.
The squad has been involved in competitive events since 2014 and the girls train at least an extra 90 minutes more a week than their usual training sessions at The Zone in Huddersfield and even hold specialist training at Paddock Gymnastics Club to improve their gymnastics skills.
They were nominated by Bernie Morley, Dance and Fitness Manager at the Zone, who said: “All star cheerleading is extremely competitive and typically consists of teams doing a two-and-a-half minute routine with music that includes stunts, jumps, tumbling, dance pyramids and basket tossers where a team member is flung into the air and does acrobatic skills before they are caught. These routines are judged by a panel of cheerleading experts on difficulty and execution and any falls, wobbles or mistakes could be the difference between first and last place, euphoria or devastation.”
There are 25 girls aged from six to 16 in the junior and senior teams along with one nine-year-old boy, Reece Paga, whose twin sister Rhiannon is also in the team.
At regional competitions in Yorkshire and the north east last year the cheerleaders achieved two second places at Senior Level 1 and Junior Level 1, a third place with junior Level 3 and fifth with mini Level 1.
These good results clinched them a place in the national finals in Birmingham in July.
Parents have been amazed at the impact all this has had on their daughters.
One said: “To see the teams working so hard together, to see the love and support they have for each other is beyond words. As a cheer mum I have found new and amazing friendships that I treasure.
“My daughter has gone from not knowing what to do when she leaves school to having aspirations to be a cheerleader and a dance coach.”
Another mum added: “
Joining Giants Competitive Cheerleading Squad and being part of the team has been the making of my daughter. She is learning some very precious life skills. She has always struggled with self-belief but, thanks to the coaching she receives and the support of her team, she is blossoming. The commitment required both in terms of time and emotion is high but the rewards are immense.”
Holmfirth Harriers Under 20s Women's Team
These are the best female cross country runners in Yorkshire ... and they are still in their teens.
For 17-year-old twins Erica and Lucy Byram and 18-year-old Olivia Sykes make up the Under 20s Holmfirth Harriers women’s team and they had great regional success this year.
All are in their second year at Greenhead College and are best friends.
The trio have been a formidable team since they joined Holmfirth Harriers, winning numerous team titles including both the West Yorkshire Cross Country Championships and the Yorkshire Cross Country Championships five times and the Northern Cross Country Relays.
This year they have won the Yorkshire Cross Country Championships, Northern Cross Country Championship and, as Greenhead College students, were part of the Greenhead College Cross Country Team representing Yorkshire & Humberside winning gold at the National Colleges Championships where Olivia also won individual bronze.
All three girls are also successful fell runners having represented England both at home international and European mountain running championships where they have won team and individual medals for their country. Most recently Lucy won the Yorkshire Fell Championships with Erica in third.
The girls have also previously qualified to represent Yorkshire at the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships and the London Mini Marathon on the iconic marathon course on several occasions.
As well as running Lucy and Erica are also successful triathletes and are part of the Yorkshire Triathlon Academy
Lucy and Erica train every day, sometimes twice a day, because of the work needed for the standard they are racing at in triathlon with the three disciplines of swimming, biking and running
They all passed their driving test over three consecutive days earlier this year – nothing much separates these three – and they are all hoping to go on to study at Leeds University.
Olivia with sister Ruby and parents Margaret and Jonathan joined Holmfirth Harriers in 2008. They live in Kirkheaton. Olivia has won many individual titles at cross country and road running for the club and is also a successful track athlete.
Lucy and Erica along with their brother Lewis and parents Deborah and Wayne, from Marsden, have been active members of Holmfirth Harriers AC since 2007. Lewis is now studying at Leeds Becket University and as a good triathlete is part of the Leeds Triathlon Centre.
Mum Deborah said: “Their success is down to their hard work, dedication and the fantastic support they receive from the club and coaches Alwyn Dewhirst and Kath Farquhar.
“All three girls are very proud to represent their club, county and country at different disciplines and being part of Holmfirth Harriers has given them great racing opportunities and experiences around the country and further afield.”
Sponsor: Longley Park Kia
Longley Park Kia – genuine, friendly and trustworthy – is a 100% Huddersfield company proud to sponsor the Sports Team of the Year Award.
Established in 1981, Longley Park has its roots firmly set in our great town.
The dealership is still family owned and run and the positive reputation of Longley Park KIA just grows and grows proving that the values of a friendly and trustworthy company can succeed in a most competitive retail sector.
Longley Park had another record breaking year in 2016 with sales of more than 1,000 vehicles to local customers. In 2017 Longley Park KIA again goes from strength to strength with the launch of two of KIAs most popular models the all new Picanto and brand new Rio.
Longley Park KIA recognises that only by building a great team spirit with a sense of belonging can success be achieved and maintained so it is appropriate that this award is sponsored by Longley Park KIA.