Every year, in December, the National Youth Sports Trust invite around 350 young athletes, coaches and officials from various disciplines across England to attend a 4 day residential Talent Camp at Loughborough University. As members of British Cycling, our Young Volunteers are invited to put themselves forward for a place, and if successful are invited to join their peers in a multi-sport environment where they will spend 4 days attending sport-specific workshops and developing their skills as either athletes, coaches or officials. A unique opportunity and a chance to develop skills, learn from the best, and have fun in one of the most prestigious sports universities in the UK!
For 2014, Slipstreamers member Alex Jones was invited to attend as an athlete, where he made an incredible impression. 2015, however, saw 3 of our Young Volunteers invited – Elizabeth and Ellen as Young Officials, and Seth as a Young Coach. Needless to say we are very proud of our Young Volunteers and the feedback received in turn from British Cycling was fantastic.
Enjoy the following reports from our 3 Young Volunteers…
By Elizabeth Marvelly, U16 Young Volunteer
“Representing British Cycling as an Official at the National Talent Camp was such an amazing experience it’s hard to put into words – but I’m going to try! 350 athletes, coaches and officials from different sports spent four days together at Loughborough University taking part in various workshops and sessions… but only after completing circuit training every morning!
The four days were very intense, and even in that short space of time I learned an awful lot. What your moral compass is, what exactly emotional intelligence means and even learning about your philosophies were among many topics we studied. We also looked at all the roles within sport – and we would constantly be reflecting and responding.
The days were very long, but every bit was interesting. Whether we were with our sport groups or our tutor groups, we all got along and we thrived and bounced off of one another. (Go Team Eleven!!) The atmosphere was incredible, and (again) very hard to put into words, but it was such a positive environment I constantly felt inspired and supported to challenge myself. I amazed myself by responding to a question from cyclist Tim Buckle in front of the whole camp!
Being one of the youngest there, it was interesting to look at everyone’s take on their role within their sport and how they had managed to get there. Many people had already figured out their own pathway within sport, but we all learned new things – about the roles and each other. Learning about the different pathways and applying new-found knowledge to each of them was fascinating, and the speakers who visited us were really engaging and lively and enabled coaches, athletes and officials alike to relate with one another. We had amazing motivational speakers, like Max Whitlock the world champion gymnast; Dina Asher-Smith, the first female British athlete to run 100 metres under 11 seconds; and Hannah Cockcroft, the Paralympic gold medallist who was very, very intense.
Talent Camp was an extraordinary experience; my favourite parts were the workshops focusing on emotions and your inner chimp. To be given the opportunity to go by British Cycling was fantastic; the Camp exceeded my expectations and was a fantastic end to my year on the Cycling Award for Young Volunteers. I really hope to return in the future as a Mentor or as an athlete, and in the meantime I’m going to live the camp motto ‘Dream, develop, deliver!’”
Seth Kanaris, U16 Young Volunteer
“On the way to Talent Camp, I was very excited about the upcoming four days, however I also felt very nervous as I had no idea what to expect and I didn’t know anyone there (other than Libby and Ellen of course). When we arrived, I got changed into my special Talent Camp shirt, and then joined the massive crowd of Talent Campers. I was physically shaking, but I figured that the following four days would be a great experience. I wasn’t wrong…
Towards the end of the first day, I was beginning to settle in and had made new friends, and already started to have an insight into how the next four days would benefit me. The highlight of the first day for me was the opening ceremony. Despite the seats being horribly uncomfortable, I found it very inspirational, especially seeing three professional athletes give talks about dreaming, developing, and delivering. They were from Dina Asher-Smith, who is a sprinter and the fastest British woman in history; Max Whitlock, a gymnast with various international medals; and Hannah Cockcroft, a wheelchair racer with lots of gold medals, including the 2012 Paralympic games. I took away that to be an athlete or a coach or whatever you want, you have to commit 100%, have passion for what you do, and have the drive to want to be the best.
Throughout my time at Talent Camp, I met lots of new people, made some new friends, and took away lots of important stuff. However, as with everything in life, there were also some challenges. Initially, I thought that my biggest challenge was going to be finding new friends and not being extremely awkward. However, in reality, I didn’t really need to worry about that as I had a lot in common with many people there and I found everyone to be friendly and nice. My biggest obstacle was actually the long days, more specifically the extremely early mornings after late nights, followed immediately by intense morning circuits. I struggled immensely with getting up at 6 in the morning after about 7/8 hours of sleep. The prospect of looming intense exercises didn’t make things any better, but I ultimately managed to control my chimp and get out of bed, as well as giving 100% in the morning circuits!
Talking of chimps, a highlight was Tim Buckle’s presentation on managing your inner chimp. I found it interesting because the content grabbed my attention, as well as the fact that he himself was a funny guy and made the talk itself engaging. I learnt about controlling the voice in your head that makes things worse for you, such as saying “five more minutes in bed won’t hurt” and “another chocolate bar will be fine”. We also did a workshop on this in our groups, which was equally interesting and I also got a lot out of.
The main highlight for me was the Live Lab on day 3, which was where a national level badminton team were playing, and we got to see them train, warm up, and play a game. It was useful for coaches, athletes, and officials, as we got to see all the different aspects. As a coach, I noticed how the head coach was very motivating and giving constant encouragement as well as using various different methods of training, both badminton related and non-badminton related, and had clearly developed a strong relationship with the players. Not to mention the games and watching them play was very exciting and fast!
Over the course of the four days, I had a great experience that I found very valuable and memorable. From waking up super early and doing heavy circuits first thing in the morning to listening to inspirational talks by athletes and participating in workshops, I enjoyed every moment of Talent Camp. It was engaging, inspiring, awakening and definitely one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. And I really hope I get to go again in 2016!”
By Ellen Parry, U16 Young Volunteer
“We left the house at 7:30am and arrived in Loughborough for 9:45am when I changed into my blue ‘dream’ t shirt. I was then fortunate enough to be one of the 50 young people to attempt a world record with the fastest British woman to run 100m in under 11 seconds – Dina Asher Smith. What a way to begin!
After the fun ‘getting to know you’ games we split into our National Governing Body groups and started the first session. In this session we stated our aims for the camp and a code of conduct that we would abide by throughout the camp. After lunch it was the opening ceremony where we heard from Max Whitlock, Dina Asher Smith and Hannah Cockcroft. It was incredibly inspirational to hear their dreams and how they plan to get to them.
We then split into our groups and started the next sessions about being the best, philosophy in sport and our hopes and fears for the camp. We learnt that each individual has their own philosophy and each will affect different sports in different ways. I decided that I value respect, fairness and empathy. We then had dinner in our groups and the food was great! After dinner we played some games where we put our philosophy in action in different situations. It was really interesting to hear from officials from other sports such as football, and how they deal with difficult situations.
Day 2 was a pink t-shirt day for ‘develop’. We were up nice and early for morning circuits! The circuits were based on endurance so we had to complete a number of laps and repetitions of things like box jumps and press ups in a team of 8. We then went for a well earned breakfast and looked at our moral compasses. This was really useful as we learned how to consider the consequences that our actions have and how not to be influenced by other people. After lunch we looked at Ethics and reflected on the session on moral compass session. The highlight of day 2 was being able to see situations from different view points – athletes and coaches. After dinner we had a presentation about social media and the consequences it can have but also the positive recognition you can gain from it. We heard from FA referee Lucy May and Hockey player Alex Danson about their experiences with social media and how they use it.
Day 3 was another ‘develop’ day so we wore out pink shirts. The circuits today were based on power so we repeated a set of exercises such as burpees and walking lunges. The main focus of Sunday was to put the things we had learned into action so we watched a badminton match where we could observe the athletes, coaches and officials. It was really useful to be able to get viewpoints from the three branches of sport and I never knew badminton was so complicated! After the reflection session of live lab we talked about emotions and how they can affect our decision making. We also discussed emotional intelligence in sport and I think this was one of the most memorable sessions from the camp. After dinner we had a session from Tim Buckle about chimp management. We learned how to distract and control our chimp. This was an amazing talk and Tim is such a vibrant speaker!
Day 4 was the final day where we would ‘deliver’ so we wore our yellow shirts. We started the day again with some speed circuits which consisted of shuttle runs and exercise based on reaction times. We then learned about ‘Team You’ and who helps us in our journey to become successful officials, athletes and coaches. We then reflected on the camp and begun to plan what will happen in the future. Personally I would like to do more officiating at a higher level, get my platinum young volunteering award and become a Level 1 coach. After Christmas lunch it was the closing ceremony which was quite emotional and also inspirational.
So what did I take away from the camp? Some great friends, motivation to be the best that I can be because if you don’t do it, someone else will, and some incredible life skills.”
Wow! Thank you Elizabeth, Seth and Ellen – you have all done us so proud representing Slipstreamers.
What an incredible all-round experience for our Young Volunteers, and no doubt one that many of you out there would love to be part of. Click here to read more about Young Volunteering and what it can do for you, and do click here to read a few of the things our current YVs get up to in their roles. If you are interested in becoming a British Cycling Young Volunteer, be sure to talk to Asti who will walk you through the process to get you started.