Everyday Heroes: Hannah Vines

Hannah VinesHannah’s journey into coaching came as a result of being an accomplished junior rower. As she progressed into becoming a senior, she often gave help and advice to other junior rowers and club members. Hannah has been coaching for 25 years now, but when she started at the age of 15, ‘Everyone in that era was a volunteer, and it was my way of helping the club.’

Throughout sixth form, Hannah volunteered her time with a variety of school clubs as her aspiration had always been to go into teaching with the purpose of inspiring children to participate in sport. Throughout her studies of sports science at university, she continued on her coaching pathway and began to take her coach education a little more seriously.

Hannah is passionate about taking the theories that underpin learning and applying them in a practical sense to her coaching, and she has several peer groups that she uses to bounce ideas around in terms of teaching and testing methods. Hannah herself says, ‘I am a real advocate of people coming to watch me coach and give me feedback. Although I have a lot of experience, there is no way that I get everything right so I like people to come and tell me what I could do better.’

Hannah is a tutor for British Rowing and full-time employee of the charity London Youth Rowing. They have a range of initiatives that look to develop young people through physical activity and open access to rowing at all levels by breaking down the stereotypes that are associated with the sport.

Hannah works in Newham, the most deprived borough in London, and is also in a secondary school full-time through London Youth Rowing as their coach. Hannah’s ambition is to use what she describes as the ‘untapped potential’ in Newham to compete against the likes of Henley Rowing Club to tackle the stereotypes.

Hannah’s biggest achievements are when she sees that light-bulb moment and the independence associated with giving children instructions so that they just ‘get it’. In her own words, she is loving the journey right now and going from ‘telling and shouting to just instructing.’

Being a rowing coach, she finds the most challenging aspect is the resources that are available to deliver the type of session. ‘The resources are the tricky side of things. You have to be prepared to do two types of session every time you turn up just in case something goes wrong.’

Most of the coaches that Hannah has come across and been inspired by are female. She describes the likes of Beryl Crockford, Rosie Mayglothling and Penny Chuter as the ‘unsung heroes in the world of rowing’. If she was to provide her own inspiration and offer an invaluable piece of advice to other coaches, she would say, ‘Never be afraid to fail. If you get it wrong, just admit it. Be as honest with yourself as you are with your athletes. I always say to myself, "It’s progress, not perfection."’

‘To put things into perspective, 20 years ago, standing in a careers office and saying I wanted to be a coach, and I was laughed at, but now, coaching is a viable career option for anyone who is leaving school.’

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