End of Term Report: playing on in the spirit of Mickey

Today marks the conclusion of our second full term at Velocity Football as students break up for a well-deserved two-and-a-half-week break to celebrate Easter.

The last 13 weeks have been tinged with every emotion imaginable.

Frustration as the country was placed into a third lockdown on the evening of our first day back after Christmas. Joy upon the completion of two charity events that raised money for worthwhile causes. Relief when we were finally able to return to face-to-face training on March 8.

But all those feelings were irrelevant when we mourned the loss of our much-loved head coach Mickey Lewis, who sadly passed away on Friday, March 5, after a short illness.

It is testament to the resilience, attitude and respect of all students and staff that lessons and training have continued with their usual burst of energy in Mickey’s honour.

Before we break up, we have taken a moment to reflect on our spring term.

Going the extra mile

At the start of term, students committed themselves to completing Red January in aid of Sport in Mind.

By doing something active for each of the 31 days in January, more than £1,000 was raised for the charity that improves the lives of people experiencing mental health problems via sport and physical activity.

BTEC students certainly caught the running bug as teenagers studying our female programme all completed a marathon on Wednesday, February 10. The marathons were completed in aid of support packages being developed by Ignite Sport UK with Oxford City FC, FitFest Oxford and The Oxford Food Company to help families in need.

Lauren Haynes, Head Coach of our female programme, said: “The efforts of our students meant Ignite Sport UK and their partners were able to extend the distribution period of support packages into February half-term.

“All students who completed a marathon should be very proud of themselves. Their efforts epitomise the strong team spirit they have formed in and outside the classroom this year.”

Adapting to digital

Like all education sites across the country, much of this term was spent at home to help control the spread of COVID-19.

Until March 8, all training sessions and lessons were delivered via Zoom. Each student received a minimum of 12 hours of teaching and assignment work in addition to four hours of live workouts and training sessions.

“Velocity Football prides itself on its hands-on approach to learning that allows young people to reach their full potential as a student-athlete,” said Lauren. “To retain student engagement, we introduced new programmes to the syllabus including analysis sessions, tactical sessions, HIIT, cross-fit and resistance band workouts plus baking club on Fridays.”

Lauren Haynes delivers a Zoom-based session to students when they were learning from home.

In the classroom

Although development on the pitch has been at the forefront of students’ minds, they have worked hard off the field too.

Year one students have primarily focused on the Health and Wellbeing Unit on the Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport programme. This unit explores mental and physical health and how it impacts everyday life.

Year two students meanwhile have completed the Injuries in Sport unit and have started looking at the power of sports psychology.

Matt Giles, Lead Tutor at Velocity Football, said: “Since re-opening our doors, students have been very positive and displayed great awareness concerning the latest COVID-19 guidelines.

“Students retaking their Maths and English GCSEs have completed their mock exams which will help towards their final grade. It’s been a very positive term for everyone despite the obvious challenges.”

New team members

In January, we expanded our team of coaches by welcoming Dominic Newton and Dean Tetley to our education programme.

Dominic joined as the course’s new Performance Analyst while Dean took on the role as Strength and Conditioning coach.

Their addition to the team ensures students will be able to optimise their performances while following our proven progression pathway that helps them gain real-life experiences of different professions in the sports sector.

Dean said: “Velocity Football understands the true value of physical performance both on the pitch and in the classroom.

“From an educational point of view, I can’t wait to help students with their studies and hopefully relay my passion for sports science across to others who may consider it as a career option.”

Dean featured in the first of our ‘Careers in Sport’ blogs that helps young people develop a better understanding of the various job titles available in sport. You can read the post here.

A warm welcome to Dominic Newton and Dean Tetley.

Remembering Mickey

It seems appropriate that our final words should be dedicated to our great friend Mickey Lewis.

Mickey was head of our male programme at Velocity Football and worked in the role full-time up until he fell ill. Mickey led Velocity Football with tremendous vision, passion, energy and experience. Our students and colleagues have all developed under his exceptional leadership.

Justin Merritt, Director of Velocity Football, was among those who paid tribute.

“We’ve lost a friend, a colleague, a great guy and an amazing coach,” said Justin. “Mickey coached thousands of people during his life and was an inspiration to all of us.

“He adored coaching and working with Velocity students who were all a massively important part of Mickey’s life. The important thing is that Mickey’s legacy plays on. He will always be part of the Velocity Football programme.”

A GoFundMe page has been published to support his wife Suzanne and young son Zach. Already, more than £21,000 has been raised.

If you would like to show your support and appreciation to Mickey and his family, you can visit the fundraising page here.

Mickey Lewis – forever in our hearts.

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