This weekend 40 Cheetahs players and coaches from our Under 19 Squad attended the Newland Academy in Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire, for the club’s inaugural training camp. From Friday through Sunday evening, players were put through their paces mentally and physically.
The Cheetahs kicked off Friday night with an introduction to camp, and to the season, from third year Head Coach Alex Halms. Following a screening of NFL Network’s “America’s Game: The 2001 New England Patriots”, the players headed to their dorms, new playbooks in hand.
Saturday morning started bright and early. An opening presentation on strength, conditioning, nutrition and training by S&C Coach Chris Halms was followed by a hugely energetic combine. Despite the truly awful weather, the Cheetahs stayed on schedule, kept their heads up and performed.
By midday, Offensive and Defensive install was underway, and Indys had kept the Cheetahs dedicated positional coaches busy. Lunch was followed by two and a half hours of Kick Off and Punt – led by STC and Cheetah Legend, Coach Norm Bradford and ST Assistant Coordinator and DL Coach Andy Dickins.
Saturday evening saw the Cheetahs back in the gym – walking through the new O and D. Dinner was followed by a screening of College Football Saturday, and a welcome chance for players and coaches to interact and build up the camaraderie that underpins the Cheetahs as a ball club.
Sunday morning, 6AM, that camaraderie was put to the test with a team run of the Academy’s beautiful grounds. Coaches and players fronted up to the inclement weather, showing the motivation and resolve which the club hopes will come out in the fourth quarter down the stretch. Breakfast was followed by install, Indys and a return to Special Teams – this time Kick Off and Punt Return.
By 2pm, the Cheetahs were down to scrimmage – with the weekend’s work laid bare for the attendees to see. Smothering defence, the hallmark of the Cheetahs 2016/17 season, continued to play out. Rookie phenom Jack Preece and veteran Ed Hollis led an impenetrable defence through the first couple of series. However, under the leadership of QB’s Ollie Mulcahy and Liam MacGovern, the Offence began to click – making yards and scores on a D that, by all accounts, looks even better than the dominant unit of a year ago.
The Cheetahs were called together one final time at 4pm for a feedback and debrief session. The weekend having flown by, the Coaches had the following to say on their weekend away and their squad for the upcoming season:
Defensive Coordinator Sam Oswald: “I just couldn’t believe how committed and focused the players were from the first minute to the last. Without getting hopes up too much, this unit is already playing above their playoff level from a year ago. And the regular season is five months away. I can’t wait to clip on those lids in April. This squad is special.”
Assistant Head Coach Chris Cameron: “The D goes from strength to strength. The O is a new animal from a season ago. OC Rich Moult has the weapons and strategy to support his diverse attack. Special teams continue to lead the nation in quality and execution at the U19 level. Our factory of football has never been more productive.”
Head Coach Alex Halms: “This camp was everything I hoped for and more. There is nothing more satisfying than watching young players take a theory, learn it, then implement it. We grew so much as a club and as a squad this weekend. I’m just so proud of all my players and coaches. From where we started, to where we are, the development is unprecedented. Heaven help anyone who tries to get in our way this season. I’m insatiably excited.”
Camp Defensive MVP: Patryk Cwiertnia (LB) [3YR]
Camp Offensive MVP: Declan Gleghorn (WR) [Rookie]
Camp Positional MVPs: THE LINE
Callum Cocks (LT) [Rookie], Billy Ray (C) [3YR], Alfie Nash (DL/FB) [2YR], Byron Kealy (DL) [3YR], Bryce Brandon (DL) [Rookie], Marcin Kurek (DL) [Rookie].
A huge thank you to all the parents, players, coaches, committee members and Newland Academy staff who made this weekend possible.
Two things are for sure: the Cheetahs will be better for this experience and we’ll be back next year.
Inspired? Interested in joining our squads at any age or level? Drop us a line and speak to our dedicated coaches and committee.