In 2003 an exciting journey began for me when I qualified as a Level II Table Tennis coach over at Stowmarket TTC. It was always something that I wanted to do and I had been helping John Andrews and 'Big' Alan Burgess down at Wilson Marriage School in Colchester.
We were moving to Rowhedge TTC and we wanted to start some Junior Coaching, we had had some success at Wilson Marriage with a great set of Juniors and Cadets.
Rowhedge was a real chance to build a squad of players that could represent Rowhedge, Colchester, maybe even Essex and what a rollercoaster ride we went on, we built numerous squads as we progressed and tried hard with the resources that we had to develop every players that came to use to their maximum ability but Table Tennis isn’t just about….playing table tennis… there is so much more, friendships, rivalries, teamwork and always being there for the other squad members. We had Darius Knight down to visit us… what a great day that was and will ALWAYS be in my memory. We had Table Tennis England down, Sport England, This Girl Can with Lauren James and the place was buzzing…. every squad that came out of Rowhedge won Essex Town Team events and participated in National Junior and Cadet League.
Work and ‘life’ took me to a place where I couldn’t give everything to the club but in 2016 I decided to make Table Tennis my main focus and became a Professional Coach. Working with a number of clubs in Colchester and Essex in group sessions and in 121 work built up and at Tollgate TTC we embarked to do the same again and built a few squads that, again, were competing at the top of their game, we have National Table Tennis Days, we had Colchester Legends like Dave Cole, Dave Moss and John Andrews down to help when they could, again we built a club that was buzzing and super successful and it helped to push Colchester to the heights in Essex Table Tennis.
Building teams that want to work for each other, to push one another is something that I have always love… so too is seeing the progression of individuals through 121 sessions and the excitement of seeing something work that hadn’t before.
Don’t get me wrong I have felt let down by people who I didn’t think I ever would, I have also been uplifted by people who have always backed me and my ideas for the progression of Table Tennis Coaching… but the time is right for me to step aside, COVID-19 has made me re-evaluate things and for the first time in 5 years…. Im not injured, I can walk an 18 hole golf course… something I haven’t been able to do for a long time. I sometimes think that I played too much in coaching and maybe should have sat on the sidelines telling people what to do… but it isn’t me I am afraid… I was too passionate about playing to get the progress for the player.
I have a few coaches to thank along the way, John Andrews, Alan Burgess, Martin Edwards, Roger Hance, George Earle, Darius Knight, Eli Baraty, Gracie Edwards, Pawel Szmero, Jason Sugrue and lastly Mick Buckley…sadly missed by all at Rowhedge.
Hope that "Riks Top Table" continues for all you coaches that borrowed it and always remember my "5 Fs of FOCUS" in Table Tennis.
Thanks for all the support over the years and I have loved my time coaching each and everyone of you. Maybe one day I'll be back.... never say never...
So back to the day job at Creative Fabrik, always happy to help if you have a table tennis question...
Last thing.... The Table Tennis was ALWAYS a blast but when you see all those players in all those different squads, some not playing the sport anymore all still out and about together in their lives, 5, 10, 15 years later... it makes you realise that all those years were, maybe, not JUST about the Table Tennis...