NIPPER SEASON 2018/19 – RECAP
As I sit down to write my annual Easter Haven Nippers report, the cooler & darker mornings have finally arrived, heralding the tail end of what has been another warm & wonderful summer season in The Haven. I am always grateful, at least in retrospect, to have a reason to pause & reflect on the season that has passed. Just like our lives in general, they seem to fly by, but always leave me feeling I want to come back for more next year.
I don’t think anyone takes on these sort of voluntary club roles knowing exactly what’s in store, or how long one will be in the role. Certainly for me at least, that was the case. In fact it kind of happened for me almost by mistake. I really just joined the Fairhaven Nipper crew as a helper. When our children first joined Nippers in 2009, Paul Shannon & Sara Miller were in charge & I was filled with admiration for them both. The year after we got involved, one of the Dads we knew from our children’s school, who was a life member at Fairhaven, took over from Paul. He’s a rather famous guy around the club by the name of Matthew Chun. He & Sara ran Nippers for 1 more season after Paul’s departure, but Sara was ready to hand on the mantle so Matthew knew he needed a quick succession plan. Somehow between his partner & my friend Rebecca, my name popped up & I found myself with a role & a title of Little Nipper.
7 seasons on & some things have changed, others have stayed the same. The big important things of course are all the same. Club numbers are steady or increasing & children & families still seem to embrace the concept of Nippers, despite the sometimes hectic nature of the program at the end of what for most of us, is a somewhat exhausting work & school year. The sun still sets in a glorious burst of colour over the hills above Lorne (& poor old Lorne still miss the said sunset every single time!). Matthew & I fairly quickly realised that “Big & Little” titles were perhaps a bit out dated & that a shared team approach was the way forward. (Or, maybe I’m just a terrible 2-IC). After 6 seasons in that shared role it was his turn for a break & so this season represented a new chapter, with Robyn Marshall joining me to run Nippers. To say it has been an easy & successful transition would be an understatement. Robyn has not only stepped into Chunny’s large surf skill shoes with ease, she has slotted into the team at large as if we’d been working together for years. Many people have asked if Robyn will “take over” from me. Rob was the perfect person to join me in the role, but our youngest children are the same age, U11 this past season, so we will work as a team & leave as a team in 2 seasons time. So we are looking for that “next generation” & feel confident we will find those people somewhere within our great club!
Now, back to the year that was…
Starting at the End with States…
The Nipper season has wound up a little earlier this season, with LSV making the decision to bring Junior States forward to the weekend of 23/24th February, which we feel has been a positive initiative for most of us. As many of you will have read in the recent newsletter, States were almost on home turf this season, in Lorne, which significantly reduced the logistic complexities for families in terms of accommodation & travel.
With U14 now joining the Senior / Youth division, we had a slightly smaller but still substantial team of 82 this year, from U9-U13.
A highlight was seeing Bron Cohens U13 boys group hit the sand together for the last time in Junior Competition. They have been a fiercely competitive, & very close group throughout the program, & much of this must be attributed to Bronwyn who has led the group all the way through from U6’s to U13’s. Parents & kids have bonded in such a way that it is quite clear that many a lifelong friendship has been formed.
A highlight at States was seeing U13 Darcy Winstanley awarded overall Best Beach Competitor, a high honour indeed from LSV. Well done Darce!!
The U13’s girls group also ended on a high with 10 girls competing for the club at States. Like the boys, they are a very close knit group, led this season by Markus Zeimer (Main) & Kath Cohen (Comp) & I think between the boys & girls in that age group, we will see a very healthy contingent of new lifeguards hitting the beach over the next couple of seasons.
Main Nipper Season
The main Nipper season was lots of fun, busy as always, with plenty of new families to help keep me on my toes in terms of name / face recognition!
Some of those new faces stepped in as AGMs, notably Penny & John Middenway, which is a huge effort for a first season, so a big thanks to both of you. We also had 3 very familiar faces joining or returning to the fold in Nancy Joseph & Bruce & Kath Cohen.
We get a lot of feedback about the quality of people in the program & if there is 1 thing, after all my years involved in the program to be proud of, that is it. The specialist coaches & AGM’s are amazing. Their skill set & what they bring in terms of leadership, really is what makes the program as successful as it is. A parent approached me on the beach this season, who is also a member of a Sydney northern beaches club. She was blown away by the quality of the coaching at Fairhaven, not having come across anything quite like it. Coaches who could actually make a difference, irrespective of a child’s abilities, so that each child could leave a session with a sense of achievement, whether that meant catching a monster wave back to the sand or just getting their toes wet.
Every season, the depth of parental involvement if also a big highlight. So many people doing their bit to make the giant machine that is Nippers, turn its season cogs. Thank you all!
Without water safety we literally can’t run the program, so it’s hard to over emphasize the importance of the Bronze/SRC parents & siblings who support this aspect of the program.
This season Noel Duncan took over as Head of Water Safety & the program ran, is his hands, somewhat like a Suisse watch. A much deserved recipient of Nipper Parent of The Year, we just can’t thank you enough Noel. Noel was supported by Ed & Scott in the boat once again (one day we might buy those two a cape!) as well as a band of truly extraordinary teen water safety who possibly are the greatest unsung hero’s of the whole program, These are 14 & 15 year old kids, on holidays, who day after day, turned up, wetsuit & high vis hand to spend 2 hours with a tube or a board, making sure every child who entered the water came out safely, You all know who you are & we all owe you a huge debt of gratitude.
Membership & Admin
It’s hard to really quantify how much Nicole Clarke has done to support the club this season in terms of admin support, particularly relating to membership renewals. As anyone who has had dealings with her would know, she’s a yes person, “yes I can do that or yes I can find someone else who can”. Not surprisingly, she has had, & continues to have, a hugely positive influence on the club.
Club Champions 2018/19
Nipper U13 Encouragement Awards: Lucca Trigg & Mac Marshall
Nipper Parents of The Year: Noel Duncan
Speaking of massive contributors, I must mention a very special Nipper Dad called Marcus Marshall. The man is a superstar. If he had a dollar for every board he has stacked, every kilometre he has towed that (thanks to him newly configured) Nipper trailer he could retire young & we all owe him a huge debt of gratitude.
Similarly, Chloe Hardman who is VP of Sport & her husband James Cornwell. They out in so much time in terms of coaching, officiating & gear management just to name a few! They only have 1 year left in the Junior Program & will leave very big shoes to fill!
This season we had a huge top up in terms of equipment with the purchase of 20 new foam & 10 fibre nippers boards, with costs shared between the club & The Tim Gates Foundation. Tim would, I feel sure, be very proud of this investment in his honour & we thank the Gates family & Foundation for their generous support.
A huge thankyou again to our major sponsor, Clarendon Lawyers. Also to Chris Richards for helping me again with production & logistics of Nipper gear. Our sponsors come from within our Nipper Community & dig deep each year to help us with gear & equipment costs, for which we are hugely grateful.
Well that’s it from me for another season, wishing you all a wonderful remainder of 2019, keep swimming & paddling & I hope to see around the Haven during the year.