Thorp Academy

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Thorp aims to produce top netballers

NETBALL is on the rise at Thorp Academy - with a big help from two coaches keen to develop the next generation on court.

NETBALL is on the rise at Thorp Academy – with a big help from two coaches keen to develop the next generation on court.

Two PE teachers at the Ryton secondary school and sixth form, Fern Coulson and Danielle Smith, have played since childhood and reached high levels.

Now they are looking to promote the sport within Thorp and have already spotted bags of potential.

Year 11 students Georgia Kendall, 16, and Ellie Gardner, 15, are two of the brightest prospects having progressed from Ryton to Tyne & Wear district.

The hope is that Thorp’s Elite Performer Programme can help more follow their lead and there is an aim to produce players for national level.

Miss Smith had 12 months in the Team Northumbria Super League squad, was part of the England pool of players from the age of 12-19 and was British Colleges’ captain for two years. She is currently sidelined through injury from playing in the Premiership with Hartlepool’s Oaksway.

She said: “At the moment I am working with the Year 8s at Thorp, helping out wherever I can. It’s nice to see the raw talent here and the progress being made.

“They have to show me what they can do and it will test me as a coach to see how we can bring them on. They are great children here and a number of them are more than capable of being on the EPP if they can work hard.”

Miss Coulson has coached for five years at Thorp, where she started her own Ryton Junior Netball Club. She is also playing regional standard for Greencroft and represented Durham as a centre.

The 2017 coach of the year, awarded for all of her efforts, said: “Ellie Gardner and Georgia Kendall have played with me from Year 7, the basics, and I took them to my club to get extra training, now they are at county standard.

“In the future I want to have more students go through to county level and then on to England pathway. We haven’t had one before for netball from Thorp.

“This year I have had a lot of transition from Year 6 to Year 7 and hopefully next year will be the year. That would be fantastic. I am proud of what I have done so far but I want that to continue.”