UEL Volleyball Recruits National Team Coaches

After the surprise departure of UEL Volleyball Coach, Simon Loftus, just before the festive period, UEL Sports have now recruited his successors: Jefferson Williams and Ian Legrand. Lane Dias reports.

Williams is the former Head Coach of the England Senior Women’s side. He went to the London 2012 Olympics as part of the coaching staff, and is currently head coach of Malory Eagles Volleyball Club in the Super 8 division.

Legrand is the Head Coach of Great Britain’s Women’s Paralympic Team, and former coach of London Docklands, also competing in the Super 8 League. Williams and Legrand have worked together before and will be reunited at UEL for the rest of the season.

Winning Ways

Loftus led the side to the 2016 BUCS Premier South title and departed with the women sitting second in the table on 18 points. American recruit, Aubrie Cresswell, joined the UEL programme after buying into Loftus’ coaching philosophy, but despite her disappointment, she suggested that the new coaches can help the team continue his legacy and carry on with their winning ways.

“I think Jeff and Ian are really good technical coaches, when it comes to technique, they will do a good job of drilling us. I also think it could be good, like a fresh start, we had a really good season in the fall, and I think that’s going to roll over. These coaches are going to make it really easy for that to happen,” Cresswell said.

Loftus also took UEL to the Final 8s BUCS, where they lost to Northumbria University in the semi-finals. Asked whether the side have the capabilities to win the competition this season, Cresswell explained that she didn’t know what to expect but that the side have the credentials to go far.

Limitations

“I actually don’t know much about the Final 8s because I wasn’t here last year, so I don’t necessarily know what to expect or what it’s like, but I think that we can go far, I don’t think we should set limitations,” she said.

Coach Legrand shared Cresswell’s opinions. “I think we’re in a nice position in that we can surprise people, so I’d rather be in the position we’re in where we’re coming in on the rails and we’ll surprise a few I think.”

UEL must adapt to being coached by two coaches, having been accustomed to one coach in Loftus, but Legrand insisted this wouldn’t affect the team and was instead optimistic about the side learning from himself and Williams.

“Jeff is a very experienced coach, we’ve worked together before at club level and National team level, so we’ve worked together and we’ve known each other a long time, we work in the same way. I think we’ve both got different skills which can hopefully enhance the situation.”

‘A few dodgy ones’

Legrand brings a wealth of experience to the side. Asked if he had spotted any potential stars in the UEL side, he joked ‘There’s a few dodgy ones,’ but was confident that the side possesses a wealth of quality and explained the importance of his role as a coach to nurture these players.

“I think there are some good individuals and our job is to make sure we can get the best out of them as a group. I think there’s a few things that we can do to enhance the group. Physically and technically it’s a good group as long as they don’t set limitations on themselves and enjoy the journey,” Legrand added.

UEL’s Women’s First Team get back underway for their first fixture of 2017 against Oxford University at SportsDock on the 25th January.