Meet the Interns: Evangeline Collier, Table Tennis, England

Name: Evangeline (Evie) Collier

“My goal is to see players inspired to excel and to love playing …”

 

Sport: Table Tennis

Mentor Coach: Alan Cooke

Country: England

Games Responsibilities: Evie will be the assistant coach for the women’s table tennis team. Her presence will enable a more individualized approach to be taken within the team as the lead coach can work more specifically with the two leading payers while Evie support the remaining two players. This is especially important during preparation for team matches when only three of the four players will play. She will coach the players during the early rounds of the singles and doubles tournaments when more than one player is playing at different times.

Current Occupation: Full-time coach, Nottingham Centre for Excellence with Coach Chris Turner

Athletic Background: Evie started playing table tennis at the age of seven as a school sport. She loved it and wanted to keep improving. She was inspired by the challenge of learning new skills and developing to reach her goals of playing for England and Great Britain.

Coaching: Although she still plays, Evie now wants to “give back”. She was well-supported when she first started playing and feels she can help future players to develop. Currently, she receives support from Table Tennis England as well as from regional and national coaches. Her goal is for players to be inspired to excel and to love playing and for herself, to coach up to the international levels. She points to a lack of recognition and a lack of opportunities as issues women coaches face. Evie stays connected through social media and platforms such as YouTube to gain insights from other coaches as well as to share improvement.

Education: UKCC Table Tennis Level One (close to completion)

Importance of the WCIP: “ … a fantastic opportunity to develop my knowledge, understanding, and ideas of what an effective international coach is. I can’t wait to make the most of the opportunity. I am excited to be able to observe and learn from others to develop my own coaching values. It is extremely important to my career to be mentored. Shared experiences can further develop my own coaching understanding. Using a wide range of networks has been so important in my career so far and developing these can further enhance my coaching value. These are my first Games and I feel so honoured to be part of it … it is a dream come true.”

After Gold Coast: Evie plans to coach more competitions and training camps, but will also develop the club players she works with on a weekly basis. She has a strong interest in helping another woman coach. “There is such a need for women coaches to empower women athletes.” Evie will continue her role with the England Youth Squad, and the WCIP will continue for 12 months post-Games to ensure she maximises her learning. She will present her experiences to coach education workshops to assist her in compiling the key messages and impacts on her coaching from the WCIP experience. She will be supported through her UKCC Level Two and Level Three.  

Commonwealth Connections: “The Modern Commonwealth consists of countries that together share aspirations, values, and goals for peace … it is the strongest it has ever been and is continuing to develop. It reflects diversity of cultures and celebrates difference and acceptance. The Commonwealth Sport Movement shares values and principles that protect human rights. Sport can do so much for a community and provides an inspiring legacy through the Commonwealth Games, which are an incredible opportunity to create partnerships while engaging generations.”

 

Meet the Mentor

Name: Alan Cooke       

“I wanted to stay involved in table tennis and coaching was something I’d always done (and enjoyed) as a means to initially fund my playing career.”

Sport: Table Tennis

Country: England

Current Occupation: Alan is the England Head Coach, British Olympic Team Coach, and the most experienced and qualified coach in Great Britain table tennis.

Athletic History: Alan played professionally up to the age of 31 and was a top-30 player. He coached the national team for several years before resuming a playing career for a further four years. He retired after the 2006 Commonwealth Games at the age of 40.

Coaching History: Alan worked with the women’s programme for four years leading to and including London 2012 and understands elite table tennis. After 2012 he took over as men’s coach up to and including Rio 2016. He is renowned across the globe as a quality coach, leading the England men in 2016 to their first world championship medal in 3 years. He was nominated as Coach of the Year by the International Table Tennis Federation in 2016.

Education: Alan is an intricate part of the education team, leading and directing much of the coach education programme across Great Britain.

Quote re WCIP: Alan became involved in the WCIP because his sport and Performance Team are keen to include and promote women coaches. “It is our hope that Evie will enjoy the experience and develop her knowledge and confidence whilst working alongside the national team players and staff. The role of the mentor is to help develop the young coach to work with teams and individuals in a stressful environment. And absolutely, I consider coaching to be a viable career for women. Barriers include being more male dominant, the lack of coaching jobs currently available, and the unsociable working hours, which means that work/family balance is challenging.” Alan suggests that a typical coaching pathway can come following a relatively successful playing career. Another way is to work through the coaching system, including with national coaches in various programmes to gain valuable experience.

Commonwealth Connections: “The Commonwealth Games provide an inclusive and friendly atmosphere, whilst maintaining its high-quality status as a multi-sport Games. I am just as proud to be involved in the 2018 Games as I was in my first, this being my fifth.”