A life in the week of David Byas, director of sport at Pocklington School in York
6am. Insanity max 30 here we come. Cardio challenge is order of the day. This is my time and I love the variation and intensity before the week starts in earnest. I am heading off to Leeds Met for the national U14 girls hockey competition for the day and so, after an early start and a hearty breakfast, I am in the office for 7.45am. The staff room on a Monday morning is always a hive of discussion. Staff are vying for coach of the week from Saturday’s results and much good humour and banter is shared widely. Away from there, Saturday registers to gather, absentees are to be chased up, tutors informed, packed lunches require gathering, medical bag, balls and directions are in hand, all for a prompt leave at 9am with the U14 girls. They have had a tough start to their season and confidence is not very high. But on arrival at the bus you would not believe this as voices are loud and they all seem in great spirits after the weekend. We arrive in the pouring rain and the forecast is for it to rain all day. Not a great start for the girls. First game is Barnard Castle. We drew with them earlier in the year and proceed to do the same this time round. After a ten minute break of trying to get everyone warm and dry, the girls face Leeds Grammar, a formidable team. We concede an early goal. The girls fight valiantly to try and equalize but unfortunately run out of time and lose the game 1-0. After a much-needed break to dry out, get warm and have some lunch, our final match is against Macmillan Academy. We are playing to avoid the wooden spoon and so need energy levels high. The girls play with spirit winning 4-2. Pride restored. After the euphoria of the final victory, we arrived back to Pocklington for the end of school. The team are delighted to be able to get home and get warm and dry. We finish fifth on the day, which for the girls is a huge triumph. To be present and able to share their excitement is what this job is all about and gives me great satisfaction. Home for shower, some warmth, dinner, and a cold one with the family. Just 47 emails to trawl through…
I am out of the house early in readiness for my weekly meeting with the head at 8am who provides me with an opportunity to share with him the weekend’s results and performances over the whole school. We had a challenging weekend with the senior rugby and hockey teams, which provided a raised eye-brow. Thankfully this is mitigated with some fine results lower down in both sports. Also the news that Millie Barnes has been selected for the U16 national training squad is a real tonic. Meetings take up much of the morning, Mrs Val French is seeking support on a leadership camp in March. I also meet each graduate once a week to reflect on their contributions within the community and then all games registers are to be printed in readiness for the middle school afternoon games session. My final meeting before lunch is with the deputy head. It is that time of year when I have to justify the apparent overspend in the sports department. I may need another meeting. The afternoon is taken up assisting the U15 girl’s hockey squad with the focus of the session to be more ruthless in front of goal. After much discussion and direction from the group, real strides are taken. Bring on Ampleforth on Saturday. Following the U15s, the girls’ 1st XI have their final warm-up before travelling tomorrow to play Sedburgh. Excellent organization to meet them half way. It is a real bonus for both schools and allows us the opportunity to play a school we would not normally have the time to do so. Having suffered a humiliating defeat on Saturday, it is refreshing to see the group out early and wanting to get down to some hard work. We have an excellent session with plenty of spirit and I can only hope that it has the desired effect tomorrow. Floodlights off, generator off and a dark drive home. These dark winter nights have come in quickly. My wife Rach is home on my return and we are able to share the day's events over dinner before I begin to trawl through the endless emails that have gathered through the afternoon.
Another brisk start to the day as Wednesday mornings are divisional school assemblies. Every week we share vocally the week’s sports results across the entire community. House prefects deliver team reports to each assembly and I have the honour of presenting trophies or accolades to the high achievers. This morning we are sharing the equestrian success over half term and the excellent news of our recent junior hockey international. I always meet the groundsman and head of games from the prep school on Wednesday morning. It allows us all an opportunity to plan for the weekend, prepare for the week’s fixtures and try to avoid an clashes. Shortly after lunch, the 1st XV rugby side are travelling to Silcoates for their next round of the Nat West Trophy and the 1st XI girls’ hockey team are travelling to play Sedburgh, I shall look forward to positive results this evening. Because the 1st XI are away this afternoon, the extra pitch space will allow me an opportunity to see how the senior boys’ hockey squad is shaping up as they will join the senior girls on the astro turf. We prepare well, then play a mixed game and both boys and the girls play with great pace and spirit. I leave with plenty of optimism for the coming Lent term. What we may lack in finesse we will make up with desire. Home for dinner at around 6pm, put feet up, enjoy a cold one and start to plan for the following evening’s cricket academy session. After a couple of late texts, I receive some great news. Both the 1st XV and 1st XI beat Silcoates and Sedburgh respectively. I will raise another cold one for both Sean, Charlotte and both of the teams.
A slightly more relaxed approach to school this morning albeit following another beasting with cardio challenge. No meetings this morning so Thursday gives me a chance to get to grips with any outstanding emails, any general concerns and also to organize and plan all the transport and food arrangements for all the sports and fixtures through each week as I try and plan a week ahead each time. We have just four hockey fixtures this afternoon – the U12/U13 A and Bs against Hill House. With a late staff absence, we are forced into having to adjust our staffing. I am tasked with taking the remaining first and second year girls. What a very willing and eager group. Both the U13s enjoy success but unfortunately the U12a team are beaten. The Bs make amends with a 4-2 victory. The after-school session allows the U15 girls a final opportunity to prepare for their visit to Ampleforth at the weekend. A quick turnaround from the astro turf at 4.45pm allows me the chance to get to the sports hall for the first of two of my own academy evenings of cricket preparation. Coaching with me, I have Will Rhodes, the current Yorkshire player, Jonny Wheeler, a current graduate student and Ben Byas, last year’s 1st XI wicket keeper, all working with 20 first year boys. The David Byas Cricket Academy (DBCA) was set up seven years ago to create an opportunity to inspire students to heighten their awareness of their performance to accelerate their learning process in not only cricket but hockey and rugby. I also run one on a Friday evening and on both evenings I am able to see at close quarters young lads develop their skill sets and in such good, esteemed company. Home for 7.30pm, dinner, endless emails and then bed.
The U18 girls are competing in the schools national hockey tournament today. We are hosting this at Pocklington and so don’t have to worry about transport or an early leave. However there is a lot to do before I am able to relax and support Charlotte and the girls. Up against Leeds Grammer and Egglescliffe, we are beaten by Leeds but perform well against Egglescliffe to set up a winner takes all game with St Peter’s. Unfortunately this is just out of our grasp and disappointingly the girls are beaten 2-0 to take fourth place out of the six teams. I manage an hour back in the office gathering all team sheets for tomorrow's fixtures against Hymers at rugby and Ampleforth for the hockey. These are all entered onto the system for tomorrow's registration. Final checks on food and transport arrangements and then off to the hall for my second cricket academy group of the week. These boys are slightly older than the previous evening’s group and as such we lift the tempo accordingly. The same coaching team are working with the boys to manipulate and play the ball off the front foot, hitting through mid-on, mid-off and straight. Four bowling machines allow quality feeds and we have an excellent session. Home for 7.30pm, dinner, a cold one and put the feet up before tomorrow's fixtures.
I have studied the weather, packed another set of clothing and I am heading to Pocklington expecting the worst. Heavy rain is expected from lunchtime onwards. All registers are completed and displayed. A map of the grounds is adjusted to show which pitches the respective teams are all playing on. Changing rooms for the visiting teams are opened. Final meeting with the assistant groundsman for any late problems and a quick chat with the nurses allows me to rest knowing that everything is in place for the afternoon’s activities and fixtures. We are hosting six rugby matches and six hockey matches on site and have four rugby and hockey matches away. I am travelling away to Ampleforth to firstly umpire the U14 girls’ hockey and then coach and manage my own U15 girls’ team. We all observe a minute’s silence in respect of the horrific actions we have all witnessed in Paris. What terrible scenes. As I blow the whistle to start the first game at 2pm, I feel the first drops of rain. Somehow I do not think these will be the last. Two and a half hours later, I am wet through, with a loss and a draw. The U14s lose while the U15s fight back three times to draw in a tight game. It’s been a busy day and some late texts allow me an opportunity to relax and celebrate some excellent results across both sports. And at last we have beaten the All Blacks…in rugby league at least.
After a hectic week, I try to make it as much of a family day as I can. Georgia is playing hockey for Wakefield. They have a home game at College Grove hosting Liverpool and this is a great opportunity to go and watch and pick up any new ideas in the game. All the customary Sunday jobs done (cooked breakfast and cleaning the cars) both Rach, Ben and I head off to watch. A scrappy game but one that Wakefield win 1-0 with Georgia converting the only goal. Rach and I recently celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary and today our children team up together to take us all to watch the new Bond movie Spectre after the game. Olivia joins us there and we round of the week in fine style. TGI Fridays for a full rack of ribs and dad gets stung for the bill. Some things never change but a great way to finish the week.
A LIFE IN THE WEEK OF