Congratulations Neil Stephenson – South Yorkshire Sport Shining Light 2014
Nominated by South Yorkshire Sport, Neil is being passed on the baton by 2013 Shining Light David Anderson.
Neil is the Head Coach at Adwick Swimming Club, where this year to mark their 40 year anniversary they are running a Community Games event to celebrate this great landmark with their club members, friends, family and the local community.
Neil has played an active role in organising the event whilst still fulfilling his role of head coach of the club. Neil has also arranged for Olympic Swimmer Joanne Jackson to visit the event and help teach and coach the children. Neil has also helped organise the 40 year 40 charities events, where the local community have nominated charities and Neil and the club have organised events to help support these charities.
Neil has been volunteering at Adwick for ten years, first as an assistant coach and then in October 2008 he took over as head coach when the previous coach retired. Since this time the club has gone from strength to strength, winning many league competitions and taking top club at several open galas.
A large part of the club’s success lies with Neil and his amazing support in both teaching and coaching. The club provides swimming at all levels to an area North West of Doncaster, and has around 340 members, ranging from children just learning to swim at our teaching sessions to competitive squad training. Many of of the club’s children have qualified and won medals at county and regional level, often due to the support from Neil. Adwick is run on a completely voluntary basis, and this includes Neil, who puts in 11 hours each week in direct teaching and coaching. With preparation and other administrative work he is easily devoting 20 hours per week to the club. He does this while holding down a full time job, and also being a husband and a father to four children.
One of his children, who is a club swimmer, was diagnosed with diabetes two years ago, and despite the issues this has caused, Neil still puts 110% into the club. His daughter is also still training and competing, in part due to the amazing support she receives from her Dad. There are plenty of individuals who commit their time in a similar way, so you might ask what is so special about Neil? Neil has a passion for the club and it’s swimmers. He works hard to get the best out of every child within the club. His dedication and support to each and every swimmer means that at Adwick consider themselves to be a family.
Neil’s support also extends to the parents of the club’s swimmers, and he is committed to encouraging every child to do their best, whether that is winning a medal in a top competition, managing to get a personal best in a time trial or simply being able to swim a length of the pool in lessons. He has a fantastic manner with children of all ages, and seems to know just what to do and say to get the best out of everyone. He has been seen with three and four year olds in the club’s teaching sessions, easily coaxing them into the pool in their first session with his relaxed and encouraging manner. In the older age groups, where discipline could be a problem, he is able to be firm but seen to be fair and the kids have an amazing amount of respect for him. Inevitably, with competitive training there are injuries and disappointments for swimmers, and again Neil not only supports the swimmers during these times but actively ensures that they know he will support them all the way.
Quite simply Neil gives his all to the club and Adwick is the success it is today due to his leadership. Adwick ASC would not be in the position it is in if it wasn’t for Neil. He is an inspiring teacher and coach and supports each and every member of the club. He not only spends time talking to and supporting swimmers, but also takes time to talk to parents about any issues and developments. He dedicates a significant amount of time to the running of the club, and all on a voluntary basis. Neil is very modest, and would down play the attributes listed above, but he truly deserves the recognition for the work he puts into the club. Quite simply Neil is Adwick ASC.
Commenting on his involvement with Community Games and his voluntary work in the club, Neil commented, “It is a major milestone for Adwick ASC and I wanted everyone that had been involved in with the club past and present to celebrate this massive achievement along with the local community.
With over 350 members from in and around the community we felt as a club that we could organise a fun event in the day for all. I arranged for Olympic Swimmer Joanne Jackson to visit the club and help teach and coach the children.
With the help of the committee we have organised events in our family room for friends, family and the local community to participate in. As it is our 40th anniversary we have decided to give something back to the community and have, since January been fund raising. We have named it 40 Years 40 charities. Club members and the community have nominated 40 charities and we have been and are busily organising events and fund-raising to help support these charities. We will split the total raised this year between the charities. This has taken quite a bit of organising but I have been and still am amazed by the positive response from all. I am very proud of Adwick ASC and hope the club have many more successful years.