Ultimate Coach Interview: Richard Hobs

 You were one of the first coaches in one of the first schools that UCC started coaching back in 2010. Tell us a little about it.
In 2009 UCC had a tough loss in the intervarsities final and to be honest it was the greatest thing that ever happened to Cork ultimate because from that disappointment that squad of players went on the spend the next few years not only determined to win inter-varsities but to do whatever we could to improve ultimate in Cork as a whole.

My good friend and housemate at the time Ray Considine became captain the following year and one thing he did was find out from the college which schools were the biggest feeders for UCC. He pretty much worked his way down the list, getting in contact with a number of PE departments and over the next 12 months or so people like Donal Murray, myself and many others got involved in running training sessions and workshops in several schools throughout the city and county. Obviously it took off a little more in some schools than others but overall it was a great success and a brilliant time to be involved in ultimate in Cork

How long had you been playing when you decided to start coaching?

I started playing in 2007 so about two and a half years or so.

What made you want to start coaching?

To begin with I was totally driven by the prospect of improving UCC. I loved the idea of “beginners” turning up to sessions the following September who already knew how to play the sport and were ready to begin challenging for a spot on the first team. As time went on I began to see the benefits of schools coaching beyond harvesting potential UCC players. Rebel ultimate was in its embryonic stages at the same time and schools coaching coinciding with the emergence of a Cork based club team meant that there were increasing opportunities for people to be involved in the sport in Cork.

While I was extremely passionate about UCC I always felt as though ultimate needed to branch out and make itself accessible to a wider audience because at the time I feared that it was at risk of becoming a kind of university elitist sport. Thankfully, I don’t think that has happened, largely thanks to people throughout the country who have got involved in coaching in schools or opening up club sessions to beginners.

Did you know then you were coaching future UCC players, coaches and captains and so many international athletes?

I certainly hoped we were coaching future UCC players, coaches and captains and as the talent of some of the players became obvious I was pretty sure that that was what we were doing. When we started I could never have imagined that there would be so many who would go on to represent Ireland. It was great that we were able to get an Irish junior girls team together in 2011, which was largely made up of those Cork based players whom we had all coached. Showing them the opportunities that a sport like ultimate can give them at such an early stage I think inspired a lot of them to stick with the sport.

What was your favourite memory of coaching the first year in Colaiste Choilm.

Being able to step back and watch a normal game of ultimate unfold, with players confidently  making calls, understanding the rules and implementing basic strategies. That was probably the most pleasing part throughout my entire time coaching in schools.

After coaching in Colaiste Choilm for a year you then went to teach and coach in BCS, how did the two schools compare?

BCS was a bit different because I became a more familiar face as I was doing my teaching practice there at the time. The squad of players that BCS had that year (2012-13) was so good! There were so many athletes who have gone on rack up lots of international appearances since. Winning the indoor schools title that year was great because that squad of players really deserved it. They had worked so hard all year long.

Is there anything looking back now you wish you could have done differently?

I wish I could have coached them all how to throw pitch length hucks. Thankfully a lot of them learned how to do that without my expert advice anyway 😉

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about coaching in schools?

Be approachable for students, be professional around staff and begin by making it as simple as possible. Allow people to make mistakes and don’t get too caught up in the rules early on. Allow people to have fun running, catching and throwing and they’ll come back to learn the rules the following week.

Anything to add?

If you’ve benefited from having been coached when you were in school make an effort to go back and get involved in doing some coaching yourself – you’ll love it and students will really appreciate it. Also, a massive well done to everyone who’s still involved in schools coaching in Cork. It’s great to hear such positive news every time I check in on how things are going. Keep it up!