LFL360.com, Michael McGill
A Champion team is not built overnight. You do not just turn up on day one and become the best. First you need a squad of players who all bring something different to the table. Then they need to be coached by the right type of people, and they need a home ground that becomes a fortress.
The New South Wales Surge have those characteristics, and they are heading in the right direction. Last week they held their final open trials with over seventy girls vying for a coveted spot on the squad. LFL Commissioner Mitch Mortaza was on hand in Dundas Valley to help the Surge coaches unearth any new talent that stood out on the day.
Every girl from the current squad was put through their paces along with those trialling for the first time. Current Surge member Stephanie Boyldew commented “It was awesome to see so many girls turn up ready to work hard for their chance to join the team. There were great levels of aggression and determination, this group meant business and pushed through the heat to get through every drill with intensity.”
The girls were put through several different drills and routes to ascertain which position would best suit them. The competition was fierce, and not one girl took a backward step once they walked onto the playing field.
When asked about the quality of the athletes who turned up to trial, Coach Jason Gaffey remarked, “I was surprised at the raw athleticism, to be honest; good speed, good hands, girls that have never played the game who can be coached up to be good athletes and players.”
After three hours of intense physical exertion the athletes were brought together, and thirty-six numbers were called out as the final New South Wales Surge squad was announced. The majority of the current squad made it through along with eight new recruits. Step one was now complete.
To celebrate this occasion the Surge girls attended the Australian LFL Launch Party later that night in Sydney along with players from the other three teams; Western Australia Angels, Queensland Brigade and Victoria Maidens. A great night was had by all as the girls mingled with fans and interstate players to help launch what is sure to be the big sporting story this summer.
The second step in this new beginning has been an ongoing affair as NSW coaches Teren Tan and Jason Gaffey have been working on plays and routes for well over six months now. They know the game of gridiron quite well now and have a real affinity in coaching women athletes.
When you speak with the girls they have nothing but kind words for the coaches and assistants. Alison Laws commented, “They are focusing on highlighting our great performances in each rep. They make sure that we know when we do well, and boy, they get excited. I can see their real exhilaration when they have taught a play, a step, a catch, a block and we get it right. We perform. Coach Gaff and coach Teren are great at coaching as they too are evolving with the women of the Gridiron.”
Step Two is a continual work in progress and well underway.
The icing on the cake came the very next day when Mitch Mortaza announced that Skoda Stadium at the Sydney Olympic Park Precinct had been chosen as the new home ground for the Surge. At the 2000 Sydney Olympics it was the home of the Baseball games, and more recently it became home to the Greater Western Sydney Giants in the Australian Football League. The elegant grandstand and tiered grass banks provide ample seating for spectators. The main stand is a two-level, high-tech design with fantastic views of the ground. From the top of the stand, views of the city skyline can be seen in the distance. With a capacity of 25,000 the “Surge Stadium” will surely become a daunting destination for any visiting team. Step Three was now complete.
It is now up to the squad and coaches to take the New South Wales Surge to the highest level in the Australian Legends Football League and create what many believe could very well become a Dynasty.
LA Temptation player Chloe Butler regularly trains with the Surge girls when she is back home in Australia. She had this to say about the Surge, “The thing about becoming a great team is that you must be coachable. That means willing to listen and apply what a coach tells you to do. The Surge girls will create a dynasty in the Australian LFL because of this. The girls have taken on and applied with 100% the basic fundamentals of Gridiron from great coaches. Now, add the finesse from the likes of quarterback Renee Straumietis, Safety Amanda Janes, and defensive end Bonnie Gillespie, along with many other very athletic strong girls, and you will have one hell of a strong Surge! Not to forget some very possible contenders for an Australian spot in the World Bowl in Rio, Brazil 2014.”
The first “Surge Sunday” training session with the new recruits was held on the weekend. It was the first opportunity the current members have had to welcome their new rookies to the Surge family. The new members were put through a separate session consisting of passing routes to get them up to scratch while the rest of the team continued with more advanced drills.
They then came together as a squad for defensive work and conditioning. They ran, burpied, and crawled their way through a fairly brutal session followed up by one on one wrestling. New girl Jasmine Collins was paired up with defensive captain Shari Onley. Jasmine said of the experience, “Shari was tough! As soon as they paired us together I thought, ‘Oh damn! I have to wrestle Amazon!’ It was a tough session but we all worked together to get through it.”
When it came to fronting up to your first ever Surge training session, another new member Lisa Tauariki mentioned, “It was nerve racking even more so than the trials for two reasons. First, it was a mixture of excitement, anxiety and fear; all the first time jitters. Secondly, it was knowing that I was about to enter into a training session that would leave my legs dangling and my chest gasping for air. I take my hat off to the girls that have been doing this since last year. This is defiantly not a sport for the faint hearted.’
The new recruits come from a variety of sporting backgrounds such as rodeo, hockey, netball, touch football, and we even have an athlete who represented Australia at the 2011 World Athletic Championships in the 4 x 100m relay. When discussing the crop of new talent on show, Quincy Hewitt remarked, “They look like they have the goods; lots of speed and size. Everyone is hungry with a little over two months until our mini camp, so I imagine the tempo is going to increase dramatically in the coming weeks!”
From here on it is training three times a week for the Surge squad until June. Then there will be a mini camp where the group will be cut down to 25-30 members.
Training is sure to be intense as each girl will be keen to stamp their mark on the Gridiron and show what they can bring to this team as they strive to be the inaugural Australian Legends Football League Champions!
This is a new beginning for the Surge as they continue their journey to be No.1 across LFL Australia and become a championship team.