Despite being out of action for eighteen months, York City Knights Ladies’ team are very much together as a group and, throughout February, the squad have undertaken a challenge for charity.
Assistant Coach Kay Rollinson outlined how the team have committed to each running fifty-six miles through the month, averaging out a two miles per day, in support of Cancer Research UK.
“One of the players’ close friends was diagnosed and, after she did a bit of research,” Rollinson, who is also the Assistant Coach of the Scotland Ladies’ team, explained. “We know how women and young girls shy away from having their smear tests and all you’ve got to do is look at the Jade Goody situation to see that is a real silent killer,” she continued, suggesting that the team were initially looking at focusing their fundraising efforts in that area.
However, the fact that the issue became closer to home with one of the team’s friends focused their minds on Cancer Research UK. “We we just thought that everybody, even if they haven’t already been affected by someone in their family or friends having cancer, it’s likely that they will have going forward,” she outlined.
“There’s a very close friend of our team who is going through some cancer treatment and we, as a group, thought we had to do something really,” Rollinson commented.
“One of the girls came up with doing 56 miles each in February and there’s eighteen of the players then Daryl North and myself who are doing this.”
Highlighting the success of their fundraising efforts so far, she spoke of how the team have broken each of their targets so far.
“We’ve had some great support for the challenge. We initially had a a £500 part target and we hit that, so we put it up to £750 and we hit that, and then we’ve set it at £1000 and we’ve hit that,” Rollinson revealed.
“That’s just online donations, there’s still some cash donations to come in which will go towards our final target.”
Despite not being able to train as a group for well over a year due to Covid-19 enforced breaks, Rollinson then discussed how the team have got behind this collective goal and how they have maintained their close bond throughout.
“The girls have totally embraced it, they’ve been absolutely fantastic. We had a week of snow and the girls were still out running,” she explained.
“People who started going out to do just two miles a day are now smashing out four, five or six miles a day. Our captain, Katie Langan, she’s completed it and done the 56. She’s an absolute machine- she just goes out now and just does a 10k run.”
“We’ve got to give a big shout our to Georgia Taylor, as well,” Rollinson added. “Since lockdown began last Spring, she’s been absolutely massive for our team. She’s done two group Zoom calls for us each week and has been great for keeping us all close and together.”
Paying tribute to the players she coaches, Rollinson expressed her admiration for the attitude the group have.
“The efforts of everybody have been brilliant. We might not be graced with an abundance of ability but what we have got is a group of girls who are willing to work hard for each other and put bodies on the line, no matter what,” she said.
“If we say we’re going to do something, we do it as a whole, as a team, we’ve got some players in there, myself included, who aren’t the fittest, but they’ve taken on this challenge and, even if there’s days where they’ve struggled to run, they’ve got on exercise bikes and knocked out five or six miles. The effort has been great, really.”
Underlining the group’s dedication and unity, Rollinson continued: “Nobody has dropped off in the last eighteen months in terms of training. They’re still banging on the door wanting to do more and that just shows us that we’re this unit and no matter what everybody might be pushed out of their comfort zone but everyone else is prepared to put everything into it for the team.”
As hopes of the new Women’s Super League season returning soon continue to grow, Rollinson then expressed the admiration that opponents have shown the Knights’ Ladies’ team in the past. “It’s not unknown that other influential players from other teams give us the utmost respect in terms of guts and determination,” she explained.
“Sometimes, scorelines might look like they’ve run over us but at the end of the game they give us credit, saying things like “you’re so tough.”
“Irrespective of anything else, when we go out on that pitch we do our best and give our all and, when we do that, we know there’s nothing more we can ask,” she added.
Following news earlier in the week of the country’s path out of lockdown, Rollinson admitted that the return of the season has continually been in the teams’ minds. “It’s something that we’ve always kept focused on and, obviously, the RFL have done what they can.
Acknowledging the difficulties the team have had in terms of planning to return to training only for new restrictions to see those plans cancelled, Rollinson noted that the team’s charity challenge will help the team hit the ground running when they are back together as a group.
“I think this running we’re doing puts us in a good place for when we do return to training,” she reasoned.
“At the minute, we’re looking at March 7th to return to training but that’s dependent on RFL approval. The running, though, would mean that we don’t particularly have to focus on the physical, cardio side of things. It means we can get the balls in our hands and do skill-based training straight away rather than a pre-season focusing on the cardiovascular stuff,” Rollinson added.
To date, the team have covered over 1000 miles and broken each of their fundraising targets having now surpassed £1300 – but you can still donate to their ongoing efforts to support Cancer Research UK at this link – https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=YCKLCancerResearch&pageUrl=2