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  • Writer's pictureRoss Taylor

DJC @ The BJA Annual Awards 2017

Sometimes, history is not a guide to future success. In two ways, this was very much the case with the nomination of Drake Judo Club and our own Dan Brown at the British Judo Association’s Annual Awards.

The first reason is probably not what you’d think! My old English Teacher did not think much of my creative writing skills at school. Either my career has exposed me to sufficient flannel that I can now call upon it ad nauseum or I have discovered a hidden talent in reporting the exploits of Lottie and the other Drake judoka over the last few years, such that the entries that I put in for these Awards must have hit the spot. Of the four nominations, two made the short list of finalists and another was in a category that got cancelled at the last moment. Not a bad strike rate! I will try and do better next year …..

The second reason is that DJC doesn’t have much history to call upon. This seems to be something that Ross is singlehandedly trying to fix with his British Judo History Facebook group, but as the club itself has only been in existence since March 2016, there are not a lot of calendar months to call upon. That in itself does not seem to be a barrier to success, as we’ve managed to pack in a heck of a lot!

And so it was that the DJC committee got to go on a team bonding experience! A luxury minibus, complete with sunroof, cup holders and executive seats was procured for the jaunt and 6 hours of Tony’s tunes later, we arrived in Nottingham for the 2017 Awards evening in time for the ladies to get ready and the boys to contemplate the bar. Ross arrived separately after a family commitment in the morning.

Lots of posh frocks with current and past judo royalty present, including Nekoda Smythe-Davis, Kate Howey and Chris Skelley, set the scene for a wonderful night of reflection on the short DJC history and plans for further progress over the next year. A few glasses of reward were consumed and I am under the impression that DJC’s own Head Coach was the last to leave the hall! Videos of Dan and Mike doing cartwheels at some small hour in the morning were doing the rounds – Corey would be proud of Dan’s gymnastic progress ….

The highlights of the evening came as, firstly, Dan was called to the stage with the other finalists in the Club Volunteer of the Year Award. Dan really is the glue that holds the club together, whether it is running the register at the Lifecentre, making sure we have the bag of gi’s in the right place, to entering judoka in competitions and helping out (often at short notice) on the mat to get ratios right or to allow the coach to do some other important errand. The whooping and hollering when his name was called as bronze medal winner laid down the gauntlet to the other clubs (in noise terms at least). I don’t recall a louder cheer in the whole evening. Well done Dan. DJC just simply wouldn’t be what it is without you.

After what seemed to be an indeterminable wait, something we are getting used too at competitions, Ross stepped on stage for the Community Club of the Year Award. Proud as punch and rather resplendent in his blue suit and pink shirt & tie combination, Ross should have won on presentation alone. A second bronze of the night is a fantastic achievement, especially when you look at the history (that word again) of the gold and silver medal winners. For DJC to come from nothing and achieve recognition from the BJA at this level is something that we should all be rightly proud. It’s down to every one of the DJC judoka, parents, helpers and hangers on that make this club what it is. Thank you.

With a sore head and a sense of the calm after the storm, we returned south. After introducing the committee to Gloucester Services (Mike proclaimed that he thought he was dreaming!), the tunes started playing and a good sing-song ensued. Ros and Jess revealed their hidden singing talents and thoughts turned to the next 12 months.

To the rest of the Drake Judo Family, thank you for one hell of a year. It’s not over yet though. The Devon Low Grades are upon us and then the big one – our own Awards Night! The 2018 calendar is already being shaped with trips to a multitude of National Championships, competitions and events (social as well as judo related) for all grades, ages and experience. Lots of guest coaches and activities to broaden the sports appeal to our members. We may even include a trip to Europe!

Buckle up and enjoy the ride ……


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