Vanessa Ellis' Commonwealth Games portrait

Sport Coaching lecturer leads England basketball team to win silver at Commonwealth Games

27 April 2018

Vanessa Ellis is not only a higher education lecturer at Dearne Valley College, but also acts as assistant coach to Great Britain’s women’s basketball team, a role that has seen her make it to this year’s Commonwealth Games, and win the silver medal for England.

Vanessa has learned her coaching skills as coach for Sheffield Hatters Basketball Club, as well as taking on various courses for further development. When the opportunity arose for Vanessa to join the GB basketball team as assistant coach, she naturally grabbed it with both hands.

Vanessa said, “My role has many responsibilities, including helping with planning and running of training sessions, as well as performance analysis which may mean scouting other teams and feeding this back to my team. This analysis is important for the players to receive feedback on their own performance and how they can improve.”

In order to prepare for the Commonwealth Games, Vanessa travelled with team England to Australia for 10 days to train at a base camp in Brisbane. However, this did not go as smoothly as hoped, with some injuries to players during training and playing contract restriction for two members of the team, resulting in jet lag affecting performance.

Vanessa said, “The odds to start with were against us, as we lost our first game to Canada – the morale was low and the pressure was on, but that made my job even more crucial to keep them motivated.”

“We met Canada again and this time outplayed them to go through to the finals, which was just an amazing feeling. We knew we were going to achieve at least silver medal, but it wasn’t just about that, we’ve broken new ground for future athletes interested in the sport.”

As a big advocate for basketball, Vanessa also has tips and inspiration to pass onto her students at Dearne Valley College, as well as other young people interested in a career as sports coach: “Basketball is a sport where coaches have a massive influence on how the game plays out, by being on the side-lines and calling time-outs when its necessary to discuss tactics with your team.

“Being part of a team like this I hope I can inspire young people to pursue a career in sport coaching – I’m just a Sheffield girl who has done her best in creating opportunities and grabbed them whenever possible; If you’re committed and dedicated to giving time to your career and what you want to achieve, it will pay off.”


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