REGENT SKATING CLUB coach Sasha Baker said she was ‘shocked’ to be shortlisted for Coach of the Year at the 2022 Betway CI Sports Awards, alongside colleague Keilah Ovens.
The pair have been invited to the annual event – set to be staged at the Royal Jersey Showground next Thursday – following a joint nomination for the coaching accolade, in recognition of their efforts in taking the club from strength to strength over the past 12 months. Regent SC has produced a number of British champions, who have gone on to be selected to represent Great Britain in international competitions.
The club has been in existence since 1979, during the roller skating boom of that decade and, thanks to the coaching of Baker and Ovens, it is now home to a new generation of talented artistic skaters.
‘To be honest, it wasn’t even on our radar,’ said Baker regarding their nomination. ‘When you see the people who we’ve been nominated with, we didn’t expect to be put in the same bracket, let alone be in the running.
‘Working alongside Keilah is incredible. We both have a different skill set and that helps balance it out.’
In July, 15-year-old Libby Watts became British champion in the youth ladies category at the GB Skate Artistic British Dance Championships and, alongside club-mate Lucy Dorgan, was subsequently selected to represent GB in the Cup of Europe.
Another who was chosen to represent GB was Ovens’ 12-year-old son Jack who, the month before, became a double gold medallist at the British Championships – in both the espoir men’s solo and the espoir couples, with partner Louisa Wood. Ovens’ eight-year-old daughter picked up a silver in her age category at the same event.
Meanwhile, Baker herself became a British champion in the masters category, while her daughter Sophie was also selected to represent GB in a recent competition in France.
‘The last two years have been awesome. We’ve been really successful,’ Baker added.
‘We’ve sent our largest number [of skaters] to Team GB, which is amazing considering we have limited facilities.
‘They are a joy to coach. They all train really hard and they have the mindset to work hard and drive themselves forward. That then feeds back to the younger generation.
‘It has been a really exciting journey and we are now seeing the results and the rewards of that hard work.’
Baker says that the club has welcomed an influx of new members, both children and adults, which is contributing to their continued growth. She also dedicated the club’s success to the dedication of the parents and volunteers on the committee – and funding and grants the club has received from Jersey Community Fund and Condor Ferries.
‘We are lucky to have such strong support in the background, putting in a lot of hours, a real strong community and the funding we have received has helped to remove some of the financial barriers,’ Baker continued.
‘Things like this will also help raise the profile of the club. We continue to expand and it just shows that if you enjoy what you do, it is very rewarding.’