The Youth of Today… the Future of Dodgeball!

It’s official: the 2017/18 dodgeball season is upon us. And now that we’ve  caught up with our grown-up Bees’ progress, it’s time to cross over to see what’s going on with the best that the future of dodgeball, has got to offer!

Manchester Bees Dodgeball Academy

The newly formed Mr Dodgeball/Bees academy, open to anyone aged 14-16, is now up and running. The sessions are suitable for all abilities and take place from 7-8pm at St Anne’s High School in Stockport, on Wednesdays – for more information, visit the Bees Academy facebook page!

the Bees' Academy sessions are now well underway!
the Bees’ Academy sessions are now well underway!

The sessions are coached by qualified coaches Sam Wrench and Colm Mallon and take place 7-8 at St Annes High School in Stockport.

Mr Dodgeball and his Junior Bees

Mr Dodgeball’s Junior clubs’ coaching team, Helen Slater, Sam Wrench, George Howard, Victoria Foster, and Chris Riley have been working hard to provide fun, innovative sessions to all young players.

Coaches Chris and Victoria alongside this season's first tournament winners!
Coaches Chris and Victoria alongside this season’s first tournament winners!

Regular sessions have restarted and the uptake, as always, has been fantastic – with both returning players and also lots of new players getting involved.

Weekly sessions

Mr Dodgeball runs weekly sessions at a variety of locations for teams, including the Horwich Heat, Heaton Hurricanes, Altrincham Dodgers, Avondale Avalanche, Handforth Hawks, and new club the Burnage Bruins.

For more information on weekly sessions, visit Mr Dodgeball’s website!

Tournaments

Mr Dodgeball has monthly tournaments running from October 2017 until July 2018, with support and additional coaching provided by Manchester Bees’ Players – and sometimes with very special, surprise guests!

Bumble the Bee making a very special surprise appearance at one of last season's final Junior Tournaments, alongside Bath Spartan's James Robinson and Bees' very own Sam Wench
Some of last season’s special Guests: Bumble the Bee, Bath Spartan’s James Robinson and Manchester Bees’ very own Sam Wench!

Representative teams

Mr Dodgeball will be entering teams into British Dodgeball’s Junior Tournaments thisseason!

Players will be selected from Mr Dodgeball’s community clubs in the under 11 and under 13 categories, to play for Mr Dodgeball’s Junior Bees team.

At this year’s inaugural Season Open in Leicester in September, the Junior Bees were runners-up in both categories, having played to a brilliant level throughout the day!

MrD's MJB

Thinking about getting involved? Manchester Bees cater for all ages – Mr Dodgeball’s junior sessions for ages 6-13; the Manchester Bees Dodgeball Academy for ages 14-16; and Manchester Bees Dodgeball for adult players!

Glitter, Glory & Girl Power: A Tale of Two Teams

For the first time ever, in this 2016/17 season, the Manchester Bees had not one, but two women’s teams.

Whilst the Queen Bees had been established some time ago, this year, the Queens took the crown as the club’s women’s first team, setting a prime example to the club’s newly founded ‘Honey Bees’ second team. Both teams competed in the Women’s National League 1 North.

At the end of March, we recapped the Queens’ and Honeys’ favourite moments so far and now, with league wrapped up for the season, we relive some of the ladies’ best moments of their most successful season yet.

Racing for the run-off: The Queen Bees start the game in great style
Racing for the run-off: The Queen Bees start the game in style

The Bees’ first meet was an undoubted success, with both teams unbeaten at the end of the day. What a way to start the show!

The Queen and Honey Bees celebrate a full house of wins at League Meet 1
The Queen and Honey Bees celebrate a full house of wins at League Meet 1

At meet two, the league saw its first der-bee, with Queen’s snatching and catching their way to a win against the Honeys. Final score, 8-6.

Catches win matches: Queen Bee and general #BNID Suzanne Vickers shows us how it's done.
Catches win matches: Queen Bee and general #BNID Suzanne Vickers shows us how it’s done.

Not down for long, the Honeys bounced back in no time, securing a hard-fought and well-earned 9-5 win over the Queens in the next der-bee during the fifth league meet of the season.

With both teams performing consistently against the other WNL1 North competitors, the Bees swarmed at the top of the table from meet one, throughout the season.

The league finale saw the Honeys battling valiantly onwards, unfortunately a player down, but never to be underestimated. Only the Queens managed a clean sweep against the Honey Bees this season in their final der-bee, showing their experience and capitalising on their one-player advantage, securing a 14-0 victory.

From a total of 21 matches,  the Honeys’ loss to Queens marked only their fourth – and final – defeat of the entire league. A good premiere for the newbees!

Plaits, Ribbons, Glitter: Honey Bees Alex and Laura (C) know how to do a girly pre-league ritual!
Plaits, Ribbons, Glitter: Honey Bees Alex and Captain Laura know how to do a girly pre-league ritual!

The best bits about this season? To name but a few: the road trips to Sheffield & back, the girly pre-game team glitter and hair-plaiting rituals, the camaraderie between teams and club and team spirit, the cheer-bee-ders showing support at the sidelines of each other’s games, as much and as often as possible.

Defeated only twice throughout the season, the Queen Bees ended the final league meet crowned this year’s WNL1 North Champions. Not ones to leave empty handed, the Honey Bees were presented their well-deserved Runner Up medals. Not bad for the first attempt, eh? The ladies’ first year with two teams and first time for a #Bees1and2. I think we’ll call that a success.

It must bee love: Queen Bee (and general #BNID) Suzanne Vickers and Honey Bee Kate Wood
It must bee love: Queen Bee (and general #BNID) Suzanne Vickers and Honey Bee Kate Wood

So what about next year? The Queens will face the challenges of the DPL for the first time, and the Honeys will strive to double their collection of silverware in WNL1 North. How will they fare? Time will tell. One thing for sure is, the Bees will have fun every step of the way.

Feel like getting involved? The Bees are always looking for more members. Whether you want to get involved for the socials, fitness or competition, Manchester Bees Dodgeball have something for everyone. Our all-comers sessions run on Tuesdays, 8-9.30pm at Manchester Academy School, M14 4PX. Why not come along and have a go?!

Coaches Corner – thoughts on the season so far!

As the season draws to a close and the Killers, Workers, Queens and Honeys look towards the end of their respective league meets, let’s catch up with our dedicated coaching team on what they think the Bees have bossed this season.

Bru Cousins, Head Coach and Killer Bee

I have been really impressed with the development of all players this year. Most players have shown brilliant commitment and this has meant good numbers at training – which in turn allows for quality sessions that develop specific aspects of people’s games.

The debrief: Another busy training session draws to a close with a hands in for four buzzes and a BEES!
The debrief: Another busy training session draws to a close with a hands in for four buzzes and a BEES!

The Honey Bees are proof of this – smashing teams that have been playing for a similar length of time – well done Alice Heaney and Kate Wood for some great catching improvements this year. The Queen Bees’ power has improved this year, and their attitude has improved – meaning they now want to win without sacrificing fun. Coach Helena Law has been instrumental in this, whilst Lucy Collins and Imy Young have stepped into the centre of the team and played well. The Killer Bees have refined their ability to see matches out and are now much less vulnerable to pre-throws – Rob Kearns has improved this during the latter half of the season. Worker Bees are finally playing at the level we always knew they could do, despite being without some of the players they were expecting to have in the side. They continue to develop their throwing power and timing. Particular shout-outs to Paul Brunger and Kevin Johnson for stepping into that team and getting stuck in.

All teams will be looking forward to more 5 ball training now to ready ourselves for the upcoming Northern Champs.

Aden Woodall – Men’s Coach and Killer Bee

Through consistent play, the Killer Bees are looking likely to finish fourth (barring any disasters which could always happen in such a fast and frantic sport). We haven’t yet beat a top 3 team, but we have drawn with Leicester Minotaurs. The main thing our team has learned is that every match and every point matters – we drew to Leeds in last place due to underestimating them. Technically, our safety play has improved – we are far less vulnerable to pre-throws now and this is allowing us to confidently see out matches rather than letting teams catch and hit their way back into a game. Liam McMahon has showed dedication throughout the season. Bru Cousins and Alex Bembridge have both been making great catches throughout the league season, and Ross McGuigan’s speed has helped the team with ball retention.

Helena Law – Women’s Coach and Queen Bee

At the end of season meeting last year we discussed the possibility of having 2 women’s teams. This season we introduced the Honey Bees and what a first season they have had! The Honey Bees have comfortably competed in tournaments against more experienced teams and have been storming the league. At training the impact has been incredible; the Honeys have built on their own skill set and raised everyone’s level of play! The Queens have definitely felt the benefit of being able to regularly play against such a strong team at sessions and the resulting success of both teams is a massive testament to that.

Manchester Bees Dodgeball Queen Bees Honey Bees Sports Team Plate Winners
The Queens and Honeys celebrate a #Bees1and2 in the Plate at the Leicester Open – with their very own commemorative plates!

The Honey Bees won the Plate at the Leicester Open and currently sit second in the league following several incredible performances; including beating the Queen bees at the last league with a fantastic mixture of catches and counters. The Queen bees have seen their own success this season; winning the West Midland tournament, beating DPL teams and leading the WNL 1 North.

As a coach for the womens teams, I can’t say how excited I am to see both teams continue to develop, improve their skills and compete at a high standard…all while covered in glitter chanting “ALIVE! AWAKE! ALERT! ENTHUSIATIC!”

Alex Bembridge – Women’s Coach and Killer Bee

What Helena said.

The Queen and Honey Bees pose for a picture with player-coach Helena (bottom row, centre) and Alex Bembridge (top right) Honorable mention: Supporter/Cameraman David Streather
Queen/Coach Helena (bottom row, centre) and Killer/Coach Alex Bembridge (top right) pose alongside the Queens and Honeys after another successful league meet!
Honorable mention: Supporter/Cameraman David Streather (top left)

Elliot Barker – Assistant Coach and Worker Bee

Since doing the UKDBA level 2 course last year, I’ve taken our third men’s team, the Soldier Bees to several tournaments and fount it rewarding watching the players develop throughout the season.

Being asked to run our members’ session for the first time was a great experience. As ‘Joint village-idiot” of the Bees (shout out to Huband), I was worried I wouldn’t be taken seriously – and it was the longest two hours of my life, but I enjoyed the challenge! Massive respect to Bru,  Aden and the other coaches who regularly run our all-comers’ and members’ sessions. Fortunately everyone was great, I got good feedback from the coaching team on how to improve my coaching technique too.

The workers have had a tough season with the team ravaged by injury. Despite this, morale remains high in the squad and it’s great to be with a group of lads who genuinely enjoy each others’ company #WeDemBees.

Do you want to give dodgeball a try? Whether it’s for fun, to get fit or make new friends, at the Manchester Bees you can hit all three bees birds with one dodgeball stone! Our all-comers sessions run from 8-9.30 on Tuesdays at Manchester Academy School, M14 4PX. We hope to see you there soon!

Keeping Up with the Killers: Episode III

Missed out on the previous episodes of #KUWTK? Catch up on the Episode I: The Premiere and Episode II: The Midseason Special before continuing, or suffer the spoilers!

Having played all the teams in DPL once, the Bees had settled in fourth place, suffering defeat to only two teams. With week 4’s fixtures mirroring those from Week 1, the Bees began the second half of the season against London Storm whom they had previously defeated 13-6.

The teams could not be separated over the first two games, with both ending in tight draws after three minutes. The Killer Bees managed to gain control of the contest thanks to precise throwing, finishing with a 15-4 victory over the team from the capital.

Buoyed by their dominant display against London Storm, the Killer Bees managed to execute their best performance of the league season, achieving the maximum 19 points from Nottingham Sheriffs whilst dropping none themselves. No Manchester player put a foot wrong in the match, combining terrific throws, dynamic dodging and crucial catches throughout the encounter.

Some very happy Killers
Some very happy and successful Killers

Searching for a hat-trick of wins for the day, Manchester were to play their final match against Meteors, themselves desperate for a win after a defeat to Wessex Wolves.

The Bees were sluggish out of the blocks and lost the first two games before clawing back points, heading into the final game with the match delicately balanced at 6 points apiece.

Manchester’s initial sluggishness would come back to haunt them as they were unable to earn the final points of the match and succumbed to their second defeat against the Lutterworth collective.

 

In Week 5, the Killer Bees were due to repeat their fixtures from week 2. That week, Manchester had suffered their heaviest defeat to Bedford Might Eagles, 17-2. Determined not to suffer the same fate, the Bees headed into the match in something of a frenzy. However, there was perhaps too much desire and excitement, with Mighty Eagles soaring into a 6-0 lead. Tactical changes and standout play from Aden Woodall dragged the Bees back into the contest before a number of close calls went against the Manchester team; the match ended 13-6 in Bedford’s favour.

Playing next against a full strength Dirty Ducks team, the Bees suffered their second defeat of the day and their first of the entire season to a team below them in the league. Smart catching from the Warwick University alumni saw them take 15 points in a desperately disappointing defeat for the Killer Bees.

Meet Paul (L) and Elliot (R). Neither are Killers (yet), but at Meet 5, the Killers were a bit camera shy. Paul and Elliot aren't camera shy.
Meet Paul (L) and Elliot (R). Neither are Killers (yet), but at Meet 5, the Killers were a bit camera shy. Paul and Elliot aren’t camera shy.

Determined to end the day with a victory, the Bees faced Jammy Dodgers in what was set to be a tense, attritional game. With clinical throwing and tactical discipline, the Bees ground out a gritty 13-6 victory over the Hinckley team.

With three fixtures left, Manchester Killer Bees remain in 4th place in the Dodgeball Premier League, 25 points ahead of 5th place and 37 points behind 3rd place. With their next three fixtures against a team trying to cement their status at the top of the league and two teams scrambling to secure safety, the Bees are taking nothing for granted.