AMBITIOUS young cricketers have been inspired by words of encouragement from one of their sporting heroes after reaching the final stages of a prestigious county championship.
The talented Ripon Grammar School Under-13s girls’ team excelled throughout the group stages of the Yorkshire Indoor Cricket Finals at Headingley, beating all-comers including the eventual champions.
Although they were out, they weren’t down after losing in the semi-final, when England and Yorkshire cricketer Lauren Winfield encouraged them not to give up and to keep working at the sport they love.
“She really inspired us,” said captain Olivia Vollans, from Littlethorpe, whose team achieved an impressive 140-plus runs in every game leading up to the semi-finals. “She told us to keep on going, encouraging us all to carry on and develop our sport.”
Olivia, 12, who also plays football, hockey and netball, said her team of eight, many of whom have only recently started playing cricket, were delighted by what they have achieved so far: “We won all our group games - including one against the eventual winners - by quite a big margin.”
Boarding student, Lucy Laycock, from Ilkey, added: “We’ve been practising during games, at lunch-times and after school. If we put in the work and make the effort we know we can get even further.”
RGS director of sport Adam Milner said the team has lots of potential: “They are a very talented group of girls across a range of sports, not just cricket, and they have benefited from the fact that North Yorkshire’s Under-13s girls’ coach Kevin Vollans has kindly volunteered to help coach them.
“This is the furthest one of our girls’ cricket teams has reached in county tournaments and we’re now looking forward to the outdoor competitions in the summer.”
With girls’ cricket at the school going from strength to strength, he added: “We’re also going to be hosting the North round of the under-15 girls’ School Sport Magazine National Schools Cricket Cup in May.”
Another member of the team, boarding student Lily wainwright 13, from Sproxton, who also represents her school in hockey and netball, explained how she has only recently started playing cricket: “We have got great team spirit and the atmosphere is great. We have done amazingly well. I’m definitely going to carry on with the sport.”
Isabella Withy, 13, from Burton Leonard, added that she had started out playing cricket for fun: “But next year we’re determined to do it again and get further in the competition.”
Emily Harris, 13, said she was pleased they had reached the semi-finals: “But I wasn’t surprised. We work together really well as a team. Hopefully now we can enter some more competitions and get even further.”
Caption: the cricket team pictured with Lauren Winfield, centre, and Yorkshire County Cricket Club girls' community coach Rachel Hildreth, right