Nicky Shaw

"Believe in your ability. Too many of us are affected by imposter syndrome."

What's your background in Ultimate?

I started playing Ultimate in 2012 when I was at University. I was part of a few other sports club at the same time, so I didn't give Ultimate much focus.

I moved to Montreal Canada to study and joined the University’s team. It was good fun but quite casual and lacking in Women. After asking around, I joined another University’s Women’s B team, who had mandatory trainings at 6.15am! It was quite clear then that I had officially caught the bug.

Back in Scotland, I was Captain of Strathclyde team for two years running. We did well and along with some helpful pickups, we began to get more recognised on the UK scene. At this time, I was also improving my own game by training with Swift and going to any Glasgow Ultimate training session that I could!

In my last year of university, I was persuaded to trial for GB U23, despite never believing that I was good enough! We had two amazingly supportive and talented coaches and I really enjoyed learning and playing with the Mixed team in London 2015. Around that time, I was also picked up by Black Eagles and debuted for them in Poland at EUCF. It was great tournament - working hard and playing hard! In 2017, I trialled for Eagles at their Invite Only session designed to select a World’s team for WUCC 2018. During this process, I was asked to join the Captaincy team. It was an invaluable experience working towards such an event over the course of 18 months and very rewarding when we came 11th.

Where or who do you coach?

I coach the University of Strathclyde Women's team. Shaun Webb is also the Men's coach for the University. Together with the elected Captains, we coach the Club sessions.

How did you start coaching?

I was asked by the 18/19 Committee to join them as a Women’s coach. They had secured a male coach and wanted to have a female on board too!

Why do you coach Ultimate?

I have been coached by many people in Ultimate and a variety of other sports. I am really grateful for these opportunities I have had, and I wanted to give back in someway.

What do you enjoy most about coaching Ultimate?

I love being outside and teaching other people! Ultimate has been a large part of my life for the past 7 years and I want to be able to share that with others and grow the sport. It's inclusive and the Spirit of the Game is very powerful. I believe that more Ultimate should be taught schools to teach respect, honesty, as well as good sportspersonship!

It’s been enjoyable working with Shaun, who has many more years of coaching under his belt than I. He has created endless documents, spreadsheets and powerpoint presentations on coaching plans, drills, fitness. It’s been amazing to have those resources to hand. I’ve learnt a lot from observing or assisting in his sessions, where you get a different view point than if you were to take part.

What have you learnt from coaching Ultimate?

On a practical level, coaching has helped with my group management skills and confidence. Also it has increased my game knowledge, and it’s been really interesting for me being a non-playing coach. It’s a hard job, lots of time goes into it behind the curtains, but luckily it’s very rewarding.

What’s been your coaching highlight to date?

In the past year Strathclyde Ultimate team and squad have been very successful, accumulating at Nationals where our Men’s team won gold, our Women’s 1st team came away with Bronze and we even had a Women’s second team there, for the first time.

A few moments in particular come to mind:

- The look of joy on the faces of our Second team when they qualified for Nationals.

- The amount of people that approached me at the Presidents Handover to say thank you for coaching them. They were all so appreciative, it made the work this past year worthwhile!

What are your top three tips for a new coach / getting started?

- Be confident.

- Do your research and plan.

- Smile. Not all the time, but in general people who attend your sessions ultimately just want to have fun, and a smile goes a long way.

Any other tops tips?

Believe in your ability. Too many of us are affected by imposter syndrome.

What’s coming up next for you?

Nothing set, I'm enjoying coaching for now and motivating others. I'm soon to embark on a career change which will shake things up a little but I look forward to the future and the unknown!