On Sunday 7th January the Gladiators kick started their 2018 campaign with a bang, as more than 60 people descended onto the University of Essex Campus for the first session of the year. Welcoming back an array of veteran players, and a tremendous crop of rookies, the senior team already looks set to make 2018 one of the best years for the club. Head Coach Luke Box was delighted with the turn out for the session, and was putting his new staff through their paces, looking to really bring out the best in the players, setting the bar high for what the club should accomplish this season. With new coaches on both sides of the ball, every position group was catered for, and each took their opportunity to give the new players a grounding in fundamental skills, and also a taste of the new offensive and defensive systems.
As ever, the off season saw some turnover of players, with the retirements of long time stalwarts Phil Moreton and Paul Brunsden on the offensive and defensive lines both leaving significant gaps, but the return of 2013 National Championship winner Ryan Vaughan, and Nick Anderson who spent last summer in Finland, playing for the Jyväskylä Jaguars, should help to pick up the slack. On defense the club welcomes back Linebacker Matt Selby from a hiatus away from the game, and former GB Lion Joe Parsons, who returns at Defensive back after taking 2017 off recovering from injury. Other terrific acquisitions include Ethan Hackett, a giant Offensive tackle and Troy Shelton, an explosive running back, who both join us from Ipswich.
The club will continue to recruit through the pre-season, so anyone who is interested in getting involved with the club should get in touch, or just come down and take part in training. The next session will be Sunday 14th January from 1030am at the Corporal Budd VC Gymnasium Fields, and will be every Sunday at the same time and venue thereafter.