Sometimes volunteering is borne out of necessity but as with many things, you fall in love with it and it becomes your life.
This was the case for Joan Corcoran, a B Award Umpire, Coach AND County Netball Association Secretary for South Durham and Cleveland.
After retiring from her permanent job five years ago, Joan fell in to doing more volunteering with her netball club and wider.
“I’ve been volunteering as an umpire for ten years and am now a B award umpire and volunteer coach for the adult teams but I sometimes coach the juniors,” says Joan.
The coaching role came about two and a half years ago when the club she plays for asked Joan to do her coaching award.
“I was a gymnastics and trampolining coach but that was 25 years ago!”
When posed with the question of how and why she began her time as a volunteer, Joan, like many other officials, told us that she started because her club only had one umpire.
“I wanted to help share the umpiring responsibilities within the club so offered to go on the course,” says Joan.
Professionally, Joan used to work in the NHS as an accountant and took voluntary redundancy – but during her career she found netball volunteering helped her work:
“Volunteering takes you away from the stressful work environment – you know you’ve got a match to get to, can’t stay late at work, you have to go.
“If you speak to someone at netball about the problem they sometimes come up with the solution for you!”
With retirement comes more volunteering responsibility!
“After taking voluntary redundancy I was offered more and more umpiring at colleges and schools and it escalated from there – people just kept calling me up!”
Joan, as many volunteers do, started out as a player, she began in school and went all the way through until she took a break at the age of 18.
“My older sisters and I all played on the same team so I went back to play again and then took around five years out to have children,” recalls Joan.
These days Joan very rarely takes to court after tearing her ACL – “I told myself I’d take it easy when I went back but when you’re competitive you just can’t stop yourself!”
Another benefit of volunteering – being able to keep fit and involved even when you can no longer play.
“If you’re running around umpiring it keeps you fit, keeps me healthy, it gives me something to do and keeps me busy.
“As you get older you still think you can do what you did when you were younger – volunteering keeps me a part of my club.
“The secretary bit keeps my mind ticking over it’s exercising a different part of my body! I’m actually typing up committee minutes as we speak!”
It’s all aspects of health we’re talking about here and social life becomes a huge part of an individual’s wellbeing.
“I think I need to have the people I’ve seen regularly for the last 25 years in my life – everyone’s busy outside of netball so that brings you back together once a week,” explains Joan.
Has hearing about Joan’s life as a volunteer got you feeling like it might be for you?
Well she has some advice for you in this area:
“If you’ve never been part of netball or part of a club it might be difficult to go in cold – but don’t let that put you off!
“If you’ve always been part of a club then volunteering is the perfect way to keep involved, it keeps the passion for the sport going in a different capacity.”
Joan’s committee has a great system in place to introduce younger members and get them involved.
“It can be daunting for teenagers to sit on a committee so we put two younger people into one role and buddy them up together.
“We make sure one is a little bit younger than the other so when one goes off to university the other can slot into the role!
“We find it difficult to get young volunteers in but also important to encourage the youth,” she explains.
Volunteering in netball can help you gain experience in any HR, Accountancy, Marketing or Admin Skills – email Volunteering@englandnetball.co.uk or contact your local club or league today.
As Joan explains, volunteering is really rewarding in lots of different ways and it depends on your perspective and lifestyle what you get out of it.
“It’s just me and my husband at home now, we have our separate things that we like to do and we come back together to talk about what we’ve been doing.
“We’re both retired but we love to keep fit and it’s the perfect opportunity to keep active – also if I want to umpire at regional it’s an incentive to keep fit over the summer and go for a run and a cycle!”
There’s never a dull moment when you’re a volunteer – it’s a busy and rewarding way of life.
“There’s always things happening! We get lots of entertainment from sitting on a bus with a load of girls going to a tournament – the little stories that they’re telling each other are really amusing!
“Not only that but hearing them singing when they’re on the way back!”
Volunteers often do their work, get their heads down and don’t expect any recognition, but isn’t it amazing when that recognition comes?
Joan was recently awarded with just that, a ‘recognition award’ from her clubs awards evening.
“Over the last twelve months I’ve been coaching a back to netball section of the club and was given an award for that work.
“The whoop I got when I was given the award from all the girls was amazing – it sent shivers down my spine. To know all of these people are behind you feels really great!”
When you think of how much time and how much of their lives many of our fantastic volunteers give to the sport it makes you wonder what affect it has on the social side of life.
“It’s a big part of my social life, it’s a huge part of my life. I probably wouldn’t have much of a social life if I didn’t have netball!
“I’d have a family life but most of my friends that weren’t involved in netball before I’ve got them involved!
“A lot of them now play back to netball!”
Unbelievably, Joan manages to find the time to volunteer outside of netball – can you believe it?
Joan and her husband have marshalled at triathlons for two years and have also helped out with other road races for around six years.
“Again, I just fell into it – I was supporting a netball friend taking part in a triathlon and got roped in to helping and have been doing it ever since!”
Has Joan’s story got you inspired? You can learn all about volunteer month here: https://www.englandnetball.co.uk/volunteers/volunteer-profiles and during this month there will be more and more volunteer profiles added to the page!
Tell us your story – email email@example.com and we’ll send you a list of questions we have for you.
We’ll leave Joan with the final word:
“I think if I didn’t have netball in my life there’d be a big gap in my life.
“When I retired I didn’t plan on doing so much in the way of netball but I’ve found something I love and I’ve done more and more.
“I thought I’d do more consultancy when I retired but I didn’t do that, I just fell into netball because it’s so rewarding.”