Dan the player, Leanne the rider and Jasmine the high-flyer
A small room containing sports science student Dan Oldfield (17), plus Peele Community College students Leanne Kerry and Jasmine Hailes-Pope (both 16), is likely to produce a fascinating conversation.
Add in the fact that Dan, who left the school in Long Sutton himself last summer, toured Sri Lanka with Lincolnshire’s under-16 cricket team last Easter, Leanne runs her own equestrian business from her Gedney home and Jasmine, of Wisbech, has competed at one of the venues used for the London 2012 Olympics, the conversation gets even more exciting.
Dan, originally from Bradford but now with his family in Lutton, has followed in the tradition set by his dad and grandad in playing cricket, Leanne absorbed the inspiration from her grandmother in becoming a dressage rider and Jasmine has gone from fun to more serious competition in trampolining.
“Your coaching starts with basic movements and when the coaches feel like you can move on to more difficult things, you hope to get much better than you are now,” Jasmine said.
“My coach encourages me to see how far I can go, but I had real problems with believing in myself and it’s only in the last year that I’ve felt confident in what I’m doing.”
Dan’s rate of progression from watching his dad at the crease in Yorkshire to fending off spinners and seamers at St Thomas’s College, just five miles from the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, owes much to the coaching and encouragement he received at Long Sutton Cricket Club.
Sri Lanka was the best tour I’ve ever been on, with brilliant coaches and brilliant people, all in a brilliant country.
“From the age of three, I’ve always watched dad playing cricket and then I’d play on the field beside the ground,” Dan said.
“I carried on until I moved down to Lincolnshire when I was 14, but we kept travelling up to Bradford where my dad played cricket.
“When I was old enough, I joined Long Sutton Cricket Club where I had a brilliant coach named Geoff Smith who was the county coach for Lincolnshire.
“I played for the county at an area training session after the club put me forward at a time when there were a lot of people who were starting to push for it as well.”
Leanne’s 12 years of equine experience has seen her selected for the British Young Riders Dressage Scheme (BYRDS) National and High Performance national training squads, all from a centre built and paid for by her family.
“My grandmother went out and got me a pony when I was four,” Leanne said.
“Grandmother introduced me to equestrianism because she rode when she was younger, but my first dressage event was as an 11-year-old when I was just playing around at it.
“For me, if we’d had stumbled across a show pony, I would have done show jumping but my family has done so much to help me in managing my dressage and school work.”
As Jasmine’s trampolining developed, she faced a choice between furthering her experience with Fenland Flyers Trampoline Club, Wisbech, or continuing with promise in swimming with Wisbech Swimming Club.
But in the same year that she made a winning debut as part of the club’s Year 9 4x25m freestyle relay squad, Jasmine also won Fenland Flyers’ annual Perseverance Award for 2009.
Jasmine said: “I started doing trampolining for fun when I was five or six just to see what I was like.
“As I got older, I started getting better and I really enjoyed doing it as I pushed myself and as friends who were at my level started encouraging me more.
“Then I made a choice of trampolining over swimming and now, my family and my coaches have taken me to almost all my competitions, some of them quite far away.”
The level of commitment for Leanne is even more considerable, with four horses to look after in Elle, Lolly, Star and Riva who she has owned since 2011.
Leanne said: “My family has done so much to help me in managing my dressage and school work.
“My mum helps to sort out the horses which is a full-time job, including the days when you have to get them ready for the vets to come down.
“Since the London 2012 Olympics, dressage has boomed whereas before it wasn’t widely popular and not many people were doing it.
“Charlotte Dujardin (who won two gold medals at the last Olympics and has gone on to be the most successful British dressage rider in history) has done a lot for the sport by advertising and promoting it.
“But (Charlotte’s coach) Carl Hester is my favourite person in dressage because he’s helped me learn that the sport is a lot about patience.
“You’ve got to be patient and have good focus during your programme because you have to put aside all your emotions and concentrate on your horse who you can never blame for anything going wrong.”
Dan’s cricketing heroes are much more obvious, Yorkshire and England batting revelation Joe Root and South African opener AB de Villiers top of the Lutton teenager’s list.
“I’m an all-rounder who also plays for Long Sutton Hockey Club to keep me fit for the winter,” Dan said.
“My sports science course helps me understand more about the game of cricket, as well as nutrition, how many calories I need and more about the body because sometimes I get very sore.
“As far as my cricket heroes go, I like Joe Root and AB de Villiers because of the way they’ve changed cricket.
“I look for batsmen who make the game look easy and AB de Villiers does things that everybody else would say are impossible.
“The speed bowlers deliver balls at means the gap of time you have in which to make decisions is tiny, but de Villiers makes it look as if it’s not like that at all.”
All three students have experienced highlights in their fledgling careers in sport as Dan has toured Sri Lanka with Lincolnshire under-16 cricket team and Leanne helped the Cambridgeshire inter-counties team to the BYRDS Home International Junior Novice title.
But Jasmine has tasted the atmosphere of an Olympic venue after competing at the National Trampoline League Finals, held at the Copper Box Arena, London, which hosted handball and modern pentathlon at the Olympic Games nearly four years ago.
Jasmine said: “It was my first-ever event in such a big arena and I was nervous, but excited at the same time.
“I had to do four other competitions to get there from which the two highest scoring ones got me into the finals at the Copper Box.
“At the finals, I did okay in my warm-ups but less well in one of my actual routines which meant that I came 22nd out of 24 gymnasts in the under 15-16 girls’ league three.
“I have about four competitions this year where I need to get the points to try to get into the National Schools Championships.”
Meanwhile, Leanne said: “Last year, I had lessons with some of the British Dressage selectors before taking a test in front of them.
“It went really well and they told me to aim for the British youth/junior team for 14-18-year-olds.
“For dressage, you design your own floor plan where you can select the music that you want your horse to go out to.
“Lots of people have clinics and workshops where you can design your programme with them.
“I’ve been quite lucky with all the regional team coaches and selectors at high- performance camps, but my horse Riva is quite lazy and she’s not the most energetic horse in the world.
“However, I think she has a lovely personality and Riva is like a rock to me.”
But even Jasmine and Leanne would concede that a tour to Sri Lanka represented a trip of lifetime for Dan who experienced the Indian Ocean island’s love for cricket.
“I went with a team of players aged from 12 to 16 and it was the first time I’d ever played cricket abroad,” Dan said.
“We played five one-day games against local teams that were at the same level as us, high up school teams such as St Thomas’s College where the cricket ground had its own stand and scoreboard.
“The tour was a learning experience in a country I’d always wanted to go to because the passion for cricket there is unbelievable.
“I learned so much about the country and its people and, if I’m honest, the cricket was a side issue.
“It was the best tour I’ve ever been on, with brilliant coaches and brilliant people, all in a brilliant country.
“Just to have people coming up to you on the beach and talking to you about cricket was amazing and I remember one man asking me where we were playing which told me that he wanted to see us play.
“It also showed me what the Sri Lankans are like with their cricket.”
As for the future, Dan, Leanne and Jasmine all want the same thing – to see how far their talents can take them in each of their chosen sports.
Jasmine said: “My coaches are telling me to try to keep going with my trampolining, especially after winning a schools competition at the Deepings School last November where I came first in the elite category and got the best individual score.”
Leanne added: “With what I’ve done so far, for my age and with my horse, there’s no reason why I can’t enter the British Dressage Championships if I can get a good set of results.
“After that, I’d like to have a riding school, liveries and to ride horses for other people, introducing them to riding.
“If I can start making a living by running my own business and giving lessons, that would be my hope of making progress.”
Finally, Dan said: “My ambition is to go as far as I can go, even if it means playing Lincs Premier League cricket or moving somewhere else.
“But you have to make the transition from minor counties to professional cricket and there have been so many cricketers who have been seen as potential stars but haven’t made it.
“The realistic target for me is to keep progressing by playing for Lincolnshire up to under-19 level and then the older team, then moving on to a Lincolnshire Premier League team and see where that takes me.”
The success of any athlete, player or rider partly depends on the network of coaches, mentors and support team they have around them.
Lincolnshire under-16 county cricketer Dan Oldfield, BYRDS Eastern Term dressage rider Leanne Kerry and Fenland Flyers trampolinist Jasmine Hailes-Pope are no different.
Dan’s talent as an all-rounder was first spotted by retired coach Geoff Smith who used to run Long Sutton Cricket Club’s junior section which saw him win the Sky Sports ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) Coach Education Programme Award for outstanding service to grassroots cricket.
Geoff said: “I first met Dan when he was a bit younger and his dad Philip came to the cricket club.
“My philosophy when I was coaching the younger team was to mentor them and Dan was one of those players who responded better to someone other than their parents.
“He was always keen to learn, keen to improve and to take on board the positive aspects of coaching and then work hard at them himself.
“Dan was a model pupil to coach and he really did work hard on his batting, bowling and fielding.
“He understood that the game of cricket was more than just about one aspect of the game and, even though he was very quiet, he was absorbing the things that he wanted to take on board.”
Jasmine’s progress on trampolining is in no small part down to Fenland Flyers coach Adele Broda who said: “Jasmine is a very, very able child who puts pressure on herself, as do most of the kids at the club.
“But at the end of the day, Jasmine competes at National League level which is a very, very good standard, but a very difficult standard to get to.
“Jasmine trains six hours a week, which isn’t really a lot, with it being her GCSE exams year but she’s got to remember that her schoolwork comes first.
“She could easily go up another couple of grades at National League level as she’s a good, all-round performer who did well at The Copper Box Arena.
“The girls at the club are very close and they support each other, whether that’s at training or competitions.
“If one of them is injured. as Jasmine is now, the others will make sure the injured trampolinist is alright.
“It’s really nice to see Jasmine helping with a bit of coaching to help encourage the little kids who are coming and who look up to the older ones.”
Leanne, described as a “fantastic peer leader and a very hard-working student” by her head of house at Peele Community College, Theresa Earl, is getting a helping hand in her quest for dressage success from Poppy Webber, owner of PeeWee Saddlery in Long Sutton.
Poppy said: “Leanne Kerry is a young, talented and dedicated rider, with an incredibly bright future ahead of her.
“Her talent hasn’t gone unnoticed either as she’s been invited on many High Performance camps run by Team GB selectors.
“She is an inspiration to all young people, managing not only to fit in her schoolwork – doing very well academically – but also training four young horses and competing in regular competitions and training camps.
“Leanne comes from a very normal family, unable to afford to spend tens of thousands of pounds on a horse.
“So, instead, she has had to produce young horses herself to the level she is competing at which requires much more work and time.
“To help fund this, she has recently started to run her own yard with amazing facilities and a competition-sized arena in Gedney where she hopes to use her talent and amenable personality to help others with teaching, schooling and livery work.
“Leanne is definitely one to look out for in the future and it won’t be long until she’s wearing a Union Jack at the Olympics.
“That’s why PeeWee Saddlery sponsors her because we are so proud to be associated with such a rising star and we love being a part of this amazing journey.”
The sky is the limit for Jasmine too, according to Adele, as long as she learns to master the “jumping game” of trampolining.
“Jasmine is learning to do double somersaults and she can do them,” Adele said.
“But she has to get her head around them and, unfortunately, her injury has knocked Jasmine back a little bit.
“Above all, Jasmine is a credit to Fenland Flyers Club and she’s capable of doing amazing routines.”
Dan’s progress will be closely watched by Fiona Mills, junior secretary of Long Sutton Cricket Club, who said: “Sri Lanka was an amazing tour for a very, very good player like Dan, a chance of a lifetime to play for your country and proof that Dan has proved himself.”
Geoff added: “Dan has a springboard to go to whatever level he wants because Lincolnshire has very strong links with Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club and there are a lot of Lincolnshire schoolboys who have gone on the play for Nottinghamshire.
“But even the Lincolnshire minor counties team is a strong one, with a great reputation, and Dan will have that opportunity as well if he continues to develop because he does have potential, good motivation and the skill of being a keen and positive listener.”