After a big weekend of Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) we caught up with Celtic Dragons head coach Dannii Titmuss-Morris to talk about her first games as head coach and the Dragons’ performance.
Dreams of Dragons
Following our last interview, Titmuss-Morris mentioned that her dream was to see the Dragons out on the court. This time we got to ask her about seeing her dream become a reality.
“It was really cool. It is a dream I have always had to be a VNSL head coach, and to be able to do that on Saturday was a privilege.
“I am now part of the Dragons story; it is forever written that I will be part of that alongside all of those athletes and other staff. We are now interwoven into this chapter and whatever happens next for Dragons.”
Titmuss-Morris said the experience was enhanced by the organisation of the weekend.
“When it is a doubleheader and you are there for the weekend and all the teams are there, it is quite a nice vibe. It was a really fun weekend!
“I was really pleased how organised the event was. It felt really smooth and very organised, it was a very nice opener to the league – so credit to VNSL in getting that event up and running in the way that they did.”
The weekend was a fresh start for the new-look Celtic Dragons. The 2022 VNSL season is the starting point for a new generation – and their head coach approves of their entrance.
“I was really pleased with where we are starting from. Over the course of the weekend we scored over 100 goals, which is awesome. Lefébre [Rademan] and Georgia [Rowe] have had very limited time together – maybe about three or four sessions together before the weekend. The whole attacking end was a highlight.”
As any first-time VNSL head coach would be, Titmuss-Morris was nervous ahead of the first centre pass.
“I have coached many games before. I normally feel the same in the first game of the season, no matter the age group or level. The staff around me know how I get before the first game so they were able to calm me down, reminding me it is just another game of netball.”
It wasn’t just pre-match jitters, either. The pressure of talking to the media added to the head coach’s mental load.
“I was actually most nervous about going and talking to the Sky people because I had never done that before. I was, like, either going to swear or stutter, or I am going to say something really inappropriate.”
Manchester Thunder and Saracens Mavericks
Despite a defeat by Manchester Thunder, Titmuss-Morris was pleased with her team’s performance.
“I was really happy because actually there were patches [where] we didn’t want to look, but we were able to get through that. There were times when it wasn’t pretty, but the girls had the resilience to come through that and still be fighting at the end.
“To see what we have been doing in training come to life on the court against some solid opposition – it was an absolute privilege and I felt really humbled by the event.”
The Dragons’ second game of the weekend, against Saracens Mavericks, also finished in defeat, but the head coach said this game showed a lot of promise for the future.
“If someone had said to me before the Mavericks game ‘You’re going to lose by seven,’ I would have been happy with that. But when you’re up at halftime and you’re so close for so long – there was an element of feeling like I wish we could have pushed it over the line.”
The Dragons had a disappointing 2021 season, only winning a single game. For them to be leading the Mavericks at halftime was a result that no one had predicted.
Though the second half ultimately let the Dragons down, Titmuss-Morris was positive in her reflection.
“We are not quite experienced enough to knuckle down in critical moments – and that is ok because it is fixable. It is something we are going to work on.”
Changing the Dragons narrative
A lot of the talk around the Dragons on social media and in commentary has been really positive. The team and staff have noticed this shift too.
“It was nice to start and change the narrative of how people talk about Dragons,” Titmuss-Morris said.
“Last year they were not a team in contention, they weren’t going to compete with anyone and it was lovely to see people talk about Dragons in a more positive manner.”
Overall the weekend was successful in the eyes of the Dragons coach. Despite two losses they have taken a lot of learnings out of the first two rounds.
“We put out two solid performances that we can be proud of. This is a really exciting place to be – there is so much opportunity for growth.
“We are going to be like a phoenix. We are rising from the ashes. We are a dragon–phoenix hybrid beast.”