By Fayth Doherty & Zac Attwood
The Netball Post sat down with newly-appointed Head Coach, Dannii Titmuss-Morris for a chat about all things Celtic Dragons.
Who is Dannii Titmuss-Morris?
With both Dannii’s mother and sister being level 3 netball coaches – one would say that coaching is in her DNA. From a young age she knew it was her dream to be coaching netball, something that she’s now doing at one of the highest levels possible. “It really is the dream,” she said of the chance to lead the Dragons.
When describing her coaching style she said “I have worked with some amazing coaches throughout my journey, I would like to think that I have taken a little bit from all of those people”. Along with that, she says she has high standards but is also firm but fair whilst adding in a bit of fun. She says “You want to make it an enjoyable environment for people to want to commit to it as much as they do” and followed this with “when you are in the pursuit of excellence it takes a volume of time”.
As a self-described control freak, Dannii welcomes the additional responsibilities that come with the move from an assistant coach to head coach in the Vitality Netball Super League. This is not her first time being a head coach as she has been a head coach at other levels, making the transition at the higher level virtually seamless.
The biggest differences for Dannii in her new role has been the opportunity to have more say in the recruitment of players and being given a budget to form a team from. She credited her recruitment decisions to one of her best friends, Nat Richardson, who acted as a sounding board throughout the signing period – which for many coaches can be a very stressful time but she said she found really fun.
During the interview Dannii said “I really love what I do” which prompted the question, why do you love coaching and Dannii responded; “It really gives me a lot of energy and I love working with people and being around others”. She followed that with “I love feeling a part of peoples progressions and seeing athletes achieve success” and used George Fisher as an example saying “George Fisher was one of my first athletes, I coached her when she was 11 or 12 … when you see how well she is doing in New Zealand and with the Roses, you feel so proud to have played a part in their journey”.
A sneak peek into the 2022 Celtic Dragons
Dannii has taken the new role in her stride and her goal as Head Coach of the team is “ to build a team that is competitive. There is an amazing bunch of individuals there, they are so driven and there is so much potential within that group. It is just about unleashing that potential and just achieving the best results that we are possibly capable of”. When speaking about results she said, “I am quite ambitious but I try to sprinkle that with realism”.
Although the Dragons had a disappointing season in 2021, Dannii says “the only way is up.” The rebranding of the club is “a marker in the sand … it feels like a new era”. Dannii said that “We are stepping into a new chapter of Dragons – the team behind the team is all new, the actual team is all very new, the kit and logos are all new”. In the squad of 15, ten of the players are new to the Dragons setup. She believes that her team has a mix of newbies but also those who eat, live and breathe all things Dragons. Her team is also full of talent and are ready to make their mark on the competition.
Off the court she wants the team to “be prepared to work hard, be competitive and make the experience enjoyable”. She would also like to see “engagement with the fan base and build the brand that is Dragons.” She wants fans to buy into the Dragon’s way and join ‘The Dragon’s Lair”.
Every team is known for a certain thing, whether that is the Suncorp Super Netball NSW Swifts being known for their incredible patience and passing game or the Diamonds being known for their legacy of international wins. These qualities are something that are heavily shaped and developed by a coach.
Dannii wants the Dragons to strive to be known as “fierce and really gritty. When anyone comes to play us, they have to play their very best netball to get anything from us. We want to show dogged determination and go hard till the end”. She had the brand that she hopes to see from the team at the forefront of her decisions when selecting her squad of fifteen. With these aspirations in mind, if the Celtic Dragons can pull this off in 2022 they are definitely going to be a formidable force in the future of the league.
Being a coachable athlete is something that Dannii looks for when building a team. “I’m building a team that is gritty but that is because those are the athletes I like. I like the players that just get stuck in and want to be the very best person of themselves. If you are going to do something just do it, give it your very best shot and see what happens and that is definitely reflected in the athletes that I like to work with.”
Dannii had some very good advice on this topic for anyone trying to improve “I love people who are open to learning and feedback. People who are wanting to be the very best person of themselves and being really unapologetic and driven”.
When talking about teams, it is worth noting that the Vitality Netball Super League has larger squad sizes than the New Zealand and Australian counterparts; something that has seen a good deal of discussion across all leagues recently.
With 12 squad members and 3 training partners, the Netball Post asked her opinion on whether more players were an advantage or a disadvantage. She initially thought it was a lot easier and more focused with less. “You are fitting fewer pieces into the puzzle, it’s just you lot, crack on and do it”.
However, Dannii does see some advantages drawn from her coaching career with bigger squads, “less numbers means there’s only plan A, if plan A isn’t working, having more athletes in the squad means you can have a plan B. That way you have more options on how you approach the game”.
We would like to thank Dannii for the time she gave to chat to The Netball Post and look forward to seeing Dannii and the Dragons in the season ahead!